Don't Panic! Frustration is an Anti-Pattern

Warrior Face Sketch

Frustration and programming seem to go hand in hand. When solving problems with code, there are an unlimited amount of things that can go wrong, and very few things that can go right:

  • The third party library you’re using to implement a piece of functionality doesn’t work as stated in the documentation.
  • Your co-worker unknowingly reverted a bug fix you made the previous week.
  • You accidentally deployed code that corrupted user data.

Unfortunately, this means that if you write a lot of code, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time frustrated on a day-to-day basis.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that lots of people tend to embrace their frustration instead of doing the opposite and letting it go.

When you bump into problems, if you tell yourself that it is difficult, and convince yourself that you are a victim of issues you can’t control–your frustration will simply keep building and building, and your work will quickly dwindle in quality.

The more you embrace your frustration, the more frustrated you become.

Through my own experience, I know that some individuals (and companies!) actually thrive off frustration. Instead of acknowledging the issues at hand, some people simply press each other harder, and make each other feel worse. In the workplace, this manifests as a boss pressuring his subordinates when they’re in a tight spot, adding to the frustration and intensity of the whole organization–and delivery sub-par results.

There is no way to stop yourself from being frustrated. Instead, however, you can┬áconsciously make a decision to acknowledge your frustration (that broken third party library, your reverted bug fix, whatever), realize that your frustration isn’t helping you make progress, and let it go.

With a clear head, you can now tackle the next most important problem (fixing that broken library) without compromising your sanity.

Just let it go.