Develop tolerance for frustration

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Joe Dispenza

Develop tolerance for frustration

When you don't work on strategies for developing frustration tolerance, you can fall into harmful situations.

Last update: 16 September, 2021

Frustration is an emotion known to all. While it is not a pleasant feeling, it is inevitable and it is important to learn how to manage it. When you don't work on strategies for developing frustration tolerance, you can fall into harmful situations.

For example, there are those who tend to be sad because they don't know how to deal with this emotion. Likewise, others find a way out of anger, making scenes that they later regret.

However, developing frustration tolerance is possible if it's really a goal we're willing to invest our resources in. It is possible to adopt some strategies in daily life to improve in this regard.

Definition of frustration

The human brain assimilates the information that comes from the nervous system in different patterns, seeking adaptation to the environment at all times. The consequence is that process we call learning, which allows the development of behaviors so that the individual adapts to the environment.

In this way it can be said that expectations are a pillar of our mental functioning. The patterns the brain is used to working with associate expectations with possible consequences - as a rule, by classifying them in a multidimensional space (desirability, probability, cost-benefit).

To illustrate this, we can use the image of the child who agrees to eat vegetables because then a delicious dessert awaits him.

But what if dessert is not given to him? Frustration peeks out. According to Ruett and Justel (2010), the amygdala, the thalamus and the Pontine nucleus participate in this emotion. It is the response that occurs before the decrease or elimination of an expected reward.


How to develop frustration tolerance?

Developing frustration tolerance is possible during childhood experiences. Growing up, the child discovers that it is not always possible to get what he wants. However, there may be several circumstances that hinder this learning and create problems in adulthood.

A study developed by the American Psychological Association (APA) evaluated the consequences of overprotection for the child. The results showed that the overprotected children enjoyed less emotional management and poor frustration tolerance.

No matter what causes the inability to handle this feeling, it is essential to work on building personal resources that can help us in this sense. Otherwise, we will become adults subject to our own frustration, filled with a sadness that distances us from others or an anger that hurts.

Techniques for developing frustration tolerance

In order to develop frustration tolerance, the first thing to know is that it is not an easy job. Difficulties in regulating emotions come from patterns learned and strengthened over the years. Therefore, immediate results should not be expected, but with perseverance and commitment it is possible to improve.

1. Learn to recognize frustration

The first step in controlling an emotional response is recognizing it. If I know try to ignore or run away from the sensation, it will not be possible to process it and it will affect later. When we feel frustration, then, we need to take a moment to observe and understand how we feel.

It's not bad to feel frustrated when something doesn't go as planned. The problem arises when the feeling acquires a disproportionate intensity and directs the actions of individuals.

2. Express your emotions

Frustration is often accompanied by other emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, surprise, among others. All these feelings are also valid, you have to accept them and create a space to express them appropriately.

In her work on Emotion Focused Therapy (TFE), Leslie Greenberg points out that it is essential for well-being. According to this scholar, it is the only way that "negative" emotions are processed and cease to have any effect.

3. Accept frustration as part of life

The third step in developing frustration tolerance is to accept it as part of life. It will not always be possible to achieve the expected results and this does not determine personal value.

After all, there is no way to achieve a goal, rather it is about perseverance and perseverance.

4. Create a positive mantra or self-verbalization

As simple as it may seem, using a phrase such as a "mantra" is helpful in reducing negative thoughts. Along the same lines, try to find phrases that have helped you in difficult situations.

Once identified, write them down on a list and repeat them when you feel frustration. This will make it much easier to manage the negative effects of that emotion.

5. Define your limits to develop tolerance for frustration

We all have capabilities and limitations. Knowing our limits produces better results. At the same time, it takes us away from that emotional management of frustration that always wears out.

This does not mean that we should be content with the less ambitious option. We just have to take into account our limitations, our personal development and possible areas of expansion or growth.

6. Begin a psychotherapy process

Part of being human is accepting that no one is perfect and that everyone has problems that affect them. This does not mean that they are less valuable and it is always possible to find a way to work on their conflicts. Therefore, the psychotherapy is an excellent alternative to study these difficulties and address them.


Don't forget that the most important step in change is to accept the problem. Once identified, it becomes easier to find a way to change circumstances.

Keep this in mind when plan strategies to develop frustration tolerance in everyday life.

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