Forgiving Frivolous Frustration

by Glynnis McDonnell, M.A.

Do you ever find yourself bothered by something relatively inconsequential? And then judging yourself for being bothered by something so ridiculous? I know I do. Case in point: this morning, I put a new creamer in my coffee because I couldn’t find the one I like…and it was disgusting! I tried to force myself to drink it anyway, but after a few sips I was pretty nauseated. I was then faced with the choice of whether I wanted to go without my morning coffee (something I am not ‘addicted’ to, but greatly enjoy as part of my morning routine) or take the time to leave my office and spend more money on coffee from Starbucks. I was pretty grumpy about this dilemma— and on top of that I was feeling guilty for being grumpy about something so dumb. I mean, I must be a pretty shallow person to be upset about COFFEE CREAMER. Right?!

Well, not exactly. That thinking is a pretty clear case of self-downing. I was forming a global negative judgment of myself based on my coffee creamer-related disappointment and frustration. Of course, it is true that there are much bigger problems in the world than my morning fix of French vanilla, but does being disappointed make me a completely shallow person? I have a good deal of evidence that although I can be shallow at times (e.g., when my morning coffee is gross), I am also someone with the capacity to deal with major problems and help others do the same. So is it really fair to globally judge myself as shallow because I was frustrated that my morning routine had some bumps along the way? Probably not. Not to mention, feeling guilty about my feelings was making it harder to get on with my day. Thus, I think it is important to forgive myself for my seemingly frivolous frustration, remind myself that being frustrated and disappointed about a relatively inconsequential event is not a major offense (and even if it were a major offense, it does not define me as a whole), get some coffee, and move on with my day.

Glynnis McDonnell, M.A.

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