Low Frustration Tolerance Breeds Anger

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Here is a recipe from the "Book of Stewing."  The meat for the recipe is, "I must be accepted and appreciated by everyone for everything I do."  Mix it with the batter of, "You must always support me and put me above everyone and everything else.  Spoil me without expecting anything from me in return."  Sprinkle it with a seasoning of, "All circumstances must be exactly the way I want them and if they are not, my life is terrible, you're terrible, and this place is terrible."  These three ingredients, when mixed, will automatically turn on the "pressure cooker."  Stew and seethe it all day long.  Note that stewing and seething will be often accompanied by "internal fire-works" that will heat the produce to a "raging" temperature :  A kitchen where this recipe is cooked drives everyone away except the Chef.  Later, the heat gets unbearable even for the Chef.    

The name of this recipe is "Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT)."  People who use this recipe as their staple diet stay mad with themselves, others, and the world:  Why?  Because, no one can always be accepted or appreciated.  No one can always agree with us or approve everything we do .  Circumstances don't always favor us. Events do turn out to be opposite of what we anticipate, at one time or the another.  I don't know if it's the same case with you, but in my case, the Universe always forgets to consult me about my preferences.  

We don't have to like everything that happens to us, but we can accept it.  Looking at the big picture helps us to accept a lot of things that are difficult to swallow or hard to digest.  We don't achieve big successes unless we fail a few times, muscles can't be strengthened if we do not exercise them against resistance, and we don't heal without experiencing the pain.  "To heal it, you have to feel it."

Quick and frequent anger often results from LFT.  A person with LFT doesn't tolerate anything blocking the path of his or her desire; thus the thought, "I should(or must) get what I want."  If that doesn't happen, LFT person can't stand himself or herself.  Such an inflexible demand leads to another equally inflexible and irrational one, "You should(or must) give me what I want."   If people don't, LFT person can't stand them.   When the path of LFT person meets even a little resistance, the fuse goes off immediately and automatically. Understanding the big picture raises our frustration tolerance.      

LFT people justify their angry outbursts.  Their misconceptions about the function of anger are as follows:  

1.  "I have every right to be angry."  Check your assumption very carefully.  What will happen if everyone decides to exercise their "right" at the same time?  Can you imagine the amount of dirt that will fly in the sky from all the erupting volcanoes all at the same time?

2.  "It's good to take it off my chest.  I shouldn't hold it in"  Careful!  If your anger gets out of control, you might end up feeling worse, upset the person who bore the brunt of your anger, and add more "knots" and "tangles" to the problem.

3.  "I should let them know exactly how I feel."  Okay, but how do you let them know?  Without any tact or diplomacy, just plain let them have it?  If others sense you are hostile to them, they try to protect themselves and tune you out.  Overcoming their hurt and nursing their wounds may occupy them totally.  If you express your feelings by hurling insults and profanities at other people, they don't want to know or care how you feel.   Remember, when people know you care about them, they care about knowing how you feel .  When angry, and acting as if you don't care, the only thing they learn about you is that you are destructive and don't care about the person you are hurting .

4.  "If I don't scream and yell, I won't be heard.  Loud doesn't get heard here, so I will speak louder"  The fact is that people begin to stop listening once the other person yells, snarls, or tries to win by the lung power.  Instead of listening, he or she may start  overshouting and retaliating.  .  

5.    "You made me angry and now you have to pay for it.  I have to punish you."  Punishment and revenge are parts of destructive anger.  They don't have a place in constructive anger.  Punishment and revenge create a negative chain effect of more pain, more anger, more punishment and revenge.  Whatever goes around, comes around.  If one sows belladonna(a poisonous plant), at the next harvest one reaps nothing else but belladonna.  

To maintain satisfactory relationships at home and work, raise your frustration tolerance.  LFT can take the joy out of any relationship, no matter how deep and forgiving that relationship is.  Anger is not just about hurting and destroying, it can be about creating.  Create a change in the conditions that  cause anger.  Change yourself.  Use the energy that anger creates for a positive change rather than "attacking" the  other person.  Where there is "rage," let there be "annoyance."   Annoyance, you can make use of.  Rage, you can only regret.      .  


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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