A Quick CBT look at Low Frustration Tolerance
Are you quick to irritation and anger? Do people annoy you? Do you ‘hate’ some people? Do you have to punish people often? Do you describe yourself as not ‘suffering fools gladly’? Do you think life is unfair?
If the answer to many of those questions is yes, you may have low frustration tolerance (LFT).
What is that? It is a term coined by one of the founding fathers of CBT, Dr Albert Ellis, referring to when we think we cannot (and shouldn’t have to) tolerate situations and conditions that we find frustrating.
This is ‘demand thinking’, and ‘musty thinking’, and of course is mostly very silly. How so? Read on….
If we go through life thinking that people SHOULD and MUST and OUGHT to think and feel and behave as we demand they should, or else it’s awful and we won’t stand for it – well, that’s irrational.
If we go through life thinking bad things are being ‘done to us’, and that we have the entitlement, (and that it is rational), to expect that people and the world should conform to our rigid inflexible ‘rules for living’, to our ‘must and should and ought‘ demands and beliefs, so that we are comfortable… or else it’s AWFUL and we can’t stand it – well, that’s an irrational recipe for unhappiness right there.
Fact: people are driven by their own priorities and rules, and even their own neurosis – and we can accept that, and accept people, and manage our communications effectively and coolly – or we can… explode. Often. The same goes for the random world – things happen, sometimes unfair things, sometimes challenging things – and it simply is what it is.
With LFT we live in exhausting world of: ‘I want, therefore I must have!’, ‘I won’t stand for it!’, ‘how dare they!’, ‘I believe and think this, therefore you should believe and think this!’, and ‘you must not behave like that or I will have to punish you!’, and the regulars ‘it’s not fair!’, ‘it’s AWFUL!’ and ‘I can’t bear it!’.. and so on. Instead of knowing that the world is random – and having the rational thinking skills filter of seeing what we can control, and what we cannot control, and adjusting our thinking appropriately.
LFT is a common cause of upsettness. And modern psychotherapy tells us that human beings largely cause our own upsettness, but that we can uncause it, if we build awareness and management of our distorted thinking.
Do you want to dismantle your LFT and become more calm and laid back? Do you want to be less upset less often? Do you want to change your self sabotaging behaviour? Do you want to be happier? Start to explore and apply CBT, the very practical science of changing how we think and feel and behave.
CBT teaches us to examine how we look at the world, how we think, how we explain things to ourselves (our self talk), and the meaning and significance we assign to events. And often, if our stress has become a disorder, we find that we have developed bad thinking habits, and that our filter is distorted and causing us over the top inappropriate responses to situations because of the way we view the situations.
With CBT, we learn to literally change the way we view life – we learn to recognise and dispute our negative (irrational) automatic thinking habits, and to develop new healthy appropriate thinking habits instead… it gives us the tools to develop a higher tolerance of things we find frustrating – we will literally not be as frustrated or angry or irritated if we are thinking more rationally – if we change our MUST and SHOULD and OUGHT demands to PREFERENCES instead – and if we know what we can control versus what we cannot control, and when to have acceptance, and how to live in the present.
Sounds good? Try it:
Maybe start with the Albert Ellis irrational thinking habits and disputes, and walk around the blog from there…
Or attend a one to one Li CBT session in Dublin’s Camden Street for guided self help in a therapy setting, and you can literally learn how to be happier through developing real skills through discussion and homework. Contact me at veronica@CBTandFeelingGood.com to organise a booking.
[ download this post as a PDF: LowFrustrationTolerance ]