Understanding Frustration!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 10, Number 2

February is a transitional month situated between the harshness of winter and the coming of spring. As we watch and listen to reports of the brutal winter that most of our country has been dealing with, we are reminded of how powerless we are against the forces of Nature. Here in South Florida, we enjoy warm weather and in most ways, a much easier lifestyle than in the rest of the country. Soon spring will be here with rebirth, rejuvenation, and regrowth. Let’s remember to appreciate our lives while having compassion for those experiencing mountains of snow.

This month’s E-letter focuses on Understanding Frustration. Our email of the month is about Stuff You Didn’t Know, You Didn’t Know. Our Ask the Doc question is about news overload. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We thank you for the many comments we have received through the years to our E-Letters.

Practice News

Women’s Group. A weekly support group for women has begun. Run by Dr. Terry Newell, the emphasis is upon women supporting women. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Dr. Newell or Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Depression groups. An ongoing weekly depression therapy group meets regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Research Study. If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in conducting research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Results show continued weight loss for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on frustration and understanding what causes it, how we react, and how we can deal with it. Frustration is a very common response to our not getting what we want or expect. Simply, it is an obstruction to our reaching our goals. When we set expectations and they go unreached, we become frustrated in response. For example, the appliance repair man said he would be there in an hour yet it took 3 hours. Frustration comes from expecting it should have been an hour. In response, you feel powerless, as there is nothing you can do but wait, and angry. Frustrated thinking usually consists of statements that include the words “should”, “must”, and “ought”. Common emotions that accompany frustration include anger, anxiety, and disappointment.

Frustration can come from both internal and external sources. Internal frustration comes from within, from one’s own expectations such as not achieving one’s personal goals or succeeding at challenges. An example of this would be doing poorly on a test that you expected to do well on as you studied many hours for it. External frustration comes from events outside yourself. Getting stuck in traffic, waiting on a line to purchase tickets, or being put on hold waiting for a person to answer the phone are common examples. In fact, one of the greatest sources of frustration is the wasting of time having to wait for something or someone.

Frustration can also be positive or negative. It is positive when it is motivational in that it can cause a person to take action to resolve the conflict or blockage. In these situations, people think rationally and problem solve for alternate goals or solutions. They tend to look at the situation differently. They will change their perspective and see that the goal was really not that important. However, when frustration is negative, it can lead to anger, giving up, losing self- esteem, stress, and depression. Often when frustrated, people will get angry and become aggressive. They may yell at those they think are getting in their way and preventing them from getting what they want. Since angry people often act without thinking, aggressive behavior can occur against people or objects that frustrate them. If a machine doesn’t work, they may hit it or kick it. Teenagers are known to put holes in their walls when frustrated.

Another response to frustration is quitting. Just giving up on the goal allows apathy to enter so that in the future, the person won’t even try, often saying “I don’t care”.. Quitting a task because it is too hard or not rewarding will become a pattern of behavior when a person is frustrated. Success takes perseverance and overcoming frustration. Being a quitter leads to a loss of self- esteem and low expectations for oneself. It prevents the development of self-confidence as well as the abilities to deal with obstacles. People will eventually lose trust in themselves.

Continued frustration causes a high degree of stress which can take a toll on one’s body. In addition to hurt that can happen by hitting something, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, hypertension, and eating and sleeping problems can occur because of stress from frustration. Depression can also occur when people start to believe that life is full of constant frustration and they are powerless. They may withdraw becoming pessimistic and hopeless.

One of the best ways to handle frustration is to change your thinking to minimize the frustrating events. Consider if the event was really that important. Why is it so terrible if you have to wait? Expect that life has frustration and believe that you can handle it; do not engage in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, drinking, or using drugs. Reassess and see whether that situation can be solved by you or not. If you truly have to wait and there is nothing you can do, just accept it. Being stuck in stop-and-go traffic can be quite upsetting but as there is nothing to do, just accept it until you can get off the road. Learning to accept these types of situations will make you more content; not accepting them will leave you angry, impatient, and possibly depressed.

Being able to deal with frustration is a basic life skill. It is very important to develop it, especially early in life, so that you can control frustration rather than it controlling you. As mentioned above, cognitive restructuring or changing your perception of the situation can be quite powerful in reducing frustration. Deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness exercises can help you relax and calm down feelings of frustration and anger. Yoga can help to relax your muscles so that you are not tight while physical exercise can help work off frustration. Be careful not to resort to behaviors such as eating, drinking or drugging as they can become addictive and create additional problems. Professional help should be considered if frustration remains excessive and you feel you cannot control it by yourself. Remember you cannot eliminate frustration from your life but you can reduce it or turn it into motivation.
We offer the following information on Overcoming Frustration:

Our frustration is greater when we have much
and want more than when we have nothing and want some.
We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things
than when we seem to lack but one thing. — Eric Hoffer


