Frustration is a perennial and ubiquitous problem that we all face every day. It is largely characterized by not being able to get what we want and the attendant feelings, which give rise to anger and irritability. In general, we are frustrated when we cannot have what we want when we want is.
An approach to dealing with these feelings is to get perspective and accept the need for delayed gratification. To delay gratification is the ability to postpone having one’s desires met until a more appropriate time or place may occur. The delay of gratification comes from our ability to tolerate not having our desires met immediately. This is expressed in terms of using the more mature parts of our mind to compensate for the childlike part of our mind.
For example, if a two-year-old wants a piece of candy, and he is denied, he cries and has a tantrum. This is not unusual behavior at this age; however, the same behavior in a twenty-year-old would be unacceptable. One must look for more mature ways to cope with the frustration of desires. One way is to accept that we do not always get what we want. The second is to look for ways to obtain gratification by other means. In the above-mentioned example, the twenty-year-old can accept that he or she needs to go without a treat and look for satisfaction in other areas, such as exercise or gardening, that do not involve candy but do give satisfaction.
In my practice, my patients experience the problems of frustration everywhere. People have trouble tolerating it. One of the hallmarks of my work with people is to help them identify the nature of the problems and develop the abilities to cope more effectively with these problems.
In seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress, people are often frustrated if I cannot provide an immediate answer or cure. I reassure them that while I may not be able to work magic in one session, there are satisfactory resolutions, but it requires time and effort to obtain them. The ability to tolerate frustration successfully is one of the features of adulthood as is the ability to understand that immediate gratification seldom occurs in reality.