The Union Path

In times of frustration, we may be following a path away from ourselves, away from where we actually want to go.

Show Notes

When we understand ourselves and our emotions better, we become more empowered to make decisions and shape our lives for the better. The key to cultivating this insight and self-awareness is to find a calm center within ourselves and practice recognizing and managing our emotions.

When frustration arises, it can be easy to get lost in it, and the feelings can be misleading and distracting. We must remember that we have the power to choose our response and our own beliefs, and that it is important to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. Instead of getting caught up in the intensity of the emotion, we can take the time to breathe and remember that, no matter how strong the feelings might be, they will pass. This allows us to observe our thoughts and feelings and gain useful data and insights before making a decision.

We can also learn to question the stories we tell ourselves and take the time to look beneath our reactions. Is this really an obstacle? Is it really bad? Am I sure? Are these stories that I'm telling about what always happens to me? How I always do this and never that? Is that actually true? Asking ourselves these questions puts us in a better position to make informed decisions, and to view the situation from a more centered perspective.

Finally, we must remember that we have the power to not use all of our energy to fight our frustrations, but to instead do something else. It is possible to choose to acknowledge what is happening, and to intentionally do something different. We can create a gap between stimulus and reaction, and become more conscious and present for the reason behind our feelings.

Ultimately, understanding frustration and being mindful of our emotions is an essential step to transforming our lives for the better. With practice, we can build better habits, take back our power, and become more aware and present in our lives.

Full episode transcript available at:

What is The Union Path?

Mindful monologues to awaken your consciousness and nourish your soul.

In this introspective podcast, I aim offer you heartfelt rumination to inspire your own growth and self-discovery.

Are you seeking deeper meaning, truth, purpose or peace in your life? Join me as I unfold observations and awareness along the spiritual path - what I have learned, struggled with, found insight into.

Let these moving soliloquies gently prompt self-inquiry as you contemplate the deeper questions we all face: why do you suffer? How can you cultivate more inner calm and wisdom?

There is no dogma here, only my pondering as I illuminate and ponder our shared experiences living.

My hope is that by modeling raw exploration rooted in courageously questioning “why?”, these thoughtful meanderings awaken self-understanding and nourish your soul.

Consider these unconventional audio journal entries as a way to inspire and awaken your own internal wise teacher, taking your hand to guide you in looking within your own mysterious inner landscape in a new way. Feel less alone. Find inspiration to expand your self-awareness and consciousness with me each week.

The Union Path Podcast - Frustration Can Be Misleading

We all get frustrated sometimes, of course we do. We're human beings, no matter how advanced or evolved or enlightened we think we are, we still have expectations. We still experience disappointment. We're still human beings after all.

But what's important about frustration is to not give it too much power, not give it too much say in what we do or why.

And the reason why this is so, is because frustration can often be very misleading, can often be a distraction because a lot of times frustration is really kind of a tangent to our lives,

really has a bit of an oblique relationship with who we really are and what we're actually here to do, but it's one of the easiest things to get lost in.

And in those times when we really get into our feelings, where we really feel frustrated, those can be some of the hardest times to remember ourselves. Remember our true selves. To remember that it's not usually very helpful to come at life with a sense of unleashed fury. That doesn't usually lead to outcomes we actually want. It tends to leave more of a trail of damage and destruction, than positivity and creation.

But realizing these things in the moment, realizing these things at times where we actually have agency, where we actually have access to do something different,

well, that's a little harder, sometimes a lot harder. And obviously the more charged the emotional state is, the more difficult it is to break the momentum of it. Because it's energy, right? And there's a lot of energy pouring towards something, it's difficult to change the direction and intensity of that energy. There's an inertia to it. There's a force that it carries with it, that often carries us away as well.

But when there's something we're trying to attain, or when we're just going about the activities of daily life, and we experience frustration,

what gets really unhelpful about is how it can lead us down a path that isn't particularly productive. That can lead us to a place where we rehash and ruminate over past experiences.

Where we take slights against us and build them into a story, or continue on a story we've been telling for some time. We amplify what happens to us by equating it with a pattern, with a trend, with a theme. We make it more than it really is because this isn't just some random occurrence.

This is something that often happens to us. Maybe we feel it always happens to us. Maybe we feel like even beyond that there's some deeper judgment, something like, we can never get what we want. We can never be happy. We can never be the person that we want to be. We can never live the way we want, because there there are too many of these frustrations in the way.

That if we could just clear all of these out, that we could just do kind of a once and for all house cleaning, and have all these annoyances,

all of these obstacles cleared from our life, then we'd be able to do what we want. Then we'd be able to be who we want. Then we'd be able to have the life that we want.

We'd actually be able to be ourselves. But of course, life doesn't work that way, right? Obstacles and frustrations or challenges or setbacks, whatever we want to call them, is just part of the deal. We're not guaranteed constant and easy progression. In fact, most of us experience quite the opposite. For most of us, the progress and the growth and the achievement that we attain is hard-earned.

