Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes I Just Want to Pull My Hair Out! How to Deal With Frustration

Did you know frustration is all rooted in the need to control? We all want things to be a certain way and as long as they comply, we’re ok. We expect people to be what we think they should be (after, who knows better than I how others should behave?). When they conform to our dictates, we get along just fine. However, when unexpected challenges arise (my camera batteries went dead just as my son hit a fly ball to center field; my husband didn’t plan a romantic evening for our anniversary), we become agitated and frustrated. “I knew it!” we scream. “Stuff like this always happens to me!” Feelings of victimization and powerless consume us and we fight to regain control. However, control is an illusion. We can only influence the outcome of any given situation; we can inspire the changes we would like to see in others but cannot force anyone to comply. Each individual has free will and will ultimately make their own decisions.

When we try to coerce things to kowtow to our orders, we set ourselves up for frustration.  People do not have an obligation to fulfill my desires. Things don’t always have to go my way. We learn nothing when life is easy. It is only in disappointment, challenge and change that we grow. 

Here are a few tips to reducing frustration in your life:
1      1.  Put everything into perspective. How important is this issue really? Will you even remember it in 10 years?
2      2.  Is what you are seeking fair and reasonable with this individual, at this time, under these conditions, in my time frame? If no, make some adjustments that are more realistic.
3      3.  If the situation or person will not change, (it is what it is), can you accept and be ok with your current circumstances? Being “ok with” does not mean being “happy about”. It simply means you have put the issue to rest and are no longer troubled by it.

Remember: acceptance of that which we cannot change is the key to inner peace.
Let go. Allow things to unfold naturally. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. It takes far too much effort and will never work.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Nail in the Fence

“The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath.” (The Buddha). 

A little boy, prone to anger, was told by his father, “Every time you’re angry, drive a nail in that wooden fence. When you’ve learned to control your anger, start removing them.” Six months later, the boy had removed every nail he had driven. Triumphant, he showed the fence to his father. The father sadly pointed out, “See the holes? The fence will never be the same.” 

I first heard this story several years ago and thought it a perfect analogy to the potential damage anger can have on another person. 

All emotions have purpose and value. None are inherently bad, even anger. It’s how we choose to express them and what we do with them that determines if they become a positive or negative force.
Here’s the problem with anger: we become upset with someone for whatever reason and lash out in fury. “You idiot! I told you not to do that!” “I never should have married you! My parents warned me!” Ouch! Hurtful words hurt…over and over. We may say something once yet the person on the receiving end of our rage replays those words again and again, each time gaining momentum and power. For the offender, the incidence occurs once and is forgotten. For the target, they relive it ten, twenty, one hundred times. Angry words have the potential to cause a lifetime of suffering.

When I was young, I distinctly remember an adult telling me in a nasty way I’d never amount to anything in life. Clearly they were angry although I never understood why. I hadn’t done anything to warrant it at that time. (I had plenty of other times though.) Those words stayed with me for decades. I attended college (with no aspirations) simply because my mother insisted. (Thank you, mom.) Eleven days after graduation I married my high school sweetheart and soon thereafter started a family. Staying home raising children was safe and at times became a convenient excuse for not venturing outside of the home.  After all, what else could I possibly do? I reminded myself I’d never amount to anything so why even try?

It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was able to revisit those hurtful words and re evaluate their meaning. What had caused me great anguish for nearly thirty years, in reality, had no value. That adult’s words were not truth. They were spoken in anger. Now as an adult, I was finally able to put the past behind me by forgiving the one who so cruelly drove a nail into my spirit.

Hurtful words hurt – over and over. They can leave holes in the very fiber of one’s being. Choose your words wisely. Choose kindness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Several months ago I appeared on an internationally acclaimed TV show hosted by a husband/wife team. For more than a quarter of a century, this couple shared their personal lives and God's Word with millions of loyal followers. I was deeply saddened when they recently appeared on national TV revealing their dark secret of infidelity.

He spoke with great remorse for having committed such an egregious offense against his wife, family, friends and God. She lovingly shared her decision to forgive and preserve their marriage. I knew all-to-well the importance of forgiveness and how it benefited me in past similar experiences. But I have since outgrown forgiveness: I will never again forgive anyone for any offense.

