Do You Have Low Frustration Tolerance?

Psychologist Albert Ellis developed the concept of “Low Frustration Tolerance” (LFT) as part of a greater theory on procrastination as it relates to cognitive behavior.

LFT is a peculiar form of self-defeating behavior. By habitually avoiding short-term frustrations, unaddressed issues and unfinished work grow into much bigger, much more stressful problems. As a sufferer of LFT continues to dodge small, tedious tasks, they inadvertently grow them into large, dreadful problems. Once the problems are bigger, the aversion to the work is greater, building an ever-growing mountain of work to be done (and an ever-growing mountain of stress to match).

Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT)

  • Seeking immediate pleasure or avoidance of pain at the cost of long-term stress and defeatism.
  • Short-term psychological hedonism.
  • (Albert Ellis also jokingly called it “can’t-stand-it-itis,” as in “I just can’t stand it!”)
  • High Frustration Tolerance (HFT), on the other hand, is a much better trait for productivity, not to mention mental health. Those with HFT can tolerate the frustration-filled tasks required to do their work and meet their long-term goals. While they’re not delighted with the short-term tedium, they have much bigger things to be happy about in the end.

    What is your frustration tolerance? Have you run into “can’t-stand-it-itis” at work?

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    Peter is Vice President of Digital Marketing at an investment holdings company in Washington DC and Co-Founder at True North.


    1. garrick lee on the 16th July

      just a tad vague, but i can agree with what’s said

    2. Thera on the 17th July

      I thought “yes” when I read the the title of the article, in the sense that when I see something frustrating or unefficient (things that frustrate me are usually things that are inefficient, so it’s almost a synonym in my case), I act to improve things instead of letting them as they are.

      However, that’s not the behavior described in the article, so I guess the answer is “no”: when annoying tasks have to be done, I just do them because I know they’re not gonna get done by themselves otherwise anyway.

    3. edgar andres zorrilla on the 18th July

      This hit home. and because it did hit home so well. I already feel more productive because I know what to do next time I feel like bitchin! LOL Thanks! I will be an ongoing reader of this blog from now on! lol

    4. Mike on the 19th July

      your saying people with low frustration tolerance should be more tolerant.

      I think people who feel sad should just be less sad.

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