One of my first clients in my psychotherapy practice expressed what I experienced over and over in people with depression: a pervasive feeling of entrapment, of feeling like there is no choice but to give in to what is dictated or expected, either by our parents or other family members, by our work or by our bodies.

Sometimes there is no way to resist what is forced on us. When our health is failing and all remedies have been exhausted, we have to learn how to live with the limitations of our bodies. When we feel stuck in an unhappy marriage and divorce is not an option, we have to learn how to make do. When our workload is too much to bear but we can’t afford to leave, we have to find other ways to be satisfied.

Sometimes it helps to try and find meaningful activities or relationships outside of the area of frustration. If your wife is overly critical but you can’t get her to stop, you can try to reconnect with your estranged daughter. Or it can help to join a group or a church where you can forge new relationships and feel a rewarding bond to the teachers or other members there.

Acceptance is the first thing we have to try and do when we can’t control certain circumstances of our life. How do we get there? Usually with the help of a mixture of endless frustration and letting go.

It’s important to soothe the voices of rebellion inside of you. When you feel desperate or enraged, try to empathize with those emotions. Something like: Yes, of course I get frustrated when my husband keeps ignoring me because I feel disregarded and left alone. Of course, I feel overwhelmed when my body won’t function the way it used to. Of course I am unhappy in this job, because I worked hard to get further ahead than this.

Once the parts of the self who are in need of attending to are satisfied, we are be more able to accept the cards that have been dealt to us. There is more of a sense of peace after we allow those feelings of despair and pain to unfold.

Almost all frustration is temporary. Even though we feel trapped today, tomorrow we might feel better, if just a little bit. It may come back the next day, but right now we feel ok.

We tend to under-appreciate those windows of peace and restfulness and get hung up on the pain that lies ahead of us. Enjoy those moments of relaxation.

photo credit: Fairy Heart