What really gets you frustrated?

What really gets you frustrated?  Who frustrates you?

I am intrigued by the varied responses to these two questions.  There seem to me to be three concepts that directly influence how we answer these questions: 1) Self-Efficacy, 2) Locus of Control, and 3) Self-Esteem. 

This isn’t a psychology class, but it is important we understand these concepts in how they impact the way we relate to people who differ from us.

Self-Efficacy is an individual’s sense of ability to solve a problem. Or do they have the capacity to deal with a difficult issue? Albert Bandura first coined this phrase in 1977. Generally, this means whether an individual senses they are competent to solve the problem or deal with the issue.  At one extreme are those who see the frustration as a challenge or puzzle to solve.  So, they move into a problem-solving frame of mind. They view the frustration as the result of something “out there” that isn’t working, so they attempt to marshal all their creative problem-solving resources to fix the existing problem. 

The other extreme is those who feel like giving up when they become frustrated.  This is because they feel there is a problem “inside of me” that isn’t working.  So, if they can’t eliminate the frustration, it is because they can’t fix themselves.  This leads to feeling a sense of incompetence.

Obviously, these are two extremes of self-efficacy.  Either extreme or the various perspectives in between are rooted in how we learned to respond to frustrations or challenges early in our lives. 

The second concept is similar but different and is known as “locus of control.” In 1954, Julian Rotter began to study what became known as Locus of Control.  His research pointed to the fact that some people attribute their problems to things outside themselves (external locus of control). In contrast, others attribute their problems to things inside themselves (internal locus of control).  In other words, did I fail the test because it was too hard (external) or because I didn’t study (internal)?  Rotter and his students gave evidence that people generally fall into one of these two categories.

The third concept is Self-Esteem. Though similar to Self-Efficacy, it is different because Self-Efficacy is about what you can do, Self-Esteem is who you are.  A person with high self-esteem is not threatened by others because they know their value transcends what others think of them.  They know whose they are.

Jesus knew he was the Son of God. Jesus also knew we were created to be sons and daughters of God.  He knew that the Father loved us enough to send his very Son.  This is the foundation of our self-esteem.  

Though these concepts seem theological and technical, I believe these three, Self-Efficacy, Locus of Control, and Self-Esteem directly impact our ability to navigate differences with others.  They will impact how you handle people who vote, value, believe, or behave differently from you. 

This year, as the election propaganda and the newsreels roll, remember these three things which we are promised in the accompanying passages:

  1. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Self-Efficacy), because if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger (Philippians 4.12-13).  You can face all things because of what Christ is doing in and through you.
  2. It doesn’t matter whether the issues come from within you or from outside of you (Locust of Control) because your faith is built on the truth that cannot be shaken. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8.31-39). So face it either way with grace, transparency and authenticity.
  3. Your value or worth has already been settled (Self-Esteem). It was established as you were born anew through Christ’s love, as demonstrated by his giving his very life to you.  So you have nothing to prove to anyone else. (Ephesians 2.4-10)

As followers of Christ, we have no reason to fear because we know who ultimately wins.  We can be confident that we can do what God wants us to do regardless of what happens in this world.  We are individuals who God loves, and therefore, we can be people of peace, purpose, and perseverance during difficult days.






One response to “What really gets you frustrated?”

  1. Rob Maupin Avatar
    Rob Maupin

    One of the things I love most about these posts is that you don’t go on and on, but you access some of the most profound things about leadership and self-awareness. Well done like always. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!

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