  • Frustration is a very common emotional response when we can’t get what we want or when things don’t go the way we want them to; when we get blocked
  • The more important we perceive the blocked goal, the greater the frustration
  • Internal causes of frustration include not achieving personal goals, wants, and needs
  • External causes of frustration include being blocked by something outside the person like a traffic jam, having to wait on line, etc.
  • The ability to manage frustration is directly linked to being positive and happy
  • The most common responses to frustration are anger, giving up, a loss of self-confidence, and depression
  • Frustration can be positive when it motivates a person to achieve or change; frustration can be negative when it results in anger, irritability, stress, and depression
  • One of the greatest sources of frustration is the feeling of wasting time such as being stuck in traffic, waiting on line, being put on hold, etc.
  • Another great source of frustration is a sense of powerless when you think things need to change and you are unable to do anything about it
  • Frustration often leads directly to aggression as when a person gets angry, they may act out against the cause of their frustration, i.e. hitting the copier when it doesn’t work
  • Frustration can accumulate based on the preceding events; several frustrating situations, one after the other, can lead a person to aggressively act out
  • Frustration can be decreased by giving up a goal or quitting but it leads to a loss of self-confidence; by quitting, one doesn’t develop the confidence or trust in one’s own abilities
  • Prolonged frustration leads to stress and depression which not only can cause fatigue, anxiety, headaches, etc. but also pessimism and hopelessness
  • Emotional reactions of anger and anxiety inhibits one’s ability to decrease frustration and may become a bigger problem than the frustrating situation itself
  • Other reactions to frustration include alcohol and drug abuse, weight gain and eating problems, and addictive behaviors such as gambling, videogame playing, etc.
  • Since life is full of frustration, one can never truly eliminate it but one can develop skills and strategies to minimize it and not engage in self-destructive behaviors


  • Do not take frustration personally and accept that it is a way of life
  • Realize that you may not be able to change the frustrating situation but you can change how you react to it
  • Practice deep breathing, relaxation, and mindfulness exercises to calm down
  • Change your thinking and lower your expectations for the situation
  • Compromise on your goals or break them down into smaller or partial goals
  • Consider getting professional help if your level of frustration does not decrease, you engage in aggressive behaviors when frustrated, or your frustration affects your relationships and other areas of your life

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at drkimmel@kimmelpsychology.com

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067

Copyright © 2015; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

BB writes: I watch the news every day, listen to it while I am driving, and receive news feeds on my phone throughout the day. I have to know what is happening yet I am quite frustrated. It seems like there is more violence and little to be happy about. It is scary and I feel like there is nothing I can do. I am upset and constantly worried. My friends tell me to stop watching yet I can’t. What do you think I should do?

        Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: BB, I have heard the same or similar worries from many of my patients who feel powerless and sometimes, angry. So you are not alone. There are a couple of things for you to understand. First, the news today is little journalism and a lot of entertainment. Good news or events is seldom reported because they are deemed to not be newsworthy. Many people are attracted to knowing about bad events like onlookers at an accident. The news media needs to fill their time and will find those stories that attract viewers or listeners. Secondly, news from around the world that has little impact on your life is also reported contributing to the perception that the world is not a safe place. If there is a car crash in Paris, does it really affect you? But you hear about it. Third, the news is constant with repetition on every channel. Since the time slots need to be filled, details of the event are reported over and over and over again. Fourth, the news is presented in such a style that leaves you questioning. Although the facts are presented, you are often left with questions such as: Can that happen here? Why doesn’t someone do something about that? Etc. You often don’t have closure, so you worry. Fifth, news reporting is often tied in to promoting the station’s other shows. For example, you may find a segment about the parties after the Oscar awards on a news show. Is that really news? I guess for some people it is. Finally, news reporting often raises questions but provides you with few if any solutions. It would be better if they suggested what you could do rather than leave you hanging with anxiety and anger.
      So here is what you can do. My first recommendation would be to severely cut down how much news input you get. While it seems it is necessary for you to hear the news, limit how much time per day you receive the news. Secondly, consider the context and ask yourself whether the stories reported actually concern you. Perhaps, only the local or national events affect you. Third, realize the purpose and style of how news is reported. Fourth, become active in organizations that can directly affect the events in the news. Volunteer to work in a charitable organization or contact and meet with your Members of Congress. Get your news from true journalistic sources and they are out there. Finally, take care of yourself by reducing your emotions through exercise, eating well, meditating and deep breathing, and having your own interest or hobby.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Larry A. for the following email:

Stuff You Didn’t Know, You Didn’t Know!

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca Cola was originally green.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

The cost of raising a medium size dog to the age of eleven: $ 16,400

The average number of people airborne over the U.S. in any given hour: 61,000

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter… Tom Sawyer.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades – King David
Hearts – Charlemagne
Clubs – Alexander, the Great
Diamonds – Julius Caesar

If a statue of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn’t added until 5 years later.

Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter ‘A’?
A. One thousand

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common?
A. All were invented by women.

Q. What is the only food that doesn’t spoil?
A. Honey

Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?
A. Father’s Day

In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase… ’Goodnight , sleep tight’
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts… So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them ‘Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.’ . . .
It’s where we get the phrase ‘mind your P’s and Q’s’

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our E-Letter.

Till March…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

If you no longer wish to receive future e-Letter reminders, please send an email to drkimmel@kimmelpsychology.com requesting to be removed from this list.

If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this e-Letter to your contacts and friends.

Copyright © 2015 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.