Work Through Frustration in Relationships
Hey all. This week I was working with an individual, she’s in her mid-thirties and struggling with depression. She is a very successful individual, has done well in her career as well as in relationships. When she came in, she was reporting really bad depression. The client was tearful and talking about how much she hates herself and how frustrating life is. to compound matters, she had been laid off from a couple job recently, and was having problems in her relationship with a significant other.
I’m bringing it up because she came in saying she’s struggling with depression and she hates herself. This next part is not true across the board. In psychology, there are some theoretical orientations that suggest that depression is anger turned inward. Rather than being able to manage it well, I turn it inward. I just end up hating myself. I become more and more depressed and withdrawn.
The sad part about this was not just the way it was impacting her daily life. But 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 more about 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 de-stigmatize mental illness. Mental illness, when you look at emotional health, is no different than when you compare 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, and was very frustrated. Frustration is the key thing. So much of our time is spent avoiding frustration. However, it is a part of every day of our lives. 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, and I want to get rid of that feeling. People cope with that in a lot of different ways.
The Problem with Avoiding Frustration
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 a theme of frustration in relationships But now she was able to start looking at it with a little more clarity. Okay, if I’m frustrated with something in my relationship, what are the qualities that are missing? Ultimately, what can I do to move towards those healthy qualities?
Now, it may be leaving that specific individual. That’s not for me to say. But she could move from being hopeless and helpless into problem-solving mode. The shift was learning more about her anger. Frustration definitely existed and she had reasons to be angry. But she was angry because her needs were not being met in this relationship. It’s frustrating when my needs aren’t being met, they seem just out of reach, and I just want to be happy. She was able to learn to work toward problem-solving and finding a solution. As opposed to beating herself up over the way things are.
Again, I’m not going to go into a lot more detail. It’s a lot more complex than I’m going to share in this short video. But, what I’m trying to share with you is, don’t be afraid of frustration. You are going to get frustrated regularly. The key is to not avoid it. Learn to look at 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. 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? How can I move forward in my ability to resolve whatever situation it is? The tendency is to avoid pain. That’s just the brains natural response to things. But what I want to do before I’m avoiding the pain is finding out why I’m experiencing it. that way I can start to make changes.
Do I Need Intensive Treatment?
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. Everyone does not need treatment. At Nsight, we treat people where things have become 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 and I’m starting to go backwards instead of forwards. They may come here. Now they have an opportunity to work on this stuff every day. It becomes much more focused. The goal is building a foundation so they can head back to outpatient treatment and remain engaged in life.
Again, I’m going to be the first one to say treatment doesn’t need to last forever. Some people think, oh, if I go into therapy I’m going to be in therapy forever. It’s not going to be productive. That’s not how it works. Therapy can be very time limited and very goal-focused.
It could be objective where you say, hey, this is the stuff I want to talk about. This is the stuff I want to work on. I want to start to notice what it is I’m feeling so that I’ll understand and not dismiss it. I’m going to work towards how it is that I want to feel, and and learn some steps I can take to move myself in that direction.
It’s no different than someone struggling with an injury or physical illness, or they want to improve their health and fitness. 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 all.
Again, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach, California. I’m here to teach you everything that they don’t teach in Psych 100. I hope that you all look at emotional difficulties as things that I’m going to overcome. 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, 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).