Recently, I’ve been trying to find fun outdoor activities I can try close to home. Having always been interested in the sport, but never having the time to play, I decided to try playing tennis.
I’ve never played competitively, but I felt like I knew enough basic technique to play on my own without any lessons. But before long, I discovered that I wasn’t as skilled as I’d thought. No matter how hard I tried, I struggled to even get the ball over the net.
But being the stubborn girl that I am, I refused to give up, returning to the court each day to try again. I became frustrated after just a few missed balls. Finally, after my anger became unbearable, I stopped and thought “why am I being so hard on myself?” I was just trying to have some fun, and instead I was becoming exceedingly angry.
From that point on, I focused on not only improving my tennis skills, but remembering why I was there in the first place: to enjoy myself and get away from my Corona Virus anxiety. With my renewed intentions, I found that I wasn’t only less frustrated, but I was actually getting better at the sport!
I’ve used this experience to put together a list of five different ways to overcome frustration when trying something new. Whatever new skill you’re struggling to master, I hope that you can use these tips to stay calm and work efficiently towards your goal.
1. Be patient and stay confident
This is the real challenge, but it is the most important. Maybe you’re like me and you expect immediate results from hard work. I find that it can be extremely frustrating to see our efforts getting us nowhere.
If you’re struggling to be patient with yourself and you’re starting to doubt your own abilities, stop what you’re doing and remind yourself to stick to it. Even if you have to say it out loud, you can encourage yourself to stay strong.
Remember, if you believe you can do it, don’t let anything stand in your way, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
2. Grab a friend
Luckily for me, tennis requires two players and it turns out my partner, my boyfriend Will, was just as bad as I was. Every time I swung my racket and completely missed the ball, his sympathy matched my frustration.
We were both experiencing the same annoyance, making it easy to verbalize our frustrations to each other. If you practice with a friend, you’ll always have someone to talk to (or vent to).
Another benefit of practicing with a buddy is that they will always be there to support you. If your techniques for staying patient and confident are starting to falter, a simple “you got this” or “keep at it” from someone else can be really encouraging. Plus, there’s the added benefit of getting to encourage someone else!
3. Practice self-forgiveness
If you’re a perfectionist like me, this step can be a little more challenging. We push ourselves to be our best, and when we fail, we take it out on ourselves. Whether we like it or not, getting mad at ourselves isn’t going to help us get better.
Beating yourself up will lower your confidence and, eventually, your motivation to continue. After a while, you’ll start to believe the terrible things you tell yourself. The solution? Instead of putting yourself down, build yourself up!
When you make a wrong turn, hit the ball out of the court or fall on your butt, reject the negative thoughts that try to creep in and replace them with encouraging words. Forgive yourself for your mistakes so you can focus on improvement.
4. Give yourself credit for the small things
Even though we may go into a practice session with great aspirations in mind, we can’t forget to take notice of our little achievements. Each day I would walk onto the tennis courts, I would set my goals, often unlikely and unattainable, but I was determined nonetheless.
I would think “today I want to make a perfect, legal serve“, or “I want to hit each ball with the right curve.” Usually, my attempts never go as planned. 9 out of 10 of my serves are too low and hit the net, and I can’t tell you how many balls I send flying over the fence.
But even when I mess up, I remind myself of the things I did right. That serve may have not gone over the net, but at least it didn’t go too far like last time. And I may have timed my swing wrong, but at least I didn’t miss the ball completely.
These self-assurances may seem silly, but when we admit to ourselves that we are imperfect, we can see these small victories a little clearer. And at the end of the day, we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished.
5. Know when to walk away
At the end of the day, you may find frustration inevitable. You’ve tried all the steps, but nothing seems to be working, and you feel like you’re only getting worse. Even though you feel determined to succeed, you have to know when to walk away.
If your frustration is getting in the way of your progress, there’s no point in continuing. You can come back when you’ve regained your patience and confidence.
Remember, walking away doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It simply means you are mature enough to know when your emotions are getting in the way of your improvement. Mastering a skill is a process, and failure is a big part of it.
Never let your emotions get in the way of your success! Always walk into a new challenge with maturity and clear intentions. Sometimes we won’t get as far as we want to go, but if we truly want to succeed, we have to respect the process and take charge of what we can control. Now go out there and try something new!
Has frustration ever gotten in the way of your goals? How did you overcome them? Comment below!