Ever think about categorizing frustration? No? It’s okay, I’ve done it for you. I think most things aggravating can fall into one of the following.
Level 1–“Get Over Yourself” This is when you get visibly frustrated over something stupid that doesn’t really have any positive or negative effect on anything. Kevin Marshall would call these situations First World Problems. The best example of this is when you want a jelly doughnut with sprinkles from D&D and when you get there they only have jelly doughnuts without sprinkles. Huffing and puffing back to the parking lot is Level 1.
Level 2–“What’s Wrong with Me” We’ve all experienced this even if we don’t like to admit it. It’s when some invisible force that is completely out of your control makes you feel entirely inept. You know when you’re 6 inches from the trash can and it takes you eleven attempts to throw something out. If you don’t ask “What’s wrong with me?”, then you’re either in denial or have given up and the dirty kleenex sits on the floor next to the trash can until garbage day.
Level 3–“Not worth the fight” aka compromise. This is minor frustration that happens in every relationship. I have a tendency to leave my closet doors open after selecting my clothes for the day. This aggravates Emiley beyond belief but it’s not a relationship deal breaker and like level 1, isn’t doing any immediate harm.
Level 4–“This should be easy but is impossible” Level 4 happens when no matter how many attempts at something, the result is almost always failure. The best example for this is trying to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture by yourself. You read the directions and “holding panel A parallel to panel C while lining up hole B with tab D and at the same time tighten bolt G” seems to make perfect sense. The diagram makes it look so easy. However, each time you get everything lined up and balanced using your non-dominant hand, both knees, and a foot while also using the foam packing material as leverage and are just about to tighten bolt G, you end up in a heap of heavy particle board. I experienced Level 3 the other night at CasaMateja. A very adorable 5 year old asked me to build a “castle” using a standard deck of cards. As soon as I got any height, the cards tumbled into a flat mess. The ‘castle’ was at best a battered lean too.
Level 5–“Bite Your Lip” This can really raise the blood pressure. When your best friend, in-laws or someone close to you says something stupid or tries to butt into your business in a prying kind of way. Unless it gets real bad, most will just bite their lip to avoid a confrontation and hurt feelings. These discussions usually revolve around wedding plans, how to raise your children, or how to spend/not spend your money.
Level 6–“They just don’t get it” Frustration at this level is usually caused by others. The woman that continuously rams her shopping cart into your heel in the check-out line, the coworker that insists on blowing cigarette smoke in your direction because they think it’s funny, the neighbor that yells like a hyena at the young children she watches (Truth), the obnoxious drunk guy at the bar that is hitting on every girl or being Mr. Macho, the guy in the hospital parking garage booth that treats you like dirt after you’ve been pleasant and friendly….are all examples of level 6.
Level 7–“It’s time for colorful language and smashing things” This is the worst type of frustration; when you have to actually remove yourself and count to 10 out loud to stop the blood from curdling. This can happen when someone argues with your every move just because they can to make it seem like they have more control or know more than you do. This also happens when you are doing the right thing and somebody tries to block your progress (usually in a school or office setting). This level of frustration can also occur when the rule(s) seem to benefit others but put you at a disadvantage. You know, when someone less qualified gets a job over you because their uncle is the deputy commissioner.
The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a moment and determine which category it falls into and let me know. Will this help with the frustrated feelings? Probably not but it may make you realize that things aren’t as bad as they initially seemed or be a substitute for counting to 10 in a public place.