The betrayals of my past have taught me much: first, that everything that happens in my life is a very necessary part of my journey. Each experience is absolutely essential for me to become the person God created me to be and to fulfill His Divine Plan. Much as an athlete must endure painful hours in the gym with demanding coaches and aching muscles in order to break world records, so must I face devastating hardships to achieve personal greatness.

The same applies to family and friends: each must realize their own mistakes and suffer the consequences of their imperfections in order that they, too, may find their appointed path in life. It is not for me to say what decisions they must make nor lessons they must learn in order to fulfill their destiny. This is between them and God and I must remove myself from their equation.

My life is my relationship between me and God. I am here to live my life in ways that please Him. I share my life with others but my life is not about them. When I err, I have failed against God and He is saddened by my poor judgment. My struggles and indiscretions are between Him and me exclusively.

I have also discovered that everything that comes into my life is here to teach and benefit me. Infidelity, blackmail, abuse all have the potential to make me a better person. Each can enrich my life should I allow it. Those who bring these experiences to me are merely messengers in my script of life. I have since learned to welcome them for they bring gifts of immeasurable value for me to unwrap and apply.

Pain has allowed me to come to know God on a deeper more intimate level that a life of ease could never provide. When I hurt, I instinctively turn to Him for healing and He never disappoints. When I feel abandoned, He comforts. When I'm confused, He offers clarity and guidance. Where is there room for anger or hurt towards anyone who has paved the way for me to profoundly know God? There isn't.

Do I need to forgive my boss for requiring me to put in long exhausting hours to earn the title of VP of sales? No. I understand the sacrifices required for success.

And now I understand this great myth of forgiveness: it is redundant when one recognizes the necessity of all experiences. My life is a spiritual journey of knowing God. I am grateful to all who provide me the opportunity to experience His Love. And while the events they bring may not be pleasant, the rewards are immeasurable. For me, there is no longer the need to ever forgive anyone for each has blessed me in ways unimaginable. Thanks to them, my life is exactly as it should be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Today I discussed the subject of depression. Depression affects 121 million people world wide and according to the World Health Organization, by 2020 it will be the second leading cause of disability in the world. Add to that: depression is responsible for 850,000 suicides annually. That is nothing short of tragic. No one needs to suffer. There is help. 

I struggled with depression at two different times in my life: first when I was a teenager and later on during the pregnancy of my 4th child. It did not subside with her birth. Simple chores were an effort. Life was a vat of quick sand and each day I was being sucked deeper and deeper into despair. I was embarrassed and ashamed and kept this dark secret to myself. I needed help but had to do it on my own. I discovered natural methods that saved my life.

I began a regimen of daily aerobic exercise. Power walking released endorphins which helped stabilize my mood. 

Nature is known for its healing properties. Just stand outside in the sun, watch the movement of the clouds, smell the fragrant of nearby roses, listen to the sound of the ocean: one cannot help but feel peaceful and serene. 

Prayer played a major part in my healing. Being connected to God filled me with hope, comfort, strength and love. And who can feel depressed when one is surrounded by God’s protection and love?

Music has the ability to alter our mood. Listen to that which is uplifting and joyful. 

Volunteer: focusing on the needs of others is rewarding and alleviates self-suffering.

Purpose: knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others is tremendously rewarding. Who can feel sadness when they are bringing joy to others?

Random acts of kindness uplifts our spirits and takes our mind off our own problems.

Human touch: the human connection releases powerful chemicals in the brain that support our emotional well-being. Hug someone!

Yoga, meditation, alternative therapies such as massage, Reiki, reflexology, 
acupressure/acupuncture and others have shown great results. 

Living in gratitude: focusing on what you are appreciative of rather than what is lacking in life restores joy and happiness.

Sometimes prescription medication is necessary. But if you prefer, try the natural route. It worked for me. Be certain to incorporate these behaviors in your daily life for the rest of your life as a preventative measure. I’ve been depression free for over 35 years.

If you or someone you know is suffering with feelings of hopelessness and despair, lethargy, inability to function, overall lack of enthusiasm for life, worthlessness, apathy or thoughts of suicide please reach out for help. Depression is a very real medical issue and needs immediate attention. We need to be compassionate of those who are suffering and provide the necessary assistance and support for their recovery. Life is worth living and there is hope. I am living proof.