Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors

Low Frustration Tolerance

Next to dissociation and emotional avoidance, Low Frustration Tolerance, sometimes called "I can't stand it-itis", is a major block to emotional growth.


Low Frustration Tolerance beliefs are basically unsupportable by evidence. Human beings can stand anything if they just stay there. Low Frustration Tolerance is an irrational trance that many believe, but seldom test. Low Frustration Tolerance is our intolerance for discomfort, difficulties, frustration, and painful emotions. Here we believe the idea that our situation is too difficult, too much, or unbearable. Cues may include: agitation, tension, poor attention, and leaving situations we really could stand. We've all seen people get huffy and suddenly leave a long bank line because they couldn't stand it or it was too much.


Low Frustration Tolerance, called impatience or discomfort anxiety, is created by distorted views of a situation and our ability to put up with it. Here are some typical Low Frustration Tolerance beliefs:


I need or deserve comfort all the time
I can't stand it
I can't bear it
I can't live without it
I can't tolerate it
It's too much
It's too heavy
I'm losing control
It's overwhelming
Will this ever end?
My life should be easy and comfortable
This is driving me out of my mind
Too B-O-R-I-N-G
This is excruciating
Too hard
This is too heavy
I'm going to jump out of my skin

Sometimes catastrophizing is added to the Low Frustration Tolerance to amp it up in our mind. This is our belief that the circumstances are also horrible, awful, terrible, or catastrophic.

Staying with the strong feelings generated by these superficial beliefs will allow the person who believes them to see that it's their belief about the situation that's creating most of their profound discomfort and not the actual situation. LFT, if believed, tends to really intensify aversive feelings. It's a negative magnifying lens on a situation. If we tack the belief "boredom" onto situation and it makes the situation uncomfortable and additionally unstimulating.


Where do we find LFT? Panic. Addictions. Compulsions. Procrastination. Worry. Rage and anger. Really strong LFT hints that trauma may be involved.


Acceptance, patience, and tolerance are arrived at through direct feeling, taking action in the face of LFT, and desensitizing LFT directly.


LFT's major challenges:

LFT's record of seeking instant gratification can often create stress in the future. Addictions, excessive TV watching instead of doing important duties, becoming involved in unsafe sex, exercise avoidance, overspending, overeating.


LFT lurks behind most procrastination. Procrastination creates problems in the near and distant future. More stress than avoided.


LFT helps make for complaining, blaming, and negativity and may thwart assertiveness and taking responsibility.

Having well developed patience and frustration tolerance is a key to the good life. Not overreacting to problems helps in all of life's areas. You are more willing to undertake learning and try new activities. Patience and frustration tolerance means you're accepting what is and what is uncomfortable without making it into more than what it is.


LFT can be wilted and mashed by learning to stand there and do what we better do. A Call to Action, the I Stood it Exercise, or Emo Direct Exposure would be useful here. If we get severely fearful or phobic it's best to feel those emotions and do what better be done.


This greatly deflates LFT. Nothing beats direct doing because it shows us very clearly that we can stand an activity, frustration, or extremely painful emotion. We can stand a great deal. In truth we can stand something until we die. When we believe we can't stand something we make that moment extremely uncomfortable.


Through experimenting we will discover we possess the ability to stay in there, to keep with it. Without patience and tolerance we will face massive roadblocks to our aspirations and to life. With LFT we bail out at the first signs of discomfort and struggle. Gang no more jumping out of a 20 person bank line because we can't stand it. Nonsense.


LFT exaggerates feelings as well as leads to lethargy; a lack of discipline; helplessness; hopelessness; a focus on short-term discomfort rather than on long-term goals and rewards; and the building up of complaining and self-pity. Further LFT blocks our awareness of our ability to complete tasks and leads to awfulizing about our inability to control our emotions. LFT can also lead to us hating uncertainty and focusing on other's negative behavior.


LFT better be experienced and overcome. Take direct action in the face of LFT. I count LFT as one of the first targets to go after if you find it gumming up your life. It slows growth so it better be addressed.


The I Stood Exercise is an excellent exposure exercise for Low Frustration Tolerance. 

Quick tips for LFT:


LFT feelings can be targets for integration or Emotional Writing.

Relaxing with vagus nerve based relaxation exercises like the Longevity Manuever or the Dive Reflex maneuver will weaken Low Frustration Tolerance's sense of overwhelm.


People who have "No Frustration Tolerance" may want to start facing their Low Frustration Tolerance situations with a relaxation exercise for the first couple of goes at LFT.

Question your LFT beliefs can weaken them. Ask yourself these questions:

Could you stand it?
Have you stood it before?

Have you coped with a similar situation?
Could you stand it for 2 million dollars or some other highly valued awards?
If you can--you just proved you could stand it.
If your brain is not malformed--can you really go crazy or just get upset?
Have you ever lived without it?
Where's the evidence that it's really too much? Is your evidence based on just your belief?

Why might LFT beliefs be labeled as anti-empirical statements (no evidence for the statements)?

Can you stand it two minutes at a time?

George Bernard Shaw noted two tragedies of life: "Not getting your heart's desire and getting your heart's desire."


View your task as simple steps and not as an overwhelming whole.


Use the Creator on an upcoming Low Frustration Tolerance situation and ask the Miracle Question (as seen in The Creator) in ways that have you successfully standing and staying through the difficult or uncomfortable. Say you looked back on your completed task from 3 years in the future, what good feelings would you have about completing it? How did you first notice that you accepted it? When did it feel doable? What did you think about the successful task?


Feelings change--they never remain the same. Stay with doing a task and your feelings change.


Give your attention to your task. I can't stand it-itis loses its punch as you pay fuller attention to your task.



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