We all get frustrated from time to time – right? Right!
Suppose you’re frustrated with the fact that your ex hasn’t been reliable in picking up or dropping off your kids for parenting time. Or your child is consistently bringing home bad grades. Perhaps your mother in law is undermining your authority when it comes to raising your kids. The scenarios are endless.
When we’re frustrated with something, we have thoughts about it that tend to increase our frustration. We become mired and stuck in our thoughts and remain powerless to change the situation. We then become increasingly frustrated, angry and resentful. These feelings can surface at any time. For instance, you yell at your kids or you become easily upset when the tiniest thing goes wrong during the day.
How do you get out of this debilitating mindset? Here are 5 relatively simple ways to transform frustration into intention:
1. Change your thoughts to think about what you need instead. Be as specific as possible in identifying your needs. For example, suppose your ex is perpetually cancelling or rescheduling his parenting time, leaving you in a lurch at the last minute. Instead of brewing about it, recognize that you need to know when he’s coming every week in advance so you can plan your schedule. Now, it becomes a problem to solve with him, instead of a fight against him.
2. Next, intend with a laser-like focus to get what you need. Now that you’ve determined your specific need, you can turn to intending to get those needs met. Don’t waiver from your intention. Refuse to consider alternatives that do not support your intention. For instance, you’ve identified your need to be able to make decisions for your children without being undermined. If your mother in law babysits for you, but you know that when she comes over she will barrage you with her “suggestions” and ignore your wishes for how she cares for your children, you might consider finding alternative child care, at least for the time being. This will create some space for you to develop longer term arrangements while eliminating the energy that you spent being anxious and angry whenever she comes over.
3. Communicate your need. Tell your ex that you need consistency and predictability in his parenting time, which the children especially need. Or if alternative child care is not available, tell your mother in law that you need to be able to make decisions for your children and ask that she respect that.
4. Solve the problem by getting more information. Ask your ex why he is not showing up on time and tell him the effect this has on you. Or ask your child why his homework is not getting done and ask his teacher the problems he or she sees.
5. Listen to get an accurate understanding from the other’s perspective. Listen to your ex or your child for his perspective. This will assure him that you “get” where he’s coming from and increase the odds that he will work with you. Then the two of you can come up with a plan that meets both of your needs.
You can use these steps for many different scenarios that cause you frustration. The key is to be as specific as possible in identifying your needs and to be disciplined in sticking to your intention.