Life can be so unfair at times and it can be filled with unforeseen contingencies that throw you off course. But you can save yourself a lot of troubles by preparing for such contingencies before they eventually emerge, in order to stay emotionally and mentally healthy. If you're going through emotional trauma as a result of family problems, financial bankruptcy, economic depression, bereavement, divorce, unemployment or other hardships, you'll find inner relief from frustration by following these steps.
1. Never expect too much too soon. Someone who just starts a grocery business with five thousand dollars and expects a turnover of a billion dollars at the end of the business year might be said to expect too much too soon. Business––and personal goals––take time to grow and flourish. You can think big, plan big and see the big picture of what you expect in your dreams and imagination. But avoid falling into the trap of wanting it to happen quickly––there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme or an overnight transformation of years of unhelpful habits.
2. Do not set unrealistic goals. Thinking "I want to be the richest man on earth at 30" might be too unrealistic a goal to set for yourself. Instead, set a goal like "I want to make my first million dollars by 30". By focusing on something concrete and achievable, you sidestep the ridiculousness of goals like "I want to rule the world" or "I want to visit every city in the world" and strive instead for what can really be done. Frustration is normal when you set goals beyond achieving; be smarter than that.
3. Expect people to disappoint you. It is in the nature of humans to make mistakes, whether major or minor. Moreover, realize that whatever you do, many people will dislike you; it is simply the nature of being part of the human species. Stop striving to try to please everyone and you'll stop feeling frustrated when they don't, and you'll stop giving them the power to hurt your feelings. In turn, realize that the mistakes and omissions you make in life are disappointing to others; this isn't all about how you're impacted, as you can serve as a source of frustration too! As such, expect others to let you down, make mistakes and disappoint you now and then; you cannot have one standard for yourself and another for everyone else.
• Be aware that at times people will disappoint you, not because they want to, but because they have their own unresolved issues which may get in the way of helping you. In other words, do not take it personally.
• Be resourceful. While it is important to know when and how to ask for help, it is also important not to expect too much of others and to avoid being dependent on them.
• Keep to healthy relationships, where the balance of give and take is, on the whole, reciprocal and without manipulation. However, expect sometimes to give unconditionally, knowing and accepting without grudge that your giving won't always be matched in kind.
• Realize that you cannot make people do your bidding. You can persuade, encourage and pay people but you won't change people or cause them to do things for you simply because you think they owe you and ought to.
4. Do not make empty promises. Do not book an appointment with your business partner or a prospective client when you're not sure if you are going to make it. Do not form the habit of fixing a date with your spouse without showing up. Once the most important people in your life lose confidence and trust in you, they will walk out of your life and leave you frustrated. But it is not their fault, and that is something you know deep down, even if you're unwilling to acknowledge.
5. Do not imitate anyone but learn from everyone. You may send your true self to extinction if you strive to be like someone else. Be yourself. Do not try to be like a super hero from Hollywood or like a super model from the fashion world. However, by all means learn from the famous and the seemingly insignificant people you know. This is not about learning to become "like" them; instead it's about learning from their experiences to apply to your own. The sorts of things to ask yourself include: What have they done that has made them successful? What pitfalls have they experienced and what did they do to cope? How did they get through challenging times in their lives? What did they do in their craft or field that stood out from others and what can you learn from that? What good habits have they developed that might possibly be tailored to work in your life too? Always focus on how to customize the good things you're seeking to emulate in a way that enhances who you are.
• Read biographies and autobiographies. Reading about others who have been through a similar challenge to whatever you're facing and who survived (and perhaps even thrived) might offer you some comfort in your distress. You can learn how they responded to their challenges before they eventually prevailed.
6. Do not stress yourself. Do things because you want to do them. Do not live to become a people pleaser. You cannot help everybody. Just try to help those who really need your help. Do not overload your schedule of activities for each day. Try to seek help when you need it. You can not afford to be full of yourself. Share your problems with like-minded people who can offer help and relief.
7. Always have a plan B. When planning, always think rationally. Have the end in mind. Come up with alternatives to your plan A in case it does not work out. You might even have Plans C and D. If you give yourself other options, you won't spend fruitless time fuming when Plan A doesn't work out as you wanted; life often doesn't work out the way you expect and it is by being ready for this reality that you set aside frustration.
8. Never put all your eggs in one basket. If you want to invest, do not put all your capital in a business all at once. Make it gradual and watch its growth and returns before you inject more cash. Moreover, never invest in a business you know little or nothing about; always do your background research and know what you're getting yourself into. Spread your wealth across different forms of savings and investment. While the one big-time investment might promise huge returns that have you imagining a lifetime of luxury, too many times such schemes fail people and leave them destitute. Don't put yourself in such a precarious situation; practice patience and slow-but-sure wealth growth rather than pursuing get rich quick solutions.
9. Accept responsibility for the things you do and think. Outrage, taking offense and blaming others are rampant responses to anything that bugs people in modern society. You are fully responsible for your nature and for the choices you make. Should you choose to think otherwise, to seek to blame others all the time, you will live a life in frustration, precisely because nothing will ever be as you want it and nobody will ever do what you expect. You relinquish your power to improve yourself on your own terms when you seek to absolve yourself of blame all the time.
10. Know what you want in life. Be specific about what exactly you want in life. Determine the kind of business you want to do. Know the kind of person you want to marry. Determine the place where you want to live. Calculate the number of hours you want to work per week and the income you expect to foot your bills and help you get things done. Get your life back in the balance and recast your priorities.
• Master your thoughts and master your life. A lot of frustration stems from your own bad thoughts. Root out the negative thoughts and replace them with good.
• Perfectionism is a source of continuous frustration. You never live up to some supposed standard of "just right" and nor do those around you. Realize that you, other people, and the world are all imperfect and that random bad luck happens sometimes––no amount of trying to manage or manipulate the situation can change that reality. It might help you to realize that failure happens more often than success––for everyone––and yet it is the most useful tool for learning from that has ever been devised!
• If you're time challenged, keep a diary or an electronic calendar and fill it in religiously. Carry it with you everywhere and use reminder signals. You will frustrate yourself (and many others) if you constantly turn up late or miss appointments.
• If you constantly exaggerate the adverse effects of things that happen to you or see yourself as a victim of a succession of bad events, you will always feel frustrated because everything will seem bent on stopping you living life to the full. There are many good psychology tools, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you overcome such negative thinking patterns.
• The world owes you nothing. One of the biggest forms of frustration is the modern-day tendency to see the world as a place that "must be easy" (to paraphrase Albert Ellis). The world is indifferent and isn't going to bend to your will; your attitude is what determines how you cope with the world's indifference.
• Do not see the steps above as an inexhaustible list of what you can do to master frustration in your life. The idea is to recognize common threads of avoiding frustration and adapt them to your own situation, as they come up. Do not view any prescription for how to live life as a do-it-all solution to life's problems––most of what happens to you is largely a function of your choices and attitude, something over which only you have control.
NB: This article was first published in 2012 for WikiHow Media Network. It was the first originally written article I contributed to help people. It has been edited severally and contributed to by 12 co-authors at WikiHow. Ever since then it has been reviewed 110 times and viewed 38 537 times. It was rated 4 stars and 86% of readers said they found it helpful. I hope you find it helpful too.