Overcoming Frustration

The word ‘frustration’ came up in every work meeting this week and in a few conversations with family and friends.  So it would be easy then for me to sum up the last 5 days as ‘a frustrating week filled with petty grievances and mad-making annoyances and other green and nasty gremlins’.  But all is not lost.  No.  Indeed in the middle of yesterday’s overlong work meeting I had one of those ‘aha!’ moments Oprah always talks about, and it felt like my brain grew a whole new branch of neurons and they were actually firing!

frustration:  the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.”

The IChing will tell you that frustration comes from not accepting things as they are. We are advised not to force a change because if we do we will only make things worse and impede our own progress.  That is all well and good and very Zen.  But what I realized yesterday as someone rambled on about how she couldn’t compile a report a certain way  – at least not in the way that she thought would please the boss – I realized that absolutely nothing was stopping her from doing that task differently.  

She was unconsciously blocking her own progress because she could not imagine a different way.  When I asked her what was stopping her from presenting the data in another format she looked at me as if I had just grown a pair of horns.  Thankfully a few hours later she came round to the idea.  The boss I told her, would probably be impressed with her initiative and creativity.  She seemed genuinely surprised by that comment.

Sometimes we choose not to see another way.  More often than not we do this unconsciously.  It’s just easier. It’s easier to stay stuck and frustrated because it’s a feeling we’re familiar with and besides, if we have an excuse for not doing something we think it’s ok. That task wasn’t done because hey, we have an excuse!  It’s like finding a tree lying across a forest path or blocking a road. Oh look an obstacle!  how convenient! see we can’t continue on this path any longer! let’s just turn back and tell our people, sorry such and such obstacle stopped us from getting to point X.

What frustration could be lifted today if you chose to tackle it differently?  

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There is this idea (more prevalent among the younger generations) that life is supposed to be easy.  It’s not.  Learning happens when we’re being challenged, not when we’re sipping margaritas.   But it’s also not supposed to be an uphill battle.  A lot of what makes our lives ‘hard’ is a lack of vision:  our unwillingness to consider alternatives and our inability to imagine something ‘other’.  Let’s all choose to DO something instead of just accepting our frustrations.

How was your week?

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When Was the Last Time You Had a Deep Emotional Connection to Someone or Something?

When was the last time you had a deep emotional connection to someone or something?

I remember the first time I saw the ocean.  It was nothing like the glassy lake my sister and I used to swim in on hot Summer weekends.  There was nothing of that inner city lake’s quiet reflection or gentle lapping.  The ocean was something altogether different.  It was wild and beautiful and populated with mythical creatures and it was, as the saying goes, love at first sight.  The ocean I’m speaking of here is the Indian Ocean.  if you live or have every lived or visited that part of the world (East and Southern Africa, Western Australia etc) you will know what I mean when I say the ocean roars and the waves crash and in parts the currents are so dangerous that to venture into the water is a sure death.  

The beauty of the world we live in, is in its variety.  Did you know you can visit every ocean and sea in the world and have a completely different experience both on and in the water?   Anyway I digress…

I don’t recall anything about the hotels we stayed in over the years with my dad on our trips to the coast but I do recall in vivid detail every experience we had in the water.  One of the most memorable was the day my sister and I came very very close to swimming with a pod of bottlenosed dolphins.  We used to watch them make their way up and down the coastline every day from our vantage point on the dunes.  That near-encounter with those mammals while we were neck deep in water laughing and shrieking with excitement was and still is indescribable.  We felt no fear just especially privileged to play with them.  

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image from http://www.redorbit.com

Years later my husband and I took our sons to a dolphin show at the Marine Land in a certain port city and I watched three bottlenosed dolphins jump through hoola hoops and pirouette for the crowd.  I wept like a baby.

And, I wept again last night during and after viewing the documentary Blackfish (on Netflix).  Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum the orca (held by SeaWorld and still performing for crowds) who was involved in the deaths of three individuals (two of them trainers) and the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity. It also focuses on the harrowing details of how baby orcas are captured and trained. 

I can’t recommend this documentary enough.  

 

What has moved you so much that you feel compelled to talk/write about it?

Walking with despair? How to choose life.

So it’s Friday and I’m probably supposed to write something light and fluffy but something happened and I can’t shake it off.  I don’t want to shake it off.  I want to remember and keep remembering. And I want to share it with you.

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I found out yesterday that friends of ours lost their beautiful and vibrant fifteen year old son to suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-24, following motor vehicle accidents in this country (Canada).  And rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.

I don’t have the specific details or the answers as to why our much loved young friend took his own life but there are many reasons why people take their own lives ranging from mental health disorders to socioeconomic, family and issues with identity.  From when I was eight years old to when I turned ten I was bullied. The ‘ringleader’ of this campaign was a girl called Celia and yes, she was the meanest but also the most popular girl in our small primary school.   Why are the meanest so often the most popular?

She was tall.  I was not.  She was Barbie/Prima Ballerina.  I was not. You see, Iice showed up in my hair and my mother, horrified, shaved it all off and since my hair was never going to be anything more than what it is, thin and lifeless, she decided to keep my hair short.   Really short.  So I got teased a lot.  I was called names.  Hurtful names. I learned at a very young age about intolerance and prejudice. I learned your looks hold  a lot more sway in this world than the contents of your mind.  I learned that words are weapons and if you let them they can wound even kill you.   I learned all this at a tender age because I was picked on and pulled apart not only by a girl called Celia but by my peers and teachers too.   Because my teachers thought I was odd.  They thought my mother was odder and told me so.   My mother was a very young single mother.  Back then a very big no-no.  So I was the ‘possibly- Hare-krishna-lesbian daughter’ of a single mother.  I shouldn’t have made it.  But I did.  Because of two things:

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I had two very devout grandmothers.  They weren’t necessarily always emotionally available but they introduced me to God and took me to church.  So I believed with all my heart in someone Greater and something Bigger than all my problems. And it made all the difference because I didn’t feel so alone with God on my side.   Even when Celia was dragging me around the school yard by one of my skinny legs and the other kids jeered.   I’ve been told by people who should know (they hold PhDs in Mind Reading and the like) that I survived because I’m the resilient type.  I’m not saying I didn’t hit the bottom of my own personal Marianas Trench.  I did at the age of eight.   I swallowed a handful of some pills I found in the bathroom cabinet and waited for death.  I was still very much alive when my mother got home from work so I told her what I had done and she drove me to the hospital.  Turns out I tried to overdose on contraceptive pills.  I don’t remember being reprimanded.  I don’t even remember being hugged.   

Here’s what I think:

Maybe we should talk about God.

Maybe we should read more.

Maybe we should talk more to our children.  Maybe we should be more alert to the warning signs.

Maybe we should turn off our smartphones/tablets and listen more.

Maybe we should sit around a table with our children.    

Maybe we should bless our meals and the people sitting at the table with us.

Maybe when the people who are supposed to love us simply can’t or don’t know how to we should reach out and find those who will.

Maybe we think only children are capable of bullying.  Think again.  If you know or suspect you are a bully get help