The inescapable responsibility to examine your actions when you are frustrated

As mentioned in my previous article, a mindset you choose over time is looking at the problem and finding its positive side. Be sad for 5 minutes, think about actions, and move on. If not, you go on a spiral of guilt, anger, frustration that, in the end, is not productive, regardless of who is responsible, from your point of view, for that problem.

I have improved a lot in the way I perceive the situations which cause me frustrations. And it is not condemning the other side. I consider myself a blessed professional because I have a corporate coach to talk about some obstacles which I work through. He focuses on asking me which actions I could do differently to have a different outcome.

After a few sessions on the topic, I put together a series of questionings that can help me interpret things differently when I get uncomfortable with a situation. It is an effort to re-think what happened, focusing on actions that I am responsible for taking it.

To begin with:

  1. What could I have done differently?
    Did I bring my best version for that interaction? That means looking back at actions that I've done. Was that the best reply that I could give?

  2. Did I communicate expectations at the beginning of the interaction?
    Was everyone aligned with the expected outcome at the beginning of the meeting or discussion? Did I start the conversation by saying my expectations? Or I've just thrown a lot of phrases on my audience and expected them to figure out and understand what I want?

  3. Am I taking this personally?
    What about the others' perspective or point of view? What was going on in their heads that make them behave like this? Was this conversation a priority to them?

  4. Even though I was feeling upset or frustrated with the outcome, was it the company's best decision?
    Did you reach the goal with that conversation, regardless of how you've felt about it?

  5. Am I empathetic to them and myself?
    Was that the best moment to talk to them? Maybe it was something that I brought up from nowhere and didn't give them enough time to digest the idea.

  6. Am I upset because I want to reinforce what I already know or hear what others have to say to find blind spots in my idea?
    In other words, do I want to present an idea and come out with a better or complete version of it, or am I looking for an applaud?

Although those questions might help, you might feel frustrated anyway. To complement the approach, I've extracted those three concepts from the book "The Four agreements" that my coach recommended: 

  1. Don't take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their reality. That's not necessarily neither true nor needs to be the same as your reality. In the book, I've found an interesting section about this. When you are immune to others' opinions and actions, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
    I'm not a religious person, but I co-relate this to Buddhism's approach of being neutral, "neither pleasant nor unpleasant" nor "neither happy nor sad". The more detached you're about others' opinions, even if it's a compliment (neither happy) or insult (nor sad), almost invariably, you're happy.

  2. Don't make assumptions. It's easier to make assumptions because it prevents you from reaching someone and asks things. In the process, we might be misinterpreted or any other unwelcome outcome which we once had when we ask questions (Socrates knows best).
    The tricky part is: if you don't ask questions and make assumptions, you might trigger a lot of misunderstandings, sadness, and drama that could be easily avoidable.

  3. Always do your best. I think that is related to the fifth question above (Am I empathetic with others and myself?). Sometimes we did the best that the situation allows us to do. If deep down in your beliefs, you've followed those questions, and the outcome was bad: it is what it is. In these scenarios, the best way to go further is to accept that you did your best, learned a lesson, and move on.

As always, easier to say, hard to implement in your day-to-day, right? Well, right. But technically, it is the same question with everything new that you learn: how are you going to make this effective in your daily routine? Keep those questions somewhere, so when you feel frustrated, you go over to examine it? Meditate on this at the beginning/end of the day?

Regardless of the specific way you choose, you need to find a route. If you don't do this, it will be like any other knowledge you have and never had a chance to use: it's just hanging there, apart from your brain and daily actions. With that said, what has been your way to constructively and positively deal with your frustrations?