“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
When it rains it pours, it seems frustrating things come in giant sticky clumps. If one thing doesn’t work, 50 other things are not going to work throughout the day, and when you are trying to calm yourself down from the previous thing, another thing just pops into your lap like a little annoying chihuahua. I guess Kurt is right, you can only really laugh at life, because if I am not laughing, it is something I do not want to face. It is a slippery slope to go down when you are frustrated, feeling the anger bubble in my body, distorting my thoughts and emotions. Feeling like a viper ready to strike at anything, just to get the negative emotion out of my system. Coping mechanisms seem not to work when the heat is on. So what does one do?
It all comes down to preliminary work, getting your mind and body ready for when the frustration comes. When I was a paramedic, I had a wonderful teacher who was a retired firefighter. He taught us a technique that would help us get through the tough times of the job, like when it is 3a.m and you have responded to a guy with a drug overdose, there he is, on the ground, turning blue, not breathing and he has no heart beat. You can study everyday in the books all you want, but that doesn’t mean the information is going to come to you. How do you make it so your mind is not blank in such moments? He said, when you study, say out loud what you are going to do, make it habit, and when it is 3 in the morning and you are looking at the guy who overdosed, you will just say what you have to do without thought. I am learning to apply this to the everyday world, for when crap does hit the fan, you don’t have to think about it, you just automatically know what to do. The problem with anger and frustration, is that when peoples autonomic nervous system is activated, we become stupid. The brain is not designed to think rationally in such moments, it is designed to either fly or fight. It is not until after you are out of the car, looking at the guy you yelled at on the road, and seeing him hulking over you, that you realized you should have just let him be. All the blood is going to our amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for reflex emotion, and not to the frontal association area, the part of the brain that is responsible for rational thought.
So it does not matter how well studied you are at coping mechanisms, what is important is that you practice preliminary measures, kinesthetically, so that when things go bad, you have automatic reaction to go to relaxation, not pure anger.
If you want tips on how to do this, please contact me! I would love to share with you everything I know.