What causes frustration?
Why do people become enraged sometimes?
The answer lies in the emotion of frustration. The feelings of frustration are caused when someone or something prevents us from getting or doing what we want.
Humans are goal-seeking organisms continually looking for the fulfilment of their needs and goals. It’s common for us to experience the feelings of frustration 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 generating the feelings of frustration, your mind is telling you to stop doing what you’re doing and look for alternative, more effective ways.
Frustration allows us to step back, think and figure out why our current actions are ineffective and what possible alternatives can we explore instead.
A student who cannot prepare for a test 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 thought of as an initial stage of helplessness if the person believes that there is no way out.
If a person fails to accomplish what they want then they may feel frustrated but if they believe there’s nothing that can be done about it, then they also feel 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 always 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, they feel bad. If their frustration continues over a period of time, they 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’re charged with bad emotions due to frustration, we feel compelled to dump our extra negative energy on people by becoming aggressive.
How many times did you behave aggressively toward 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. It’s usually because they were unable to win a game or cross a stage.
When someone shows aggression in such cases, they feel better because they’re able to release their frustration (loss of control + feeling defeated). It helps them 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’s not uncommon to find students, frustrated because of not solving a hard problem, throwing away their books and pens and banging their tables. The underlying mechanics of rage is simple and related to a person’s psychological stability.
Rage fills up a person with negative energy because they experience extreme anger and feel they have lost control over their life. By breaking things and using violence, they release their excess energy and regain a sense of control.
As a result, they feel much better and stable but for a brief period of time.
Feelings of rage often force us to do things that result in guilt later on and we end up feeling worse due to guilt and regret. Under the effect of these emotions, a person becomes motivated to stay alone and some even cry.
Dealing with frustration
Understanding why you’re feeling frustrated is half the job of dealing with frustration. When something frustrates people, they’re often unable to pinpoint what caused their frustration in the first place. They just lash out at others without thinking.
They will find faults with others just so they can get an opportunity to lash out. The reality is, they were already feeling bad, even before they started lashing out. They already were in a low mood and filled with negative energy. They just needed an excuse to release this negative energy on some person or object.
Had they been self-aware and understood what caused their frustration, they’d have been careful to channel their extra energy into removing their source of frustration or finding alternative ways to reach their goals.
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 anger issues and relationship problems.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.