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The psychology behind feeling frustrated

We experience the feelings of frustration when something prevents us from getting or doing what we want. Since we humans are goal-seeking organisms continually looking for the fulfillment of our goals, it is very common for us to feel frustrated from time to time. But why? What is the purpose of frustration?

Our mind sends us the emotion of frustration when it finds that our current actions are ineffective in helping us achieve our goals. Therefore, by making you feel frustrated your mind is actually telling you to stop doing what you are doing and look for alternative, effective ways. Frustration allows us to step back, think and figure out why our current actions are ineffective and what possible alternatives could we apply instead.

A student who is not able to prepare for a test somehow may become frustrated.

A father who fails to calm down his crying child may experience frustration.

A salesperson who isn't able to make a sale may feel frustrated as a result.

A boss may become frustrated by the careless attitude of his employee.

Frustration and helplessness

Frustration and helplessness are different emotions. Frustration may be said to be an initial stage of helplessness provided the person believes that there is no way out. If a person fails to accomplish what he wants then he may feel frustrated but if he also thinks that there’s nothing he can do about it, then he feels helpless.

Frustration and flexibility

If you are flexible enough you might experience less frustration compared to others. People get overwhelmed due to frustration and feel helpless and stuck if they aren't flexible. Being flexible simply means believing that there is another way to do a thing.

Creative people are therefore more flexible. If someone feels stuck and helpless because of believing there is no way out then he may feel bad and if his frustration continues over a period of time, he might lose hope and become depressed.

How frustration can lead to rage

Sometimes when people become frustrated, they can become aggressive too. Frustration makes us feel bad and charges us with negative energy. We all want to be psychologically stable and any extra energy that makes us unstable we have to release in one way or the other. So when we are charged with bad emotions due to the frustration we feel compelled to dump our extra negative energy on people by becoming aggressive. 

How many times did you behave aggressively towards someone just because you were pissed off as a result of feeling frustrated? Video game addicts are likely to behave aggressively with their family members and those around them right after a gaming session just because they were unable to win a game or cross a stage.

When a person shows aggression in such cases, he feels better because he is able to release his frustration (loss of control + feeling defeated) and regain control and appear superior.

Same is the case with rage.

Rage is not only caused by excessive frustration but also when we feel hurt, humiliated and disgraced in any way. Rage is a bout of extreme anger that makes people break and throw away things, damage property and use violence against others. It is not uncommon to find students, frustrated because of not solving a hard problem, to throw away their books, pens and bang their tables.

The underlying mechanics of rage is simple and of course related to a person’s psychological stability. Rage makes a person get filled up with negative energy because he experiences extreme anger and feels that he has lost control over his life circumstances. By breaking things and using violence, he releases his excessive energy and regains a sense of control at the same time.

As a result, he feels much better and stable but for a very brief period of time because feelings of rage usually make us do activities that result in guilt later on and we end up feeling worse due to guilt and regret. Under the effect of these emotions, the person becomes motivated to stay alone and some even cry. 

frustrated woman chewing laptop
Frustration combined with rage tends to make us aggressive causing us to behave in very primitive ways.


Frustration is just your mind asking you to change your current actions because they aren't helping you. Feeling frustrated every now and then is normal but if it continues for a long time, it can cause problems.

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