Dealing With Frustration

Frustration is an emotional reaction resulting from being blocked from reaching a desired outcome. It shows itself as irritability, annoyance, and anger.

Dictionary Definition of Frustration: “the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.”

Episode Breakdown

09:30 Defining Frustration

Frustration occurs when results or goals do not fit the effort you apply toward them. This can come as internal or external goal blockages. Internal blockages come from personal deficiencies or competing goals. External blockages are conditions outside of oneself.

13:36 Causes of Frustrations for Developers

The most annoying frustration for developers are unknown errors or uninformative error messages. Another is unrealistic expectations on the development team.

“You just should all over yourself”

When something “should” perform a certain way but doesn’t the developer creates their own frustration based on expectations.

Uncooperative coworkers leads to frustration. Incompetence, laziness, or lack of communication builds up until developers are overwhelmed with frustration. Reading other developers code can also lead to large amounts of frustration. Interruptions are especially frustrating when focused on a problem and you are interrupted for mediocre reasons.

“Comments are either true or useful”

Bugs cause one of the biggest frustrations for developers. It is extremely tedious and it’s easy to get into a situation where you write code that is too complex for you to debug it. Frustration also occurs when unbuild features or differences of opinion are considered bugs by QA.

23:40 Unhealthy Responses to Frustration

“Hey Will, did you go home and hunt the white whale?”

Anger directly expressed toward the object of frustration by hitting or kicking the computer, threatening coworkers. Anger can also be displayed as displaced aggression. Often we will act without thinking.

“We often when we are angry act without thinking.”

Giving up can be good if goal is truly out of reach. However, apathy (not caring) leads a person to drop out of school, quit job, or move. This could also be starting projects and never finishing them.

“The trick is you’ve got to come back.”

Loss of Confidence is a side effect of giving up. It results from poor assessment of abilities related to goals.

Stress is the physical signs of frustration: fatigue, headaches, depression, GI troubles, HTN, etc. Whereas, depression is the emotional signs of frustration: poor mood, apathy, anhedonia.

Addictive behavior such as alcoholism, overeating, or even video games and television is the opposite of anhedonia. It is taking something pleasurable to the extreme.

32:40 Dealing with Frustration

“You need to know the difference between what you want to happen, what you expect to happen, and what actually happens.”

Set realistic goals for your expectations by looking at reality verses your expectations.

Your attitude toward the problem at hand effects how you approach life and people. Recognizing the situation for what it is. Saying even to yourself “I’m angry” or “I’m frustrated” can help. Seek advice or help for the situation.

“When you acknowledge the anger it becomes something you have not something you are.”

Stepping back from a frustrating situation gives perspective. Take a walk, get coffee, go to lunch. Do something you do understand or that isn’t frustrating

Venting to a friend or mentor can have a similar effect as rubber ducking when dealing with frustration. Talk to someone not in the situation and not related to it. Not for advice but an ear to listen.

“Well you should anyway to be a complete person.”

Have a non-tech hobby. Avoid your home computer after a frustrating day at work. Spend time with friends and family or on your own.

47:16 Outside of Your Comfort Zone

This comes from an answer on Quora by Ben Baert.

Frustrations while learning or working show that you have an area that you need to focus your learning. This is good for small frustrations in coding, larger ones toward the beginning of learning something new.

“There’s some stuff that just is a pain.”

IoTease: Project

Faux Neon Sign with EL Wire

Neon’s low-voltage cousin EL Wire is easy to bend and it’s driven by cheap inverters. You can even make it flash or fade. This project walks you through how to make a sign with EL Wire. Pretty cool if you want to decorate your place like a dive bar. We should make one for the server room here.


  • Electroluminescent (EL) wire
  • EL wire inverter
  • Batteries
  • Thin board (16″ x 16″)
  • Dry-erase marker
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Painter’s tape
  • Duct tape

Tricks of the Trade

The notion of the way it’s supposed to be or everything is planned in advanced is not a realistic life skill. We like to think “this should work this way” but things don’t always match that. When things don’t match our expectations it’s an opportunity to learn and exceed those expectations. You can go one of three directions when things do not go as planned: learn something, do better, or fail.

Editor’s Notes:

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