Why Frustration is a Powerful Tool For Change (And Six Steps You Can Take)

frustration tool for change

Let me give you the bad news first – no one is immune from frustration.  But there is good news – depending on how you deal with frustration, it can be a powerful catalyst for change in your life!  Frustration itself won’t help you change, but it’s how you respond to frustration that will allow you to cross over to the other side. It’s a stepping stone to realize your fullest potential.

Consult not your fears and frustrations, but your hopes and dreams.  Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfilled potential.  – Pope John Paul XXIII

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is to act like it is impossible to fail.  – Dorthea Brande

Here are some ways frustrations helps us move forward:

1.  New Possibilities:  Without the frustrations of our current situations, it’s unlikely we will look for new ways of doing things.

2. Growth in Faith:  Frustration can help us put a focus on seeking God in deeper ways.  Often those seasons lead us to sweet times of trust and faithfulness in our spiritual lives that would not have otherwise happened.

3. A Desire To Change:  Without the occurrence of frustration, the desire to change doesn’t emerge.  As an example, until we become frustrated with clutter in our lives, we don’t organize. It takes losing the keys or shoes one too many times to become a catalyst to doing something about it.

Frustration is the conflict between expectation and reality. Frustration often opens the door to change in our lives. Small inconveniences don’t cause us to look very hard at making an changes, but over time, these frustrations build and cause us to do something about it.

Here are six steps you can take to help move from frustration to action.

Pinpoint the Cause

What is the cause of the frustration? Take a good hard look and get down to the actual reason. A good question for this is “Why am I frustrated?”  Keep asking “why” until you get there.  With each answer, ask the why question again. Why am I frustrated?  Because John yelled at me at work. Why did John yell at me at work? Because I was late again.  Why was I late again?  Because I overslept after staying up too late.  So what is the cause of my frustration? My own sleeping habits and discipline.

Other times, we pinpoint the cause and determine that there is nothing we can do about the situation.  If there is truly nothing we can do, then we work with what is given to us.  Here’s something that might help:  Determine if it’s a problem or an obstacle.  

Change Your Focus

We need to change our focus to what is working and how to improve.  If we focus too long on the issues, we get into a stalemate.  So much of life is about perspective.  If you are down in the dumps, frustrated about something going on, you may need to take some time to focus outward.  Help someone, pray, reach out, read, volunteer, or anything to get out of a sole focus on your situation.

Think of Solutions

Be a solution person, not a complaint person. Anyone can think of what’s wrong, “but what I want,” as John Maxwell says, is “the leader who comes into my office with possible solutions.”  When you get frustrated, brainstorm solutions – all the possible ones you can think of.  Then take a look at the list and see what could work.

Be Enthusiastic

Have you ever noticed that small problems don’t rise up when things are going well?  When life is upbeat and the sun is shining, little problems don’t seem to matter.  But when we’re already down in the dumps, little things hit us hard. Become enthusiastic about life and the opportunities!  Your attitude will thwart some of the little frustrations that come your way.

Overcome Negative Self Talk

It’s often those voices in our own mind that cause us points of frustration. Take captive of thoughts.  Don’t tell yourself you “can’t” or that things are worse than they are.  It’s difficult, but we must overcome the negativity we feed ourselves each day.

Take Action

This may be one of the best steps to turn frustration into good change – take action. You must take a step toward doing something.  What will your action step be?  Do you need to quit something?  Do you need to learn something? Do you need to grow in discipline?  Do you need to read the Bible more? Do you need to organize your schedule better? Whatever it is, take a step. Step into action.


Some of the information in this blog post was inspired by The Anatomy of Frustration by Richard Onebamoi. You can pick up a digital copy for $2.99.



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