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I Want It, and I Want It Now!
by Alina Boie, M.S.

Self ControlWe live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately.

If you ever had trouble finishing something, postponing a project that was already overdue, then you might suffer from what Albert Ellis jokingly called “can’t-stand-it-itis”. We all have it! Every time we avoid short-term frustrations such as cleaning a closet, writing a paper, etc., we are actually feeding our frustration intolerance. This may lead to severe self-defeating habits, such as procrastination, low productivity, tense relationships and self-criticism. The higher our frustration intolerance, the more we tend to dread and avoid things that are just part of our daily life. This makes our problems even bigger which, in turn, makes us even more tempted to avoid them. Then we fall prey to our own vicious cycle. What can we do?

The good news is that frustration tolerance is an ability that you can develop, if you have the patience to work on it. First, identify your own beliefs and thoughts that fuel your frustration intolerance. The most common ones are: “I must not be frustrated”; “My life should be easy”; “Things should always work properly”; “I must be comfortable at all times”; “I can’t stand to do things that are boring or unpleasant.” When you catch yourself very frustrated at something or someone, try to catch the thought and then remember that there are only very few things in life that you truly CANNOT stand: lacking oxygen, water, food and sleep. Ok, and maybe uncomfortable shoes!:)

Life is more often than not annoying and frustrating, but nonetheless survivable and changeable. If you cannot change some things life throws at you, you can still choose how to respond in a way that will leave you merely annoyed, rather than enraged. REBT teaches you that we are the ones responsible for our own happiness, and this is a matter of choice, rather than luck.

Source: Albert Ellis Institute

To learn more about Low Frustration Tolerance, how it affects addiction recovery, and ways to gain High Frustration Tolerance, visit SMART Recovery Tools and Articles.