Frustration is something everybody experiences at some time or another in their lives; whether it’s the frustration felt when a driver finds himself locked out of the car, or the frustration a mother feels when the children are late leaving for school – again! It is a word we often hear on people’s lips, including our own. But what is frustration? What do we mean by it?

Frustration, when opened up, seems to encompass a whole variety of emotions; anger, guilt, fear, sadness to name but a few. The degree to which these are experienced will vary from individual to individual, but, whatever the cause of frustration, there is always a sense of helplessness – an inability to rectify the situation.

By exploring a person’s frustrations, seeking to understand what they are feeling and why, insight may be gained on deeper psychological issues. Furthermore, by specifically exploring the sense of helplessness, much can be learned about a person's expectations – of others, of themselves, of life.


Frustration generally materialises because we do not want to accept what has happened. Before we can begin to explore whether there is anything we can do to change the situation, we have to accept that it has happened and not fight against it.

We can only really begin to move forward when we look it full in the face and work with it, rather than rail against it. We may then feel that we want to change things, but that can only come out of this place of initial acceptance.

One writer very helpfully identified, many years ago, that there are two kinds of pain in the world. Firstly, the pain we cannot avoid when things go wrong, possibly through no fault of our own. But secondly, the pain that we experience when we do not accept the first pain – and that pain can be avoided. 

We may be feeling very hurt at the way someone has rejected us, but if we will not accept that we have been rejected and fight against it, the pain we experience will be considerably greater, and frustration may be a very real part of our experience.

Thus acceptance of the situation will reduce the pain to a more manageable level, and we can then work out, maybe with the help of mature, and trustworthy friends or family, how we should respond to the cause of the pain; whether we should simply continue to accept it or whether there is something that can be done to rectify the situation.

This is just a brief and superficial look at frustration. Hopefully, enough has been said to show that frustration in itself is worthy of our attention if we are to understand ourselves better and become stronger, more secure people. 

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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