When you feel frustrated

This post is part of a series exploring how busy people feel and what we can do with those feelings. To see the first post in the series, click here.

frustrated face

Photo by Kevin Lawver. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.


Ahh, the cry of the frustrated soul. Whether you say it explicitly or just show it through our thoughts, emotions, and behavior, that’s what’s coming out of you.

Appropriately enough, I felt very frustrated when I attempted to write this post. So I’m in prime position to notice the various dynamics that went on inside of me, which included the following. See if you can relate to any of these:

  • I wanted to blame others for ruining my plans, lash out at them, and dish out retribution. How dare they frustrate my plans!
  • I felt some despair. Lord, is there any hope of getting what I want?
  • There’s some self-loathing in there too. “Why didn’t I use my time more wisely earlier? I could have had this task done! Now I don’t have it done because I was thwarted just now!”
  • There’s also self-examination. Lord, what did I desire just now? Was that desire healthy or harmful?

So what can you do when you feel frustrated? Here are five practices you can put on to help you connect with God in the midst of frustration. Each one can be done in as little as a couple of minutes. You may not feel better, but you’ll be with the perfect companion even if you keep feeling frustrated.

  1. Honesty. Tell God exactly what you’re thinking and feeling and what you want to do. Be completely real and open. Let it all out in its rawest form. If you’re able, either shout it aloud or journal it out. That bodily action will make it more real.
  2. Gratitude. Ask God to help you consider what you’re grateful for in the midst of this frustrating situation. The aim here is to shift your focus from what you desire and don’t have to what you have an appreciate. Since you’ll have a beast of a time doing this by yourself, let God move you there as you have that emotional conversation with him.
  3. Naming Your Wants. Since frustration arises from an unmet desire, ask God to help you articulate your desires. This is especially helpful if you are feeling frustrated but don’t know why. Clarifying your desires will help you see your true self.
  4. Detachment. This practice stems from the previous one listed above. Once you’ve identified the desires behind your frustration, give them to God. This means that you are willing to wait for Him to fulfill them in His timing or even have them go permanently unfulfilled. You can simply say, “God, I give these desires to You.” Or you could make the practice more elaborate. Write down your desires and “hand over” the paper to God. Tell a trusted friend about them. Whatever you do, know that you may not actually feel the strength of these desires diminish, but the practice of detaching yourself from them and giving them to God opens you up for Him to do that work.
  5. Compassion/Mercy. This is particularly important if you see your frustration being directed towards others.  In this practice, you actively put on compassion and mercy. Here are several suggestions:
    • Practice the Jesus Prayer. Say this, either aloud or silently in your heart, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Then repeat this over and over as much and as often as you desire. Let it remind you that you need mercy, and let that reminder highlight how much the other person does too.
    • Give or do something nice for the other person. Replace frustration with self-giving service. Then talk to God about where your heart is after you do that act.
    • Ask God for compassion and empathy toward the other person. Try to name feeling words that capture how the other person feels in this moment. Then be present in this moment with the other person in those feelings.

Frustration can feel powerful and consuming because it’s all about your desires. Yet if you are willing to open to God in your frustration, you have the opportunity to grow into a more contented, compassionate, peaceful person. May you find these practices helpful in connecting you to Him.

Question: How do you connect with God when you feel frustrated?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.


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