In this part of Activity 4, we’ve laid out a few steps to help you become better at dealing with frustration. Practicing them will make it easier to persist and, over time, help you get less frustrated during your learning journey.
There are two parts to this process. First, in the heat of the moment, when it’s just you, what do you do? We call this the internal component.
Second, after you’ve calmed down and still can’t figure it out, what are some options? We call this the external component.
The internal component
First let's focus on what to do when you’re about to rip up your homework, feed it to your dog, or pretend it never existed—the internal heat of the moment. What you choose to do is very important because it can affect how you feel about yourself and how you deal with frustrating topics in the future.
Step 1: Recognize
Recognize your frustration. Don't ignore it. Allowing yourself to be frustrated and saying to yourself that it is okay is an important first step and is surprisingly relieving.
Step 2: Remind
Sometimes struggle and a little frustration are a good thing. It means you’re challenging yourself to learn. Remind yourself that difficulty—and struggle—are a natural part of pushing yourself to grow as a learner. Just as you can push yourself to run faster by engaging your muscles to their limit, you can push your neurons to work extra hard. The more you push, the more your muscles will be sore and tired in the moment. But when that soreness goes away, your muscles are stronger. Frustration can be a sign that your brain is getting sore and tired.
Step 3: Reset
Try taking a short break. A few minutes away might be what your brain needs. Then, come back to your work. Often, you will see the problem with fresh eyes. Don’t overlook the importance of this step! If all you can focus on is how frustrated you are, it may be hard for your brain to be ready to learn. On the other hand, be careful not to use this step to run away from the thing that is making you frustrated.
The good news is that the more times you go through these internal steps, the stronger your good habits will become, and the easier and more intuitive it will be to maintain a growth mindset.
The external component
After we’ve had a moment to take a step back from the frustration and clear our minds by following the steps for the internal component, we still have to unfrustrate ourselves and finish what we started.
It would be terrible if we were stuck in a frustration cycle in which we struggle, then get frustrated, calm down, and then repeat. That’s where the external component comes in.
Let's hear from a few Khan Academy content creators how they overcame their frustrations and got themselves back on the right track.
Yuki's science journey
Yuki helps manage Khan Academy's science content, and before that she received her PhD in Chemistry at Cornell University.
Listen to Yuki share how she overcame her frustrations and embraced the struggle through her chemistry classes in college. Believe it or not, she wasn’t always good at chemistry! It was the struggle that developed her skills for breaking down and explaining chemistry concepts—an ability that many users of Khan Academy chemistry content have benefited from!
Jeff's math journey
Jeff creates math content for Khan Academy. Listen as Jeff shares how he initially reacted to his frustration by blaming his teacher instead of reflecting inwardly. It was only when he joined study groups that he noticed there was not one secret key to success.
Melanie's economics journey
Melanie is the content creator for Khan Academy AP micro and macro economics resources. Before joining Khan Academy, she received her PhD in economics and was a university economics professor. Like a lot of us, Melanie struggled more in one subject than others. For her, the toughest subject was math. Listen to how Melanie overcame her frustration in math.
After we’ve understood our frustrations internally, we need to address the frustration head on.
Yuki noted how important study groups and vocalizing what she's struggling with is for her.
Jeff mentioned how important asking questions is for him and said the hardest step for him was recognizing his frustration.
Melanie took a different approach and made more time for something she historically was frustrated with. In high school, you sometimes can't decide to take fewer classes, but you can organize your day to make more time, if needed.
These stories are by no means comprehensive, but they show the perspectives of some people who have successfully navigated the challenges and frustrations they encountered in their learning journey.
You have completed part 2 of 3 for this activity: Learn!
Want to join the conversation?
- does this make yall mad yall sometimes(22 votes)
- Why...do we all ways have to do this?...(15 votes)
- Does a grade letter define how good we are in a subject?(9 votes)
- No. It shows how well you performed on that specific assessment / test. Some assessments only ask you to 'plug and play' i.e. put numbers in a formula and record the answer. Mathematics on the other hand is a way of thinking about things and expressing that thinking using the maths language.(10 votes)
- I still don't understand how we reset frustration😩(6 votes)
- Don't reset frustration. Getting frustrated is your body's way of asking for help from within itself. Each time your brain "asks for help" you get a little better at the frustrating thing (Even if that difference is not yet noticeable). Get your frustrated circuits to fire enough so that you can get better at anything. If you do something and your brain isn't frustrated, it won't send its so-called 'help calls' and you will not get better at that thing.(6 votes)
- When I am mad I go for a walk to blow off some steam.
the growth strategy i would try is speak up and ask for help.(6 votes)
- When I am frustrated, I start feeling tired and thinking I am going nowhere.
I realize that I start indulging in distractions, without taking care of the time anymore.
Soon, I quit.
Next time it happens, I will remind me about what John Legend says about "the greats": persistent, tenacious, and learning from their failures.
And that, struggling is when learning is actually happening in the brain.
Maybe I could also say to myself: "If you are not struggling, you are not really learning."
To reset, I will take a break and breathe, walk outside, and have a glass of fresh water.
Or listening 2 songs from an album.
Or read a few pages of a book I am reading.
Or have a longer 15-20m walk without thinking, or talking with a friend.(7 votes)
- I can know when i am frustrated when I get mad and stop trying things.I remind my self when i say you need to calm down and do anything relaxing.I reset when i ask for help.(4 votes)