June 6


What causes low frustration tolerance?

By Harry Heijligers

June 6, 2022

Low frustration tolerance is a significant cause of stress, anxiety, and depression. It's also a massive problem in our society.

We've got to do something about this!

In this article, I'll explain why we should care about low frustration tolerance, how it affects us, and how we can change it.

I'll also share with you the top 5 reasons why most people have low frustration tolerance.

But first...


what causes low frustration tolerance quote

Understanding The Root Cause Of Low Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance refers to the amount of stress we're willing to endure before becoming frustrated.

add low frustration tolerance

We've all experienced this at some point.

We're trying to accomplish something important, like finish, a project, meet a deadline, or complete a task. But we keep getting distracted by something else, and our frustration builds until we finally give up.

This happens because we're not aware of the root cause of our frustration.

We are frustrated because we react to events without choosing how to respond to them.
What do I mean by that?

Whatever happens to you, you can always choose how you want to react. Do you react instinctively, without thinking?

Or do you count to 10, think about it, and then choose your reaction?

If you don't consciously decide on how you want to respond, you'll automatically react based on your emotional state. And if you're angry, stressed, anxious, or depressed, you won't be able to focus on anything else but your anger.

anxiety and frustration

That's precisely what happens when you get frustrated. You lose control over your emotions. You become overwhelmed by them, and they take over your thoughts.

So, why do you react instinctively instead of deliberately?

There are five main reasons for this:

  • lack of self-control
  • low self-esteem
  • negative thinking patterns
  • low levels of serotonin
  • anxiety or depression

Let's dive in:

feelings of frustration

Low Frustration Tolerance May Be Caused By Lack of self-control

frustration discomfort scale

A lack of self-control may cause low frustration tolerance because if you don't control yourself, you won't be able to manage your reactions and emotions.

Think about it. If you're not controlling your actions, then you won't be in control of your feelings either.

So when you feel angry or upset, you might lash out at someone else instead of dealing with your anger or sadness on your own.

You might yell at someone or throw things around. Or maybe you just walk away from an argument without resolving anything.

This means that you're not really taking responsibility for your behavior, and therefore you're not being responsible for your feelings.

This leads to low frustration tolerance because you're letting other people dictate what happens to you.

frustration in children

If you want to improve your frustration tolerance, you must take control of your life. Learning to control your thoughts, words, and actions would be helpful.

If you can't control your actions, then there's no way you can manage your emotions.

This is where self-discipline comes into play.

frustration intolerance

Low Frustration Tolerance May Be Caused By Low self-esteem

frustration level

People who feel bad about themselves don't try hard enough to achieve things. They give up too quickly and lack the willpower necessary to succeed.

They often blame others for their failures, and they're afraid to take risks. It's easy to see why these people would have low self-esteem; after all, they've been told repeatedly that they aren't good enough.

But those negative thoughts only lead to failure.

You can overcome low self-esteem by changing your mindset. Instead of thinking negatively, think positively. Think about yourself as a person who deserves success. Believe in yourself, and you'll start achieving great things.

Speaking of negative thinking...

frustration muscle

Low Frustration Tolerance May Be Caused By Negative thinking patterns

frustration often causes

People who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to focus on the negatives in life, and that leads to feelings of hopelessness.

They may feel like they don't control certain situations, leading to frustration.

In turn, these frustrations lead to anger, which can cause them to lash out at others. These behaviors can affect relationships, jobs, and friendships.

It's essential to seek treatment for any mental health issues you might be experiencing.

Therapy can help you cope with stressful situations and improve your overall outlook on life.

frustration threshold

Low Frustration Tolerance May Be Caused By Low Levels of Serotonin

frustration tolerance level

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation.

It affects depression and anxiety, affecting our ability to cope with stress.

Low serotonin levels can cause feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and lack of motivation.

People who suffer from these symptoms may feel like giving up on life altogether.

They may become irritable, angry, and depressed.

In addition, low serotonin levels can cause insomnia, fatigue, and headaches.

These symptoms can contribute to low frustration tolerance.

frustration tolerance

Low Frustration Tolerance May Be Caused By Anxiety or Depression

how to deal with low frustration tolerance

People who suffer from these conditions tend to be overly sensitive to negative emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and disappointment.

They may feel anxious when things don't go their way and become depressed when they fail to achieve specific goals.

These feelings can lead to irritability and impatience, which can cause problems in relationships and job performance.

Physical symptoms associated with these feelings include stomach pain, headaches, insomnia, and fatigue.

irrational belief

How Does Life Experience Affect Low Frustration Tolerance?

low frustration tolerance adhd

Life experience affects low frustration tolerance in two ways.

First, life experiences teach us how to cope with stressful situations.

For example, if I was raised by parents who didn't understand me, I might have trouble expressing my feelings. My parents might have told me to "get over it" or "just suck it up."

And if I had a lot of family members who treated me poorly, I might have developed a habit of ignoring conflict or trying to avoid it altogether.

These coping mechanisms would cause me to become frustrated and annoyed easily.

Eventually, I realized that these behaviors were not working for me. So, instead of using those same old methods, I started learning to express myself in healthy ways. Now, I try to handle difficult situations with compassion and understanding.

low frustration tolerance in adults

The second way life experience affects low frustration tolerance is through our interactions with others.

If I'm surrounded by people who mistreat me, I won't learn to cope with conflict. Instead, I'll end up treating others the same way. Then, when I run into someone who treats me nicely, I'll probably remember that person and look forward to seeing them again.

Over time, I'll also expect good treatment from others. So, I'll begin to see conflict as less threatening and unpleasant.

This change in perspective could lead to a reduction in my frustration level.

low frustration tolerance meaning

Take Responsibility for your Emotions

low frustration tolerance

Taking responsibility for one's actions is a difficult lesson for adults. Many adults believe that bad things happen because they are weak or stupid. As a result, they blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

It is as if they are incapable of taking care of themselves.

To improve your life, you must take full responsibility for your actions. Saying no to destructive thoughts, negative emotions, and bad habits would benefit you.

It's essential to take responsibility for our emotions because we can't control everything that happens around us. We can't always predict what might happen next, and we can't always control how we feel.

low frustration tolerance

However, we can always control our reactions to situations.

By taking responsibility for our emotions, we can become aware of our feelings and why we feel that way.

Once we understand our feelings, we can decide whether or not we should act on those feelings. And by acting on those feelings, we can change our behavior and improve our relationships.

low frustration tolerance


low frustration tolerance

In conclusion, low frustration tolerance is often caused by a lot of factors. But having low self-esteem, is one important cause of low frustration tolerance.

When someone has low self-esteem, they tend to believe that they aren't worthy of happiness or success. To protect themselves from failure, they avoid situations that could lead to failure, which results in a loss of many opportunities to grow and develop.

The solution to this problem is simple: build up your self-esteem.

Start by taking small steps towards accomplishing your goals, whether learning a new skill or building a relationship.

Once you've completed these tasks, you'll notice that your confidence grows along with your accomplishments.

Soon, you'll be able to tackle more significant challenges without fear of failure.

low frustration tolerance symptoms

Harry Heijligers

About the author

Harry Heijligers has more than 25 years of experience as a Project Manager and more than 17 years of experience as an NLP Trainer. He has a Dutch blog about NLP here: HarryHeijligers.com.
If you'd like to know about the Smart Leadership Hut, please check this: Smart Leadership Hut.

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