Note: You can learn about all the emotions you experience by hitting the Index button above and clicking on any post that addresses your issues.
As I am writing this, we are entering the 2021 Holiday season.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and experienced a lot of gratitude.
The material for this post came to me as I was watching the news.
While certainly happy about getting together with families, people are facing crowded stores, supply-chain issues, differences in approaches to vaccinations, and other issues.
Taken together, I wondered what emotions people might be experiencing this holiday season.
Here is what I came up with.
Let’s explore a possible scenario…
You are trying working on a project or pursuing a specific goal and your progress slows down or stops.
Your “project” could involve:
- Trying to buy Holiday gifts
- Trying to book seats on a plane to visit relatives
- Trying to organize an “event” such as a wedding and keep everybody safe while balancing different viewpoints toward vacinations (a real example, by the way)
You are facing an…
What emotions do you think (or know) you might be experiencing?
While frustration is an obvious emotion in the above scenario, and I will address this emotion in detail below, you could experience several different emotions depending on your interpretation of the obstacle and its impact on you including:
- anger (if you perceived the obstacle as a threat of some kind),
- sadness (if you perceived the obstacle as signaling a need to end the project),
- anxiety (if you perceived a possible future loss because of the obstacle),
- guilt (if you perceive yourself as having done something wrong)
- amusement (You just knew this would happen!)
In the Emotions as Tools Model, each emotion informs you about how you are perceiving what is happening in your situation.
This is the message of the emotion.
The emotional mastery cycle (EMC) enables you to both understand the emotion and choose how you want to strategically deploy that emotion to your benefit.
Some basic definitions:
- Strategically Deploying an emotion
Strategically Deploying an emotion involves adaptively applying the energy of the emotion to the situation in which you find yourself so that what you do (your behavior) improves, resolves, responds to, or, at the very least, does not exacerbate, that situation.
- Emotional Mastery Cycle (EMC)
The EMC describes the process by which we experience, recognize, label, analyze and utilize our emotions as tools to improve our lives and our relationships. You can download a PDF of the Anger Mastery Cycle by clicking on the link provided.
The EMC can be summarized in 5 steps:
- Experience the emotion (physical and automatic)
- Take a deep breath and “step back” from the situation (create “safety”)
- Acknowledge the emotion and its message (cognitive)
- Question the validity of the emotion (begin mastery)
- Choose and initiate a response (strategically deploy the emotion)
The message of frustration is that your project has stopped and you are annoyed because an obstacle is impeding your progress on your project.
While many articles recommend a passive approach to frustration including distraction, relaxation, exercising, or doing yoga, the Emotions as Tools approach advocates actively validating the emotion and dealing with it strategically. The passive approach, while not always inappropriate, won’t work here because it ignores the feeling and moves away from the goal.
Once you have experienced and acknowledged your frustration, you are now in a position to use the energy of your frustration as motivation to question (and master) the emotion.
Two important questions you need to ask (and answer):
- What is the nature of the obstacle?
- If there is an obstacle, what can I do to eliminate or overcome that obstacle?
Strategically Deploying Frustration:
Question #1 serves to validate whether an actual obstacle to your forward progress actually exists.
Two major possibilities exist here.
- There is an actual obstacle and you have identified it.
- There is no actual obstacle and you have in some way misinterpreted what is going on.
The answer to question #2 is the basis for a plan of action which emanates from your frustration. Your plan of action determines what you do with (or how you deploy) your frustration.
(Note: This is the essence of emotional mastery.)
Turn your Frustration into Determination
When you decide that you can (and will) overcome the obstacle, the obstacle becomes a challenge and your frustration morphs into determination.
The debilitating emotion of frustration becomes the enabling emotion of determination and you begin to move forward.
You master the emotion when you….
- recognize and validate it,
- understand the information it provides about how you are perceiving your situation
- choose how you want to respond to, adaptively deal with, and strategically apply the energy of the emotion to effectively change the situation which elicited your frustration in the first place.