The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Considering frustration

Leaders can find themselves confronted with frustration. Their own as well as the one expressed by or in their teams.

Most people know frustration through their own experience. They’ll know that it can disappear after a while, but they might also know that a similar feeling can reappear and repeat itself.

Something they might have missed is how expressing frustration is a container for emotions that they find hard to reveal or notice.

Elements of frustration can for example be guilt, anger, disappointment, or fear. It requires some emotional literacy to become aware of the emotions driving the frustration. And even more so to express them.

But it also requires courage to express and even notice them. Especially in a social setting where emotions tend to be avoided or a work setting in which emotions often take the back seat to performance or efficiency.

However, without the work to notice which emotions frustration seeks to express and without the ability to name them, frustration cannot be dealt with effectively. Neither by the person experiencing it nor the person affected by it.

That’s because whatever is causing the emotions present cannot emerge.

As there is no clarity on what to address, people search for ways to calm the effects of the frustration or try to overcome it. Both approaches lead to some kind of denial of the person’s experience and leave it unattended. Allowing the frustration to reappear later or to become ingrained.







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