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Frustration Tolerance & Instant Gratification

frustration, anger, impatient, counseling, therapyIt’s been said that the best things in life take time– and not only do they take time, they are often earned by hard work, determination and sometimes require sacrifice.   However, we now live in a world in which nearly everything is available to us literally at the click of a button. We no longer need to wait for our little indulgences – we can have them almost instantly! You want that new dress? Order with your prime account, put it on your credit card and voilà, you will have it tomorrow! You want to watch your favorite show? The on-demand feature on your television let’s you binge watch every episode, right this very instant! You want to meet someone new? Log on to the dating app on your phone, see who’s in your area and go out for drinks that very same night!

While these conveniences are certainly wonderful, they may also contribute to a growing inability to handle our frustrations when we do not get what we want immediately. If you find yourself becoming impatient when a webpage takes longer than 10 seconds to load, become irritated when you have to wait in line at Starbucks to get your coffee or become exasperated when someone puts your phone on hold – you might be experiencing what Albert Ellis, a famous psychologist and therapist called the “can’t-stand-it-itis” or low frustration tolerance. Low frustration tolerance consists of our inability to tolerate uncomfortable situations, painful emotions and other difficulties of life. We tell ourselves that our situation is unfair, unbearable, too difficult, too boring, too much to handle and we become overwhelmed, tense, agitated and impatient, and we give up on things we really could stand. Low frustration tolerance contributes to anxiety, depression, addictions, panic, compulsive behavior, procrastination, and anger. At GroundWork Counseling we’ve noticed these challenges becoming more prevalent, and a major contributor to individual’s unhappiness. 

Examples of low frustration tolerance include:

  • Self-pity, whining and complaining
  • Attributing conclusive, definite conditions to a situation and predicting, dire terrible outcomes
  • Pursuing immediate pleasures despite known costs
  • Avoiding and/or exaggerating temporary discomforts despite long-term gains
  • Impulsive behavior to fix a situation that would likely fix itself in time
  • Impatience, anger and annoyance that is out of proportion to the situation
  • Giving up because the work that needs to be done seems too difficult

The good news is that a high frustration philosophy can be developed by changing the way you think and by challenging your low frustration ideas again and again until they become a new way of thinking for you. Often, at GroundWork Counseling we help our clients adapt this new way of thinking so that they can lead a happier, more fulfilling life. Learning to effectively deal with and tolerate life’s irritations and annoyances is the key to achieving daily serenity and helps you to develop a more logical, rational and flexible approach to life.


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GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
341 N Maitland Ave #330
Maitland, FL 32751


411 Congress St #3292
Portland, ME 04101

Burlington, VT 05043

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Virtual / Telehealth appointments available for individuals residing in: Florida, Maine, Vermont, South Carolina & Montana

In-person appointments available in Central Florida. By appointment only.

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