Dang!!! I was impassioned to write my blog for this week! I finished it early and submitted it to my team of advisers. True—it was edgy, but I felt that what I had to say was important. But—noooooo! My trusted “review board” gave me the thumbs down, telling me that my rather polarizing message was too narrow and would not serve the purpose I had intended.

I am driven to help people make a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them. And I don’t like when people live as victims, telling themselves that they can’t make a difference in their own lives or the world in general. Worse yet, I hate when the world forces them into submission. Unfortunately, my original message was “forced into submission” by people I love and trust and who are looking out for me and our company. Rationally, I understand their recommendation…emotionally, it is frustrating and disappointing.  

Sadly, this is the world we are living in—where people bite their tongues because they fear the swift and possibly violent retribution from the social-media mob. It started with kids being cyber-bullied, but now anyone, any age, anywhere can be bullied when they offer perspective that is outside the box in our “politically correct” age. To put it politely, I find it incredibly frustrating—and frightening—in many ways.

But for tonight, there is another lesson I can learn—how to deal with disappointment…and doing it without having a temper tantrum.

I truly was upset and pretty darn angry on many levels about my team’s reaction to my blog.  As I said above, I wasn’t angry at them… just at the situation. But I know that anger will only harm me physically and mentally.  So, my first step was to take a deep breath and let maturity prevail. I know that I need to listen to and trust my team’s advice…and accept the wisdom that they were sharing. Check. Done. Note: I make it sound like this part is easy, but it is not. I have spent many years learning, understanding and practicing how to reframe frustrating situations in order to move past them. After a lot of practice, I’ve gotten really good at that part, but my body actually takes a little longer to calm down. I remained physically agitated for quite a while. My adrenaline kicked into gear, and my body buzzed. 

Does this ever happen to you? I’ll bet it does. Sadly, anger management is a lesson that many of us need to learn. We can talk big picture another day. Tonight, I’m simply going to focus on distraction, because it’s vitally important for the sake of your health, your sanity and your relationships that you learn how to manage frustration and disappointment constructively. Disappointment is always going to happen—the key is how you handle it.

Our bodies really are very simple—they want to feel good. So, just like when you used distraction to get a young child to stop banging a toy on the floor, distraction is a critical tool in regaining physical and emotional equilibrium. By shifting our focus from the angst-creating stimulus to something more satisfying or soothing, our bodies actually turn toward the light, and, when given the opportunity, they are happy to generate hormones that calm us instead of keeping us bathed in the sometimes self-destructive stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Here’s some of what I do—none of which are very surprising—but they all work…

  1. Walk the dog…or just go for a walk. It was lucky for me that I finished my phone call with one of my advisers while I was at the dog park because the variety of distractions there helped calm the rush of emotion. A beautiful park is always soothing, but so, too, was looking at the assorted dogs, monitoring my own dog and making sure that he stayed close (since he is off the leash at the park) and questions from other dog owners. 
  2. Call someone—preferably someone who makes you laugh or feel good. No heavy conversations. Just someone who makes you smile and feel loved.
  3. Listen to music—my favorite distractor. There are so many ways to use music to distract. Simple soothing music calms, while your favorite college party song brings you back to those great memories from long ago. If you play an instrument, take a few minutes to play and let your focus shift to the mind-body-spirit activity of music-making.
  4. Do something creative. If you’re an artist, take some time to create something. I’m no artist, but I find coloring can be very soothing. My daughter and I used to draw abstract designs and simply color in the shapes together. For a while, adult coloring books and mandalas were all the rage—with good reason.
  5. Exercise. This is always the perfect way to release excess energy, though it will require some intensity to refocus your mind on something other than what is causing your frustration.
  6. Eat ice cream. This may surprise you, coming from me, since medicating with comfort foods is really not healthy. But I will admit to having a spoonful or two of the locally made Ferris Acres chocolate ice cream with chocolate fudge swirls and chocolate chunks. I don’t need a lot, and it sure hit the spot today.

I owe extra thanks to my daughter, who knew I was agitated and helped distract me. We cooked dinner, and then she brought out the box of Table Topics conversation starters. We actually were in search of new topic ideas for my replacement blog, but in the end, we simply had a great conversation about everything from, “Would you rather be respected by your parents or your children?” (answer: my children) to “What day of your life would you like to relive” (my wedding day) and “What are the three most important traits you want in your friends?” (integrity, sense of humor, intellectual curiosity).

Share with me your experiences with frustration and how you drive yourself to distraction—I’m always looking for new ideas.

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.