Frustration Hinders Learning

Do you remember being in math class trying to learn a new concept, but you just couldn’t figure it out for the life of you? Every time you run through the problem you either keep getting the same answer or something totally different every time, but no matter what you’re not getting the correct answer. You move onto another problem and the same thing occurs. Now you’re becoming more and more frustrated. The teacher can see your frustration, so she comes over to offer some help. Despite her walking you through the process and thinking you figured it out, later that day when you’re doing your homework you experience the same frustration.

Frustration hinders your ability to learn. Even though your teacher may have walked you through the process, the frustration you had built up earlier occupied your brain. Rather than processing what’s being taught, when you’re frustrated your mind is occupied therefore inhibiting your ability to take in new concepts.

Frustration occurs naturally, and I’m not going to tell you that you can’t ever be frustrated—that’s not fair nor realistic. Instead, I want you to account and plan for this frustration to occur.

If you want to learn from your mistakes or failures, you must plan to step away from the mess once it occurs so you can revisit it with clearer perspective. The common mistake is to immediately reflect on what went wrong so we don’t forget the details, but I’d argue that by doing so our mind is usually too clouded for us to be entirely objective and truly learn from what happened. When we plan to step away, let our frustration settle, and come back to reflect, we learn better, and those lessons are more likely to stay with us for the long term.

Plan for frustration, it’s a part of the process. Even if you don’t find yourself getting frustrated, allowing your mind to clear before reflecting on your work will ensure you learn the most that you can. When you’re planning out your projects, literally write down that there will be a week break once you finish. Then it’s even more important to write down that you will spend time reflecting on the project once the break is over.

Learn to step away. Learn to clear your mind. Learn to come back to the issue or the situation when the frustration has dwindled. This is how you learn from your mistakes, otherwise you won’t allow yourself to truly learn anything from your experiences.