by Dr. Devin Shoquist

Whether you realize it or not, you have achieved all important milestones in your life by experiencing and overcoming frustration. The best examples can be seen in very young children. They struggle for months to take their first steps to become mobile, and they struggle for years to master a language that allows them to clearly express their needs. Prior to this, all an infant can do is cry and hope that a loving parent is able to interpret this expression of frustration in a way that will relieve it.

Even as young adults we experience frustration that motivates us to strive for independence and overcome the challenges of getting a driver’s license, furthering our education, and finding a job. This frustration may develop out many things. We may have a home we want to escape, a dream car that we would like to own, or even want to achieve something as daunting as becoming the best in the world at something.

Unfortunately the brain is not like a good bottle of wine that gets better with age by sitting in a cool dark room. It needs constant pressure to grow, develop, and even maintain skills over time. Our brain and central nervous system hunger for frustration. The gaining of new knowledge, a desire to experience and understand love, and the ability to master a new skill are the things that make our nerve cells buzz with excitement.

A good question to ask yourself is how well you handle frustration. Do you see it as a challenge to overcome, and an opportunity for growth? Or do you yell and scream and hope someone comes to your rescue?

Next time you start to feel that anger or anxiety building, try to stop and think for a minute. Are you trying to blame something or someone else for your feelings? Do you find yourself reaching for food or substances to make those feelings go away? Believe it or not, you may be stunting your brain’s ability to develop new nerve cell pathways that can help you in challenging situations.

If you are a person that doesn’t handle frustration well, maybe it’s time to turn the corner. Don’t see this as an opportunity to have someone meet your needs, but find a way to meet them for yourself. Or maybe the feeling of need isn’t even worth trusting in that moment? Feel the struggle for all it’s worth, and find a new way to overcome it. You will gain confidence, and those nerve cells might even start buzzing with excitement again to face the next challenge to come your way.

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