When frustration boils over

It all gets too much sometimes; last week felt like this. Trying to make headway in the crucial areas of my life never seems to happen, like I’m spinning my wheels.

Personal stuff bothers me; I won’t go into details, but my lifestyle is in transition, and I want it to go faster. I want a room for my studio/study so I can work better, deeper. Frustration is here because it’s happening too slow.

Like so many of us, the state of the world, the politics are more worries added to the pile. Perhaps what put me over the edge was not feeling enough is being done to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, etc.

Last week, it all seemed too much to consider, ponder, and all I wanted was to do something about it all, but my limitations of time and money mean I can’t.

I fluctuate between anger, despair, pessimism, loneliness.

I write, think, plan, read, watch videos, and these are my safer spaces, but too much escape leads to the very stagnation I feel. 

Worse still, I feel I must push myself harder, so I try to work harder. Then beat myself up for not working hard enough, and then beat me up for not beating myself up enough so that I work harder.

I also noticed that when such frustration boils up, I start looking for new avenues to work. Like activism or an environmental new science-based career, because I have an interest in these areas too. My mind wanders to paths, not being taken.

I see now these are distractions because I can’t make the current desire work. As a result, I’m wasting time scattering my energy instead of focusing on what I’m doing and enjoy doing: my writing and art.

I read more, study more, learn more, research more, think more, and sometimes take action, but it’s still not enough. The need for control is hard to let go of.

Even taking a step back, taking a moment to contemplate, and slow down, turns into a desire to ‘relax harder’. It’s not a way to live a happy life, always chasing, always desperate.

Sometimes it’s best to be patient with myself because frustration, stagnation, and despair go away in time—a good reminder of Abraham Lincoln.

‘It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!’

The way forwards is better habits; that’s what I realised; instead of studying more, reading yet another book, it’s reaching out to others—online forums or, better still, face to face.

Frustration is part of the journey I know now, so I need to do better by dealing with it better.

To make a point of working less, doing less, relaxing more.

But there’s the rub; now I’m turning relaxation into work, a desire to do better by working at relaxing more. Like those idiots who try to track their sleep or relaxation periods as if it’s some competitive sport.

The best thing to do is let go of needing to do better or worse, doing more or doing less, of success or failure.v This is the place the Buddhists speak of, a place beyond dualisms.

Just be, bring your mind to the now, take some deeper breaths, then make choices from a place of calm and peace, not from frustration or want.

Overwork creates stress and worry, which makes the need to work harder at fixing that problem. Relaxation then becomes yet another reason to get on the treadmill of work.

‘I must work harder at relaxing.’

What’s needed is for us to step away from the overwork. To find those moments of serenity and peace in the storm

To let go and stop trying so much and so hard.

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