Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dealing With Frustration

(This blog was originally posted on July 15, 2014)

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

      What frustrates you? Being stuck in rush-hour traffic? Having to chase your dog around the neighborhood to catch him after he jumped the fence? Sleeping through your alarm and being late for work? Pop-up ads that block the computer screen and impede your work until you figure out how to get rid of the advertisement? The list goes on. Following are some practical relaxation and visualization skills that you can use to help you relax when you experience stress during such moments of frustration.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing. Draw a slow, deep breath through your nose; hold it four three or four seconds and then release the air through your mouth. Breathing this way not only relaxes the tension in your physical body; it also provides a tangible example (proof) that you can control a specific physical behavior. Repeat this exercise several times until you notice that your pulse/heartbeat returns to its normal (resting) rate.
  • Let your conscious awareness of the situation help you out. According to Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D.’s Theory of Mind, your subconscious mind is likely following a mental script about how it thinks you “should” respond or behave when you are frustrated. When you are in a situation with which you regularly associate anxiety and frustration, you are likely to experience these negative emotions as soon as your SCM recognizes similar themes in that environment. Practice diaphragmatic breathing while you focus your attention on specific physical characteristics (message units) of the stimuli you experience around you. What do you see, hear, feel, taste or smell? Directing your conscious attention to these individual details in this way will not only help to relax you by distracting your attention away from the source of your stress or frustration. It will also inundate your SCM with these new message units and help to create a new, different (innocuous) mental script about this formerly stress-inducing environment.
  • Focus on your options/solutions. As Gil Grissom, one of my favorite characters from the original cast of CBS’ hit series, CSI, used to say: “There is always a clue.” Once your physical body is relaxed and your mind is calm, you can turn your attention to finding solutions to the problem that is causing your stress. Once your subconscious mind has created new associations (knowns­) between feeling calm and your ability to focus, it becomes easier to create new solutions for reducing your frustration or even access previously proved (success) mental scripts to manage your frustration.
  • Be polite and gracious to the people around you. Good manners go a long, long way to preventing the development of additional social/emotional stress in your environment. For example, if there is a long line at the drug store when you go to pick up your prescription, you can be pretty sure that other people, including the clerk, are also experiencing frustration about the wait. The simple physical action of smiling at the people around you transforms your negative energy/emotion into a positive response. As Dr. Kappas liked to remind his clients and students, it is impossible for two opposite emotions to exist at the same time. In addition, positive emotion has stronger energy than a negative emotion such as anger or frustration. When you smile, you not only convert the negative energy but also (metaphorically) invite solutions that will resolve your problem, including another person offering to help you out.
 Finally, hypnotherapy and therapeutic-guided imagery are great tools to help you learn to relax and manage/control stress and frustration. I will teach you simple breathing and relaxation exercises that you can use to help reduce stress and create a hypnotic script to help manage your frustration during specific situations. I will also give you a recording of your hypnosis to keep that you can listen to and reinforce the relaxation techniques that we worked on during your hypnotherapy session.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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