How to identify when frustration is limiting your flexibility

Photo credit: Pain Chaud

Photo credit: Pain Chaud

Quick – what the stickiest substance you can think of? Marshmallows that have been roasted over a campfire & are now all over your fingers? Chewing gum that’s annoyingly smeared on your favourite top?


Whatever substance you’re thinking of, multiple that by 100 & you’ll have an idea of how stubborn we humans tend to get when in conflict & how we get stuck in our own particular way of seeing & doing things.


What’s more whatever we’re thinking &/or doing in that moment of conflict has likely gone through the filter of this is ‘normal, natural & right.’ And the other person is the ______________ (fill in the blank – Moron? Idiot? Frustratingly horrible, no good, very bad person?)


The trick is, whatever is ‘normal, natural & right’ is based entirely on our own perspective. It can easily be ‘abnormal, unnatural & entirely wrong’ to someone else.


Frustration = Inflexibility


The more frustrated we are, & the more we’re in conflict, the less flexible we tend to be. And what’s worse, the more we’re stuck we get in same spot, with the same behaviour & the same thought patterns.


> of this


< of this


Frustration & conflict







To add fuel to that fire, the more different we are from the person we’re in conflict with, the more stuck we are in our own way of thinking because, well, they just seem that much more bizarre.


So where does that leave us? Typically it can mean doing more of whatever it is that’s not working.


But wait (she says with earnest hope in her voice having married someone very different from herself)– there’s hope! Honest.


When stressed are you more or less likely to zoom in on details?


First, here’s a quick quiz to help you figure out your tendencies & more importantly, how to move forward in a conflict.


Let’s say you just discovered that aforementioned gum on your favourite top, you’re late for an important meeting, you’re exhausted from working late the night before, you’re so hungry you’d eat the stale gum if you could get it off your damn top… you get the picture. You’re super stressed. So which is more likely for you, most of the time, A or B?

A). When my stress meter goes up I hunker down on the details. For example someone leaving open a bunch of cupboards in the kitchen, someone messing up my office filing system, stuff getting misplaced or being disorganized – all of those things drive me bonkers, & even more so when I’m stressed because I get hyper focused on details.



B) When my stress meter goes up I can loose myself in the clouds. I’m more likely to get a deadline mixed up, miss a meeting, be the person who mixes up said filing system above or looses my keys, my wallet or my phone. I get more forgetful & disorganized when stressed.


Boxed in thinking = Biased thinking


Either way, we’ve got boxes around our thinking that affect our choices & our behaviour. Without examination, these boxes can become our biases.


If you chose A from above your strength is likely in your systems & your attention to detail. In the language of the Life Lenses™ you’re likely a Carrot. And your downside when stressed, may be being hypervigilant to details that are neither strategic nor important.


If you chose B your strength is likely in your vision & your ability to strategize. In the language of the Life Lenses™ you’re likely a Mountain. And your downside, when stressed, may be having your head in the clouds, like an absent-minded professor who temporarily can’t see up from down.


The differences can dance beautifully together IF they’re acknowledged & appreciated. How do we do that? I’ll give you some quick, easy tips next post.


Let’s put those marshmallows to good use. Draw around the fire & tell me a story of a time you recognize being or seeing a carrot (detailed, organized, systems) &/or mountain (big picture, vision) in action. Me & my marshmallows will be waiting.


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