Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Low Tolerance For Frustration

I've noticed that many of us in 12-step, whether AA or Al-Anon, have a very low tolerance for frustration. We will try a couple of different avenues to effect a result, then throw whatever it is down in frustration, exclaiming that it's impossible, and we can't do it!

I've seen this happen with my sponsees, and I was very much that way, when I started in Al-Anon. I would talk myself out of doing whatever it was, if I didn't get instant results. I have had to learn that I cannot always see my way through a problem, in a glorious burst of insight lighting the way - sometimes it's more a matter of my nibbling a bit around the edges of the obstruction, until I'm reaching the stage of feeling frustrated, then put it down, consider that a "good enough" attempt, let it go, and work on something else. Or relax, put it out of my mind, and give myself a little reward for the effort. Eventually, there is nothing left to nibble, the barrier has been removed, my path becomes clear, and I can gallop to the finish line, with a rush of satisfied accomplishment.

In order to reach this stage of growth, I have had to let go of my desire for perfection. The program teaches us "progress, not perfection." I have had to learn that frustration is not a "bad" feeling, it's an indicator. Frustration is a sign to me that I am seeking to force a solution. This is true in all areas of my life, whether I'm trying to force two pieces of a "some assembly required" item together, and becoming maddened by their refusal to click into place, or wanting my way in a conflict with an alcoholic.

I can take a deep breath, put the object of my frustration aside, go for a dog walk with my friend and laugh myself silly over our stubborn natures, then arrive home in a wonderful mood, pick the item up again just to examine closely, and realise - I had one piece backwards! Or agree to disagree with the alcoholic, and go work in my garden, only to be granted an insight which changes my entire attitude, so that the next time we talk, I can open the exchange with an amend for my obstinacy.

I no longer refuse to start a project, for fear I won't be able to stand the frustration level I may feel during it. I may procrastinate a bit, but I welcome the chance to learn, and to practise my program.

1 comment:

  1. How true that is. I'm dealing with a sponsee who is resisting, not calling, not answering my calls. I decided to let him alone. I can't force the solution on him. I'm powerless.