We may even look back and figure, you know, I'm not really sure the juice was worth the squeeze. I'm not really sure that all this growth and awareness and everything I've gathered, throughout my life, is really worth the struggle and strain to acquire it.

But if we take these sorts of thoughts and we look underneath them, I think with even a moderate amount of self-awareness, we realize a lot of the struggle and strain was optional. A lot of the toll that the frustrations of our life have taken on us has really been more about our own reactions, our own internal conflict, than it has been about the events or circumstances themselves.

Because it's really easy when things happen to us that we don't want, or when things happen to us that seem to be obstacles in the way of what we're trying to achieve,

or even we feel like things happen that set us back, that diminish us in some way, these thoughts, these judgements about what has happened to us, is really what causes the stress and the strain. It's the way we surmise and define what happens to us that causes our reaction. In a really oversimplified way, things like stress and frustration and despair even aren't universal. You can have two people experience the exact same thing and have completely different responses to it.

One person might be completely crushed and gutted over it, another might be fairly nonplussed and just kind of shrug it off. The event's the same, but the reaction or the response is completely different.

And we really start to piece this together for ourselves, the most obvious thing that comes to us is, well, then we actually have a fair amount of agency over how things affect us, at least over the longer term.

We're the ones who choose our own beliefs. Because of this, we're the ones that choose how we think about and whether we continue to think about what happens to us.

And with something like frustration, it's really easy to get sidetracked, it's really easy to be triggered into following a tangent that isn't really that helpful.

Because what do we do, when we get frustrated with something, the knee jerk response is to push against it, is to clear it out of our way, so we move our focus from where we're going to clearing this obstacle.

Oftentimes, it's not as simple as we think it is. The meaning that we attach to this circumstance can sometimes be arbitrary, if not incorrect, but it's the meaning that we act from. It's the meaning that not only defines the circumstance, but dictates our response.

So we start to think about things that frustrate us in our life, things that feel like they're in our way, things that trigger emotion, that feels negative, that feels bad, and then that emotion triggers reaction.

It can be really important to trace a lot of this back, to really look underneath these reactions and really ask ourselves, now wait a minute, is this thing that's happening actually bad? How do I know? Is this story that I'm creating that, ah, this always happens to me. I'm always having to push against something. I'm always having to fight for every little scrap that I get, whatever the story is. Is it true?

See, this is where the two sided responsibility and agency comes into play. When we realize we're responsible for quite a bit of our experience of life, if we can take that truth, if we can integrate that knowing,

and really accept and own that responsibility, then what we get access to is agency. What we get access to is freedom. What we get access to is the knowledge that well, if we've created our lives to this point, and if we've done that creation largely unconsciously,

then from this point going forward, we can start to engage in that creation far more consciously. We can do things in a more directed way. We can focus and steer our intention towards what we actually want, based on who we actually are.

Because the thing about frustration, especially when it's experienced over a long period of time, is that it leads us into pretty unhelpful mental and behavioral states. It leads us into an overly reactionary way of being. It leads us into an overly self-centered way of being.

It leads us away from the path we're actually on, and builds a new sidetrack that really leads us more in a circle, really reinforces itself,

really gets us into a state where we're spending a lot of our energy pushing against, rather than moving forward.

Because there's something we really want, or there's something we feel we're really working towards, and then something happens that feels like a setback or feels like an obstacle in the way of that attainment,

we have a few different choices in how we want to deal with that. One of them could be just ignore it, but then obviously the problem with ignoring things is we don't acknowledge what's happening,

we don't acknowledge our own internal response to what's happening. We keep ourselves unconscious, we keep ourselves much more prone to repeating patterns and behaviors over and over and over again.

Or we can immediately push back against what's happening. This is especially easy if the emotional trigger is centered around pain, pain from past experiences in our lives, especially.

But then we start to push against this obstacle thinking that we have to clear this thing out of the way before we can continue on the way we're going, we get distracted.

We get sometimes overtaken by whatever this obstacle is, especially when we built this up in our mind to be really powerful, really responsible for what we've gotten so far,

and also responsible for keeping us from what we're trying to attain in the future. The stronger than emotional charge is, the stronger our focus gets, the more forceful our action gets.

But if we can instead go a third way, and acknowledge that this thing happened, look at it from a more considered, more centered place, then we can ask ourself questions like, is this really an obstacle? Is this really bad? Am I sure? Are these stories that I'm telling about what always happens to me and how I always this and never that? Is that actually true?

And maybe a level underneath that, if those patterns have played out, am I the one actually perpetuating them? Through my reactions, am I the one making these things true?

Because the problem with burning too much of our awareness towards something outside of ourselves, by letting something that's frustrating us take up all of our attention, we miss everything around it. We miss being able to ask broader questions. We miss being able to take a wider view.

Our perspective gets collapsed down to the engagement and ultimate defeat of whatever this obstacle is, whatever this frustration is.

But oftentimes this intensity is not really necessary, in fact, maybe fairly unhelpful. Engaging in this reactivity can be building and reinforcing these meanings and stories that aren't actually true, while at the same time keeping us from moving forward just doing something else.

