Saturday, June 4, 2011

Achievement, Frustration and Depression



We are all, more or less, geared to achieve. This is a function of our deepest motivational drives within. It is no surprise, then, to find that when we don’t achieve as we expect, frustration quickly ensues. And if this frustration is not attended to, then a grief process — involving anger and/or eventually depression — may also result.


There are so many instances in our day of people succumbing to bouts of burnout-induced depression. If we live long enough with the sense of a lack of achievement, learned helplessness has to be the logical end point.


Limitations of the Conscious Mind


Part of our daily frustration involves dealing with limitations of the conscious mind.


When there are so many thought-balls being juggled in the air at the same time — and we’ve adapted to expect a high level of performance, to succeed, at all times — we’re asking for trouble:


MAXIMAL INPUT + HIGH EXPECTATION = INCREASED PRESSURE


The above scenario is typical of how we often push ourselves too hard and too far. Consider the mind having only seven conscious thinking compartments with which to contain pieces of information — out of which organised thoughts are carried forth.


Consider also that two or three pieces of information may already reside there, leaving even less room for momentary thinking.


Eternal Limitations of Time


Add to this, again, the most restrictive influence over us all: time. It’s easy to see how a lack of time brings distress:


INCREASED PRESSURE + LIMITED TIME = DISTRESS


With many things on our minds — which in real terms is just a few — and time already against us, we’ll soon begin to feel not achievement, but the distress of frustration.


If we get into a cycle of sensed frustration — repetitively, I mean — anger is the likely initial result, which without recourse to improvement is most likely to lead to depressed feelings because of the nature of our perceptions — sadness because of a lack of achievement.


The Importance of Expectations in Achievement


If we look at this problem logically, we know we can neither control the capacity of our conscious minds, nor can we drum up more time.


We have to look instead at the expectations we place on ourselves and, just as importantly, the expectations others have of us. We need to be more realistic.


We can achieve, but only when we know what is within our capacities.


When we accept our capacities, and we’re disciplined enough to align our expectations to these capabilities, we’ll quickly guard against the frustrations that stem from our own drivenness.


We’ll get better at saying no to ourselves and saying no to others.


We’ll gain more control over our lives, because we determine beforehand what we can achieve, and this is enough for us. The outcome will be more peace and contentment, and less risk for anger and depression.


God never wills us into frustration. Only our wills take us there.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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