We all come across frustrating experiences in our daily lives. Perhaps a relative refuses to listen to your advice, or you end up failing a test you prepared very hard for. Last week, I went to Beijing to do field research and was frustrated by the attitude of the people at the field site towards me – to add to this frustration, I was in a rural area, which made me personally feel squeamish since I love urban atmospheres a lot.
How should we best cope with these frustrating experiences that basically scream at us to give up, no matter how much we love someone or something? Here are three tips:
1 – Leave the immediate situation at hand
Yes, I said it, drop everything and leave. If you are at your job when your boss is literally not giving you that promotion even know he said he would multiple times, take the day off. Not possible? Ask for half a day off, or get permission to leave 2 hours earlier than usual. I felt a boiling frustration with my research situation because I was promised an interview but my subject kept pushing it off and eventually slept through an interview slot. I decided to leave the site I was observing, buy some junk food from a little convenience store, and lock myself in my hotel room for 2 hours.
It is important before you try and make important decisions to first let your mind relax and let go of as many negative emotions as possible. It is very unhealthy and inefficient to rush yourself through a decision while you are still fuming with anger or frustration at an undesirable situation. So, give yourself some time to just let it all out – sulk, get bitter, get whiny, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t mix your emotional negativity with your rational decision-making mindset.
2 – Make a game plan for success
Once you notice your initial dose of negative emotions start to waver and disappear, even if you still feel a bit defeated or exhausted, make a plan. Whatever you do, giving up is not an option. For the past two hours while you were sulking and eating chips by yourself, you already gave yourself enough time to escape from the situation that was irking you. Now, it takes a bit of guts, but get yourself back in there.
Write down 4 ways you will try to ace the exam next time. Brainstorm how to communicate to that co-worker who keeps talking behind your back. Force your rational mind to turn on!
3 – Make a game plan for failure
This is an important step that really saves my mental state from collapsing sometimes, but seems confusing to others. What I do is, even though I prioritize the previous game plan for success, I make a back up plan. Some people may confuse this to be the same as simply a ‘give up plan’. Please don’t get me wrong – this plan doesn’t imply that I will just drop the situation at hand and run away. Reality is, success will not always be grasped. Maybe I can’t get all the interviews I planned. Perhaps you tried, but your boss still won’t get you promoted.
When most people realize that their success game plan actually failed, they don’t know how to handle that result. WHY? I tried all these tactics? Am I just inferior? I’m just stupid! But if you had a back up plan ready at hand, these panic attacks will not burst forth. If you are getting a low grade in a class and have only one test to boost your grade again, start researching whether you can take the class Pass Fail, or Retake the class just in case that next test doesn’t go well. For me, I made a note about other forms of research I could do to make up for two or three less interview opportunities. I’ll still try my hardest to interview, but if I fail, I know I have a way out as well.
Hopefully that helped you guys. What are your tips? Share them below and don’t forget to follow me 🙂