Because if we look at something in our way, if we look at these frustrations and ask ourselves, not only is this actually a problem, but what can I really do about this right now?

Then our course of action gets much clearer. Everything gets clearer, the more calm and centered we are, we've all experienced that. It's when things get overly charged that things get very confusing, or our options get condensed down to very few.

But that's the beauty of being centered within ourselves, is when we have that grounding, when we have that tether to that part of ourselves deep inside of us, that's always peaceful and calm,

then we know when we're being overly reactive. We know when we're getting overly fired up about something because it's so far, it's so distant, from what the inside of us feels like on a deep level. And the more we identify with and integrate this deep part of ourselves into our being, the more that becomes our baseline, the more that becomes our normal. And so it gets easier to spot the abnormal, it gets easier to spot when we're off baseline.

If we're used to just being emotionally reactive all the time. If we're used to just flailing about and jumping from thing to thing to thing. If we're used to applying maximum force to everyone and everything around us, if that's our normal, then trying to change that is a lot harder.

So when we're caught up in frustration, when we're caught up in our feelings about our frustration, just taking the time to breathe, taking the time to remember we don't have to fully engage with the intense feelings that are flowing through us.

We can breathe. We can let them blow by. We can remember, oh yeah, this feels really strongly because this is actually really important to me. Oh yeah, these feelings are really strong because I've had quite a bit of pain and these feelings are dredging up pain through association, which may not be completely valid.

Oh yeah, this hurts right now because I've chosen to believe that these sorts of things are just what happens to me, and it's only through constant vigilance, constant effort, constant perfection that I can hold them at bay.

If we can let these feelings go through us, let these triggered emotions blow by and not engage with them at their zenith, some of these other ideas can come up too. If we can let a strong emotion go by us without grabbing onto it, then the language and the meaning and the insight around these feelings can follow.

That if we can let the shockwave go by us, then we can stay aware and present for the why that follows. And when we do, we just learned something about ourselves. At the very least, we remembered something about ourselves, and that's really helpful. That's really useful.

Oftentimes, this is the benefit that people get from a meditation or mindfulness practice, is that it builds this gap between stimulation and reaction. We learn to observe our thoughts and feelings without directly engaging.

We learn to be able to observe our internal experience, rather than just constantly acting from it. And the longer we can pay attention, the longer we can stay present, the more information we can extract, the more data we can gather. And the more information we have, the more clear our insights will be, the more trustworthy our conclusions will be.

If we can just remind ourselves that this is just what's happening right now and I can choose to keep going. I can choose to not use all of my energy to try to fight this, and instead do whatever else is accessible to me.

I can choose to keep moving forward despite having these powerful emotions, despite having this pain.

Because that's the other thing too, that when things happen that frustrate us and there's that emotional charge there, it can be really easy to spend way too much effort and time trying to solve something that actually isn't ready to be solved yet. We want so bad, and not only push against this, but maybe reconcile or change the story that we have about it.

We can have strong emotional reasons for wanting to eliminate whatever this circumstance is as quickly as possible, but it's actually not a very useful thing to do right now. It's not a very efficient way to use our time or energy.

We can miss what's actually best to do, over focus on whatever we're the most triggered by, whatever is the most reactive that's happening to us right now.

But we can change these stories. We can lessen this reactivity by intentionally doing something different. By intentionally not reacting. By intentionally observing and bringing our awareness into what's happening inside of us. Really start to observe, and even sometimes question, what the circumstances bringing up within us.

Learning more about ourselves, inquiring into why we actually do what we do. Realizing that when we react a certain way, that even though we think we're solving a problem,

sometimes we actually make things worse, or at the very least, blow things out of proportion, and just end up distracting ourselves from what we're doing and delaying ourselves from where we're going.

But we can't really have a very clear head about things, we can't really consider things very deeply, we can't really bring a lot of awareness of something, when we're overly emotional.

And oftentimes we're overly emotional about something because there's something in there we've been ignoring. These emotions have been trying to tell us something, and they've reached the intensity that they have because we just weren't listening.

And so we listen, we pause. We bring our full awareness into what's happening. We take the time to really listen, really feel it, and then we act from that place. We respond from that place. And we keep moving forward.

Maybe this frustration is coming because we've gotten too rigid about what we're doing. Maybe this frustration is coming because we've gotten too rigid in our thinking, that things have to be a certain way in order to be good.

And then if we just relax a little bit, if we pay a little bit more attention, if we actually look around and see and feel what's actually happening, we might really learn something. We might really learn something which leads us to actually change, and then when we change, we unlock whatever growth we needed in order to really move forward.

We can resolve that pain, we can resolve that frustration, by being able to experience something different, because now we're different.

We can realize that obstacles will come and go, but it's the meaning and intensity that we assign them that dictates our experience.

And that's something we have a tremendous amount of say in. A tremendous amount of control over, and that we don't have to let our past define our future.

We can keep going. We can keep moving forward. We don't have to be frustrated. We can remember where we're actually going. We can remember who we actually are.

And we can know that it's only a matter of time until we get what we want, when we're walking the path from a place of who and what we actually are.