Work Through Frustration in Relationships
Hey guys. This week I was working with an individual, she’s in her mid-thirties and struggling with depression. Very successful individual, has done well in her career as well as in relationships and so forth, has strong family ties and everything. She comes in and complains of really bad depression, very tearful this time as she’s talking about how much she hates herself and how frustrating life is for her at this point. Been laid off from a couple job recently, and then problems within relationships with a significant other.
Anyways, why am I telling you this? I’m bringing it up because she comes in saying she’s struggling with depression and she hates herself. In psychology, and I’m not saying this is true across the board but a lot of the theoretical orientations some people belong that depression is anger turned inward. I’ve got anger towards things, and rather than being able to manage it really well, I turn it inward and I just end up hating myself. I become more and more depressed and withdrawn.
The sad part about this, is this was impacting her daily life, but really how she felt about herself. I’m going to tell you that I didn’t quite see it the same way she did. I’m very understanding of depression, but this was the benefit of therapy and I’m going to tell you that in a second. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. I’m the clinical director at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach, California. Basically I’m trying to teach you everything that they don’t tell you in Psych 101. I want to destigmatize mental illness. Mental illness, when you look at emotional health, is no different than physical illness with physical health. The goal is to help people become emotionally healthy. When mental illness comes in, no different than a cold, flu, or any other kind of injury to the body. We want to be able to overcome it, not talk poorly about it and tell people just to get over it. I want to get over it, I just don’t know how. This is kind of what we’re talking about.
So, in this case that I’m talking about, she struggled with depression, hating herself, very frustrated. Frustration is the key thing. So much of our time is spent avoiding frustration but it is a part of every day of our lives. If you think about it, frustration is when we have obstacles getting in the way of our goals, or what it is that we’re trying to obtain. It’s just outside of my reach, I’m frustrated, I want to get rid of that feeling. People cope with that in a lot of different ways. Now, here’s the problem. If you try to avoid frustration, it’s not going to alert you to why it is that you’re frustrated. In her case, the frustration was going to anger, anger towards herself, as if she should not have these problems or that somehow she can resolve them… but not working towards resolution, she just became more depressed and withdrawn.
As we were talking about it, she was able to start to see in relationships, what she was going through was very frustrating. But now she was able to start looking at it, okay, if I’m frustrated with something and the happy healthy relationship that I’m looking for, what are the qualities that are missing and what can I do to move towards them? Now, it may be leaving that specific individual. That’s not up for me to say. But it was now where she would move from being kind of hopeless and helpless into problem-solving mode. The shift became rather than being anger… So frustration definitely existed and she had reasons to be angry, but angry because her needs were not being met in this relationship. It’s frustrated when my needs aren’t being met. They’re just out of reach, I just want to be happy.
So the way we were able to work together was being able to move toward her problem-solving and finding a solution instead of beating herself up over the way things are. Again, I’m not going to go into a ton more detail because it’s a lot more complex than I’m going to share in this short video, but what I’m trying to tell you guys is, don’t be afraid of frustration. Okay? Frustration, you’re going to hit every single day. The key is not to avoid it but to look at more so specifically why am I feeling this way and what can I do about it? It’s not only frustration. You’ve heard me say this in other videos, I’ll continue to talk about this more in other videos, but if I’m sad, if I’m angry… any emotion I’m having, it could be a pleasurable one… I want to look at why. What is it that my feelings or my emotions are trying to let me know, and how can I move forward in my ability to resolve whatever situation it is? The tendency is, I want to avoid pain. That’s just the natural brain’s response to things, but what I want to do before I’m avoiding the pain is finding out why I’m experiencing it, so I can start to make changes.
You know, people ask me, do I need to have significant treatment in order to resolve this stuff? The answer is no. Not everybody needs to be in therapy. Not everybody needs treatment. At Nsight, we treat people where it’s gotten so debilitating that individual therapy is not enough. Where I go to talk to a therapist, I’m trying to work through some of this stuff, it’s not making sense to me, it’s impairing my daily functioning, I’m starting to go backwards instead of forwards. They may come here, where now they have an opportunity to work on this stuff through every day. It becomes much more focused and they can build a foundation, head back to outpatient treatment.
Again, I’m going to be the first one to say treatment doesn’t need to last forever. People think sometimes like, oh, if I got into therapy I’m going to be in therapy forever and it’s not going to be productive. That’s not how it works. Therapy can be very time limited and it can be very goal-focused. It could be objective where you say, hey, this is the stuff I want to talk about and this is the stuff I want to work on, start to notice what it is I’m feeling, I’ll understand that and not dismiss it. I’m going to work towards how it is that I want to feel, and some of the actions I can take to move myself in that direction. No different than someone struggling with an injury or physical illness, or they want to improve their health and fitness, let’s say. So they come up with a gym routine, this is what my goals are going to be, these are the steps I’m going to take. I’m going to do this on a daily basis, even though I get tired, even though I get sore I continue to move forward.
I hope that makes some sense for you guys. Again, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach, California. Again, here to teach you everything that they don’t in Psych 100, and hope that you guys look at emotional difficulties as things that I’m going to overcome. It’s really emotions are trying to alert me to stuff that’s going into my environment. I need to keep working towards the things that make me feel happy, and I need to learn how to resolve the things that don’t. Until I see you again, you guys keep on growing.
Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Grosso is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience assisting individuals and families struggling with addiction, depression and trauma. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from San Diego State University before enrolling in Chapman University where he acquired a Master of Arts degree in Psychology. Dr. Grosso continued his education and received a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialty in treating Chemical Dependency. He holds a professional membership with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).