The Emotional Intelligence of Frustration: Feeling Judgmental?

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Frustration: Feeling Judgmental?

The feeling of frustration arises when you are dealing with something that is taking much longer than you expected. The purpose of frustration is to help you to persist. The uncomfortable energy/irritation you feel when you are frustrated is intended to help motivate you to stay with the project/situation until it’s completed or until you decide that it’s not going to be resolved how you had hoped. In other words, it may be time to come up with Plan B. If you don’t use the feeling of frustration to help you persist in a situation and you block, repress or ignore your feelings, you will usually become judgmental of yourself or others.

Think about the situations you are currently feeling frustrated about. If you are judging others or yourself instead of persisting to reach a resolution, you know you are blocking or ignoring your feelings (a.k.a. your emotional intelligence).

What better example of feeling frustrated than dealing with Christmas tree lights? My goal yesterday was to set up and decorate the tree. I had a concert to attend in the afternoon at 2pm. I planned on starting the tree at 10am which would have given me plenty of time to decorate the tree, shower and get to the auditorium. As soon as I opened up the box of lights from last year, I remembered that one of the five strands was pretty much shot. The feeling of frustration arose right away because I meant to replace that set last year at the end of the season. “Why didn’t I do that?” (The self-judgment was setting in.)

Rather than run to the store, I decided that four sets would suffice, and I could use the fifth set for spare parts. After testing the remaining sets of lights, only one strand was working properly. Two of the strands had half of the lights out. A fuse maybe? To make a long, irritating story very short, the entire morning was spent repairing the lights. By the time I had to get ready for the concert, only three sets were working. You can imagine the lack of joy for the holiday season that I was feeling at this point, but I had persisted.

When I got back to the project later that evening, I decided I’d put the three sets of lights on the top three-fourths of the tree and then buy another set at the hardware store in the morning. (I needed to have some sense of accomplishment for all the time spent on those damn lights!) I put the three sets on, plugged them in, and enjoyed the soft glow of the multi-colored lights twinkling in the now dark living room. I sighed deeply and felt the feeling of frustration fade away and turn into an inner sense of calm. I went to the kitchen to make some tea. When I returned to the living room, I sat in the chair and gazed at the tree, reveling in the payoff of my tenacity. My eyes were drawn to the top quarter of the tree which was now dark. Half of the first strand of lights went out again. I sipped my tea and decided it’s time for Plan B… all new lights for the tree this year. My calmness returned. Problem solved.

Next week, we will learn about the feeling of Disappointment which is a normal and natural feeling, but how do we deal with it? Stay tuned…

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC. We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing personal satisfaction in their lives. For more information, please go to

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About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.