The differences between frustration and negativity

by April Cummins

During many of my different business ventures, I would go through various emotions. Between juggling my personal and professional life, negativity or anger would creep in from one side of my life and affect the other. But, it’s important to remember that everyone gets frustrated from time to time. You can’t let it consume you. For instance, I lost my wallet the other day. At that moment, I could have kept listening to my negative and self-detrimental thoughts that started scolding me about how I should have “known better” and that I need to stop putting it down in random places all the time. I could have, but I didn’t. Instead, I took a deep breath, brought myself back to the present and began retracing my steps from the day before. Eventually, I found it in my gym bag and was able to laugh off the incident as a random moment of carelessness. In moments such as these, there seems to reside a little confusion for some people. It can be challenging to distinguish the differences between frustration and negativity. In this blog, I will discuss the two emotions and what they mean.

What is frustration?

Frustration is natural and is created from attempting to perform or acquire something and running into problems. It’s what one feels upon arriving at a clothing store to buy a specific shirt you saw online, only to drive all that way and find out your size is out of stock. Frustration is when a friend acts in a disrespectful way that hurts you. You may grunt, sigh, or even mutter to show that feeling of frustration, which signals a mild discomfort to the rest of the world.

Online social media posts will tell you it’s possible to be cheerful always, that happiness is a choice, but in moments of deep frustration, that is the last thing you are thinking. For example, when I lost my wallet, there was no way a single positive thought could have come to mind. I was angry at myself, confused, and in a state of panic over realizing that I may need to get all new debit cards, IDs, etc. On the contrary, we need to remember that frustration is natural, and it’s ok to feel it. It’s an organic, honest emotion.

What is negativity?

Negativity, on the other hand, is a continuation of frustration. It is often longstanding and can begin to reflect on others. Negativity is taking your frustrations out on people. When you get wrapped up in a bevy of emotions, it can be challenging to control how you project onto others. Negativity can also be purposeful and used to create more issues by acting rude and passive-aggressive. 

A negative mindset can create irrational behaviour. For instance, remember the hypothetical story about going to a clothing store only to find out they are out of stock of your size in that shirt? A negative response would be to yell at a stock associate or salesman, blaming them for my bad luck. How we react in those moments of intense emotion will determine whether we become merely frustrated or increasingly negative and hostile. 

We shouldn’t strive to expose or look down upon those who are being negative. A combative response toward a negative person isn’t the right way to confront someone going through these types of emotions. I believe negativity is a poor use of time, as it only worsens and creates more frustration in the person feeling it and those around. 

What are the differences between frustration and negativity?

Frustration, on the other hand, is not a waste of time and should be expressed because it’s an all-natural, 100% authentic emotion. It can become a detriment when one attempts to suppress frustration out of fear of being perceived negatively; it’s a sacrifice of self-expression. Do not feel guilty or embarrassed by demonstrating your frustration. 

There is one last distinction to make regarding frustration, specifically when it seems to occur very frequently. Suppose you find yourself feeling frustrated multiple times throughout an extended period. It may be wise to talk to someone professionally to find out the root cause of these emotions. Sometimes, it takes a while to discover these emotional depths within ourselves. As we experience new things in our lives, we grow, adapt and can get lost in expressing and suppressing emotions. But remember, those moments of frustration or high emotion reveal a lot about ourselves. In those moments of frustration, we are being tested to respond with either empathy/understanding or negativity. Do you laugh it off or let the frustration consume you and affect yourself and those around you? In those moments of frustration, what will you choose?

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