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The Self Development Basics 4 Frustration Part 2

In the last post we looked at when we are frustrated because we don’t know what we want. In this post we look at when we are frustrated because we do know what we want but don’t know how to get it.

Part 2. When We Are Frustrated Because We Don’t Know How to Get What We Want
There are different strategies to find the way based on how usual the path is that we want to tread.

1. When the path is known.
There is a huge amount of wisdom available about how to do anything. From improving in sport or business, to relationships and artistic expression, to thinking or creating – the problem is more likely to be filtering the riches rather than a lack of advice.

How to filter all this information? At least at first: go with your gut. As you apply to your own situation what you have learnt from others you will get more conscious of what works for you and what doesn’t. There is no reason to make things difficult for yourself: go with what appeals and take the first easy step. Then reflect. See if you have learned something significant. Then take the next step.

If you are more a people person there are often clubs and groups of people who do a particular thing. These people are usually delighted to share what they have learned about how to do there chosen thing well. These groups often have an online presence that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

There is no point reinventing the wheel. If you want to get somewhere have a look around and see if someone else has got there before you. Learning from the experience of others can save us lots of time, effort and embarrassment.

2. When the path is less clear. Sometimes the how isn’t quite so clear. There isn’t an already defined path. In this situation we look for analogies in other areas.

To use this strategy successfully means being clear on the problem we are solving. To be more efficient in a work situation could mean: better organisation of tasks, flow of information, making requirements obvious, good relationships among staff, greater collaboration or competition . . . The analogies we look for will depend on how we define the problem.

  • To improve the organisation of tasks we could look at Linnaeus system of classification.
  • To improve the flow of information we could look at flow and turbulence in a river.
  • To make requirements obvious we could look at the courting displays of birds.
  • To look at good relationships we could look at villages and tribes (even of other animals).
  • To improve collaboration or competition we could look at the balance sports teams and compare them with an artists’ studio.

3.When it looks like we need to make a new path.
In this situation we learn as we go. The emphasis is on learning. Which means things not recommended in school, like: just try stuff. You won’t learn anything if you don’t try stuff.

When you need to build a new path start with what is obvious. You don’t know what is going on – and more importantly, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just try stuff and try stuff about what is obvious. Then the results will be clear for you.

In this situation you need to have an idea of what you want to learn. Then find quick and easy ways to learn it. Try small experiments: fail quickly, fail often, fail early.

In this situation it is essential that you learn. It is not just doing random stuff. You need to set aside the time, and put in the effort, to reflect on your experiences and to see what worked or what didn’t. And you need to at least come up with some guesses as to why. The next step is to test those guesses.

In this situation having someone to listen to you as you consider your experience can be invaluable. It seems strange that talking to someone when you don’t know what you are doing and they certainly don’t should help. All I can say is that in my experience there is nothing more useful. Having someone listen and be able to paraphrase what you are saying is hugely valuable. My advice: do everything you possibly can to find a good listener.

This is a strategy for new or complex situations. Blogging, for instance is quite new as an ‘industry’ and so what works is still being sorted out. It is quite different to a sport where the rules are known and agreed. A natural disaster is a complex situation: the approach is to deal with what it obvious, change rapidly in response to feedback, monitor continually what is going on, then deal with the next obvious thing. Knowing what is going on and responding to it is the emphasis.

Why Bother?
Why bother addressing our frustration? Because when it is resolved the energy released feels great. It is usually a moment of elation. And when our frustration is resolved we are then able to do with all of us. There is pleasure when all of us is directed to doing something.

This is the promise of frustration. Frustration is an energised state: when we are frustrated we have energy. And when we know what and how to direct this energy we will have a more satisfying life. Frustration contains the promise of satisfaction.


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  • If you have learned what you can from the gurus and others and think it is time to find your own path I offer a one hour, no cost no obligation, skype call. To book your session you can use the contact form. The times are from 10-2 Tuesday and Friday Sydney time or other times by negotiation. Looking forward to working with you.

I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don't hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

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