a little bird sitting on a branch

the purpose of frustration

introduction: this is a post in a series exploring the purpose of different emotions. the movie inside out laid out the idea, along wit scientific backing, that all emotions have a purpose. I take it a step further by saying that until the purpose of the emotion is fulfilled, the emotion of the situation will continue to exhort power. For example, if someone treats you unfairly, you are likely to feel angry. Until the purpose of the anger, fairness, is fulfilled, there will be little chance for you to completely move beyond the anger you experienced.

I was trying to work on my book the other day. the key word was trying. try as i may, i could not motivate myself to form a single word for my book. Forming words towards other endeavors, such as blog post and replies flowed easily, but words for the book remained damned. i reached a point of great frustration; why could i string words together for everything but my book?

i did and Internet search for, “purpose of frustration”. in the results, I found a reference the purposive component of frustration. it had an extensive list of purposes of frustration. here is the list:

inform us that something about our environment has changed and that we should test the rules that our reward expectations were based upon
to provide feedback that our self-efficacy estimation is poor
to provide feedback that the task is more difficult than we thought
to provide feedback that our fundamental assumptions underpinning our expectation estimations are flawed
to provide feedback that our goal is too difficult, too easy or just right
to provide feedback that our goal is too vague, and that it needs to be better defined
to provide feedback that our goal is worthwhile (a goal with no frustrations at all would arguably be of little value)
To provide motivational feedback
to provide feedback that our goals are too ambitious, biting off more than you can chew 1



a couple of potentials came to mind. I surely must be crazy to think i could ever write a book. i’ve never written one before, what makes me think i could do one now? i’m truly over my head. maybe this task is too difficult.

hold on, hold on. time out, time out. who has already produced 16 chapters in rough draft, probably about 1/2 the book? me. i’ve prove myself capable so far; I haven’t lost “it”. additionally, people who have seen what i have written generally like it and find it helpful. there has to be another purpose for my frustration.

next, i remembered rome wasn’t build in a day. I realized every time i sat down to work on my book, i wanted to write my book, not a chapter, a section, a paragraph, a sentence or a word. Since I’ve never wrote a book before, the thought of writing a book became overwhelming and impossible. what if i could break my intermediate goal into something more attainable? I’ve written thousands, if not millions of sentences in my life, most of the time without great fear and trepidation. with that in mind, i’ve changed my new task from writing a book to writing the next sentence for my book. while writing a book may prove daunting, writing a sentence turns out to be a much more attainable, less overwhelming goal.

imageTo recap,
emotion: frustration
reason: not making any progress on my book
purpose of the emotion: realizing i’ve bitten off more than I can chew.
how I fulfilled the purpose: realized i couldn’t write a book in one sitting. i changed my goal from writing my book to writing one sentence at a time.
result: mostly over the frustration and progressing on my book, again.

1you won’t find this referred to in the linked article. it’s one of my own.

15 thoughts on “the purpose of frustration

  1. Deanne

    The tree bark photo caught my attention… I’ve a few photos like that that I took last week but I’ve not figure how I want to incorporate them as yet… It has the same stuff coming from the side of the tree… I’m not sure what it’s called…

      1. bipolarsojourner Post author

        there’s a fungus among us! it is a picture of a fungus. in the same area as this picture, last year, Mary found a fungus that look like the shark in finding nemo.

        fungus is the general class of organism. fungus are really not plants since they don’t have chlorophyll. mushrooms are considered a fungus. there are some fungus in the pacific northwest the stretch for 100s of thousands of acres. all the sample are genetically the same, so it is considered the same organisms.

        one last bit. if you ever get lost in a forest in the northern hemisphere, one way to tell north is fungus will only grow on the northern side of the tree. the fungus needs the shady side of the tree to protect itself.

        1. Deanne

          Thanks for sharing… Great and useful info. I can always count on you for your generosity in sharing knowledge. I learn something new today… Thank you ❤

          1. Deanne

            The word fungus seem kinda harsh… It’s disturbing to me… I guess it’s the imagery when I hear the word fungus… I’ll think about it… It does sound awesome… You are right about the great rhyme and meter

    1. bipolarsojourner Post author

      thanks for being a friend, and for caring and understanding. it felt good to look for, find and work through the purpose of my emotion. it made it so much easier to get past the frustration.

  2. Anxious Mom

    There are so many things in life that this makes perfect sense for, breaking things down instead of having the mindset that it has to be done all at once. Love this post.

  3. the-reluctant-parent

    great insight and I’m usually the same way, trying to do or learn too much too quickly and it gets overwhelming.

    I’ll try to keep some of this in mind for some new tasks that I’m going to start trying to learn about.

    Thanks for posting this entry.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s