Intense Frustration Starts the Day

A couple weeks ago, I awoke early to finish a blog post before heading into work. Motivation turned to frustration when I discovered I’d lost hours of work from the previous day that I somehow failed to save. I came down hard on myself. How could I have been so stupid? I KNOW to save my work as I go, what had gone wrong? WHY was I so careless?? And so on.

It felt overwhelming to recapture what I’d lost right then — I wasn’t in a good head space. What I wanted was escape (or at least postponement) from facing my uncomfortable predicament. The June morning was lovely and I didn’t want to let negativity ruin it. I abandoned my computer and scrambled to get ready to bike ride the long way into work (31 miles). Clarity often comes on long rides, and I hoped the clear, cool, early morning air would do the job.

What transpired on the ride surpassed my hopes. It was one of those rides where my mind opened up as wide as the country backroads I was riding.

The Transformational Ride

Some of my best thoughts come on the bike… Photo Courtesy of

As soon as I got on the bike, I asked myself, How can I turn this around into something positive? The phrase “Trade Judgment for Curiosity”, a common theme in my coach training, came immediately to mind. Instead of beating myself up, I adopted a curious mind. What was there to learn about what happened? What did my reaction and frustration tell me about myself? How could I have responded less harshly? What other options did I have besides reactivity? I realized things were much more in my control than I thought. Both during the event itself, which could have been alleviated by saving work as I went, slowing down and not rushing at the end of a writing session, and double checking that my work had saved before closing out. But equally important was the aftermath. I knew I had 100% of control over my reaction, that harsh words to myself were not helpful, and that kindness instead was called for. I let that sink in for a few miles as the wheels went steadily round and round.

Next, I got curious about curiosity itself. I wondered, What other not-so-positive mindstates could I trade for more positive ones? With that question I was off, mulling over areas of my life where I feel stuck or get off track or end up in a spiral of negativity — and reflecting on what I really want instead. I visualized a Trading Post with options of various emotions or feeling states that I could trade for others that might be more uplifting. The purpose wasn’t to abandon or ignore painful states of being, merely to consider that it’s possible to consciously choose a less stressful state in most instances. Stating my intentions would create an opportunity to try on different ways of being, see how that felt, knowing I could always go back to my original mindset.

Here’s what I came up with for my Trading Post. I hope some of the items on my list resonate with you. As you read, consider what you’d like to have on your Trading Post:

The Trades

  1. Trade Uncertainty for Possibility. 
  2. Trade Overwhelm for Opportunity.
  3. Trade Frustration for “What’s Funny About This?” 
  4. Trade Confusion for Whatever amount of Clarity is currently possible.
  5. Trade Hurt for Compassion (for Self and Others.)
  6. Trade Anguish for AcceptanceYeah this hurts, even sucks, but it’s how things are in this moment, and I can accept that, at least for right now.  
  7. Trade Worry for Trust (in Self and The Process.) 
  8. Trade Fear of the Unknown for Full Presence in the Moment.  
  9. Trade Sabotage for Self-care! 
  10. Trade Reactivity for Personal Responsibility. 

That’s a start, I thought. When I returned home that night,  I wrote them out and posted them on my lamp post — now my Trading Post.

Please share in the comments below: What resonates with you on this list? What else comes to mind for your Trading Post?

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