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What the H.E.C.K.! How to Reframe Frustration in 4 Simple Steps

We have all had those moments.

You slip and nearly fall on a spill someone failed to clean up in the break room at work. You grab the eggs out of the fridge, and every single egg falls and breaks all over the ground because the carton wasn't closed when they were put back last. Or you come out of a yoga class to find your all-too-common black Old Navy flip-flops were mistakenly worn home by someone else.

Yep. All of these happened to me.

There sure doesn't seem to be a shortage of WTF moments in life, does there? Frustration is a very common human response to things that we feel are happening to us.

The process of learning to shift our mindset to one where things are happening for us takes time.

So while I strongly encourage that undertaking, I humbly offer a solution for the meantime, that I created at the start of my journey.

OK, so maybe "Heck" wasn't the first word that popped into my head as I walked barefoot down the street to my car, post-yoga class, but it's close enough. Each letter of the acronym represents a step perfectly, so maybe we censor ourselves in the spirit of growth, just for now.

Step 1: Humor

When in doubt, Laugh It Out.

Provided you aren't seriously injured, I highly encourage you to take a breath, look around with fresh eyes, and see the hilarity of the situation. As I careened haphazardly toward a work fridge, clumsily juggled eggs in the air like a struggling circus performer, or hit the streets hippie-style with my yoga mat in hand, I have to admit, it was kinnnnda hysterically funny.

Step 2: Education

Never let an opportunity for learning pass you by.

Now that you have lightened the mood with a good chuckle, you can become curious about what hidden lessons are awaiting you.

I still don't watch where I walk often, but I'm more graceful and nimble about my missteps. These days, I'm always careful to use two hands to grab the eggs out of the fridge. And I now wrap my shoes in another article of clothing or thread my keys through the flip-flop straps. The point is to try to take anything useful you can from the situation. Refrain from playing the Blame Game, and merely observe the situation like a detective looking for clues. And then lovingly craft a "Note to Self" and tuck it away for safekeeping.

Step 3: Compassion

I love this Dalai Lama quote:

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Compassion actually means "to suffer together," although we have come to use it to describe a feeling of being sensitive to or wanting to ease the suffering of another. As the third step in my technique, compassion is usually required twice.

When you know that someone else is the cause of your current frustrating situation, it's not always easy to feel compassion for them. Sometimes it helps to imagine yourself as the "doer." Try to think of reasons why you may have done something similar. Maybe you can even find examples in your life when you have.

Secondarily, you may need to summon up a little self-compassion.

Again, there is something to be learned - always.

Don't waste your energy with what-ifs or should-haves. Send a little love, or forgiveness or well wishes to anyone involved, and move right along to Step 4.

Step 4: Kindness

Forgive me in advance for the barrage of quotes:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

― Aesop

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”

— Seneca

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.”

— Morgan Freeman

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

― Mark Twain

Ok, you get the picture... It's cool to be kind, y'all!

But just as with compassion, it may not be your go-to in the midst of frustration. Here are the facts though: 'the thing" - whatever it was - has already happened. It can't be undone. The fastest way to feel better about it is to perform an act of kindness to yourself or to others. It may be as simple as cleaning the spill for the next person, or as complicated as checking the fridge contents for potential spill hazards.

The tricks to Steps 3 & 4 are to not get too hung up on the identification of the perceived "culprit."

I know who didn't close the eggs all the way.

I have no idea who wore my shoes home.

Didn't matter either way. I did the best I could to not make anyone feel bad, to forgive either aloud or in my head, and to make the situation better in some way. Even if that only meant leaving the last pair of abandoned shoes for the rightful owner and hitting the pavement with a sheepish smile.

So, I hope next time you are provided an opportunity to practice a Frustration Reframe, you are able to laugh a little, learn a little, and love a little.

Big Love, Bright Light, and Purely Positive Vibes, Kris

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