“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
“Rejection is a challenge.”
Get better, not bitter.
Frustration is a fierce motivator. It’s a trip hammer for engagement and action. More than any other emotion, frustration will help you power through plateaus in your personal and professional life. The problem is that frustration is a gateway to both productive and destructive action. If channeled correctly, frustration can help you overcome obstacles and initiate positive change. If channeled incorrectly, it can spur recklessness and resentment. The key is to use frustration to increase your desire and work ethic without letting it plant seeds of animosity and cynicism.
Do You Really Want It?
Rejected people work harder but are less happy. Rejects are those who missed out on something they wanted. Whether it’s a goal they failed to achieve or a relationship they failed to sustain, these people channel their frustration and sense of loss into some kind of action. Most often, rejected people channel their frustrations into destructive actions. These actions may include lashing out, turning sly and manipulative, or shutting down completely. Science is showing that the most common response to being rejected is to want what you can’t have more while liking it less. A Stanford University study published in Psychological Science showed that being thwarted from obtaining a desired outcome increases your desire to obtain that outcome but, at the same time, reduces its actual attractiveness. During the study, participants who failed to win a prize were willing to pay more for it than those who won it, but were also more likely to trade it away when they ultimately obtained it. In other words, being rejected made the participants simultaneously want the prize more and like it less.
There is a thin line between lusting and loathing. Understand that rejection alters your perception. When you don’t get what you want, you will have a strong urge to want it more. You will also have the urge to like it less. When it comes to your goals, embrace the first urge but erase the second. Don’t let failure and rejection turn into resentment. Let the pain of your frustration strengthen your resolve without diminishing your positivity. Let your hunger grow, not your hatred. The key is to stay focused on why achieving your goal was important to you in the first place. Concentrate on how your goal will increase your happiness, boost self confidence, and improve your self esteem. This will prevent you from wanting it merely because it’s out of reach. Wanting things just because you can’t have them is a recipe for destruction. There’s no value in pursuing a goal that you will immediately cut down size or toss aside once it’s in hand. The only goals worth chasing are those that you truly love.
Get Mad, Get Motivated
Frustration is uncomfortable; it creates pain. And as soon as your mind feels pain, whether it’s physical or emotional, it will take action to relieve it. There are only two ways to relieve pain: evasion or transformation. Evasion is simply the process of distracting yourself from the pain of temporarily difficult situations in order to reap long-term benefits. Transformation is the process of using that same pain as motivation to reap more benefits faster. For example, if you’re at the gym straining to get through the last few repetitions of a tough exercise, you can either try to avoid the pain by putting your mind somewhere else (or stopping altogether), or you can get pissed off by the pain and power through the last few reps. Likewise, if you get hurt in a relationship, you can either evade pain by closing yourself off emotionally, or you can use the pain to initiate interpersonal growth. Positive transformation is the only way to use frustration to your advantage. This kind of transformation will help you increase happiness and improve self confidence while developing as a leader.
Piss Off Other People
Frustration is valuable. Understand that without frustration, there would be no breakthroughs. This is because grit and determination rely on frustration for energy. A lot of people make the mistake of immediately trying to resolve other people’s frustrations. If someone is frustrated, these people jump in and try to calm her down. They tell her all the reasons she shouldn’t be upset and what they would do if they were in her situation. Some of these people are sincerely interested in helping, but others are merely interested in hearing themselves talk. Correction is often a subconscious cry for attention.
I used to be a chronic corrector. Anytime a family member, friend, or colleague came to me with a problem, I would try to fix it before they were even finished telling me about it. I would cut them off and start stuffing their ears with my brilliant solutions. Of course, this would only frustrate them further. The problem was I wasn’t letting them externalize their frustrations. And worse, I was making them feel like they shouldn’t be frustrated in the first place. Now, when someone is fired up, I let them rant. I embrace their frustration. I don’t enjoy their problems and think, “Oh goodie, I’m doing better than this person right now”. I validate their emotions. I show them that I’m on their side and I’m against the other side. I don’t attack the people causing them problems; I attack the problems themselves. But this is only temporary. As soon as they have voiced their frustrations, I start asking questions like, “What are you going to do about it?” This helps them focus on transforming their problems into productive actions. It also allows them to come up with their own solutions.
Listening to and validating other people’s frustrations is a powerful way to positively influence motivation. And it is the best way to help them quickly increase happiness and improve confidence. The next time someone is frustrated about something, let them vent. In fact, join in. Validate their frustrations. Instead of correcting them, egg them on. And right when their pain is peaking, gently nudge them towards a productive action. Once they’ve voiced their problems, get them excited about possible solutions. Tilt them forward. Practice this same technique on yourself. Start seeing frustration as a power emotion. Embrace it, externalize it, and turn it into excitement. In my next post, I will show you how to have more fun than anyone else.