top of page

Tolerating Frustration

Frustration is an emotion we experience when we are faced with obstacles that get in the way of us achieving our goals.

The way in which we respond to this frustration is a measure of our frustration tolerance, and just like most things in the psychological context, frustration tolerance lies on a spectrum. Those who successfully manage setbacks and respond adaptively have a high frustration tolerance; whereas those who get frustrated at minor inconveniences have a low frustration tolerance.

Those with a high frustration tolerance are more easily able to achieve their goals, as they are more able to adapt to changing situations and environments to be able to persevere. Those with a low frustration tolerance are more likely to give up when things become difficult, or not even start on a goal if they perceive the task as being too difficult. From an interpersonal point of view, those with a low frustration tolerance are more likely to lash out; have little patience for the "little things"; and become irritated at everyday inconveniences.

So what are some of the signs of a low frustration tolerance? Perhaps surprisingly, prolonged procrastination is at the top of the list, due to an avoidance of frustration associated with completing an undesirable or or tough task. Pursuing instant gratification can also be a sign, along with exaggerating the intensity of temporary distress (i.e. over-reacting to having to wait at a restaurant). Those with a low frustration might also have an internal monologue with thoughts "I can't stand this" and "this always happens to me"; and avoid tasks they perceive as being too difficult.

If you feel like you fit the mould of someone with a low frustration tolerance, you may believe that you were just born with a short fuse, however it does not need to be a permanent state of being. There are strategies that can be implemented to develop your frustration tolerance, which could ultimately help you to become more than who you are.

If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to and we will answer any questions you may have.


bottom of page