Frustration is Your Brain’s Check Engine Light


Seeing your check engine light suddenly come on can be very frustrating.  Did you know your brain has a natural check engine light?  It’s the feeling of being frustrated.

Whenever you feel frustrated, your brain focuses your attention on the fact that you feel something you value is being denied. Whenever we don’t get our needs/desires satisfied to the levels we want, we get frustrated. It indicates something is judged to be “wrong,” based on a value judgement,  using your values/needs as the standards of “right.”   Frustration provides internal motivation to change your frustrating situation in some way.  The stronger your value/need/desire is to you, then the more intensely frustrated you may feel if you believe your need is being denied or your value is being violated. If something doesn’t naturally matter to you, then it is unlikely to be a source of frustration.  No one situation will generate frustration in all humans.  We are each unique in our values/needs/desires.

For example, let’s say you are on a family vacation driving trip when you notice your check engine light has just come one.  One person might be frustrated because s/he highly values the family time and fears that the engine issue will cut down on the enjoyment of the family’s vacation.  Another person who has a high sense of honor or duty may be frustrated because s/he now feels guilty for not having the engine inspected prior to taking the trip.  A third person may feel frustrated because they desire a sense of order and have planned the entire trip down to the minute and view having to stop and have the engine looked at by a mechanic as an unwelcome change of plans.  The same thing happened to all of these people, the check engine light came on.  Each of them experienced a varying degree of frustration as a natural reaction to the situation based on his/her value judgment.  The key difference is understanding that each individuals frustrated reaction was the result of his/her own strong needs/values/desires.

Dr. Steven Reiss, PhD., is a recognized expert on human motivation and developed 16 Basic Desires Theory. He created the Reiss Motivation Profile®, which is a scientifically valid  assessment tool to measure our 16 individual needs/desires we all share to varying levels as humans.  A great way to understand more about human motivation is to read his book, “Who Am I?”

As a Reiss Motivation Profile Master, I was trained by Dr. Reiss to help people understand what matters most to them and what they need to feel satisfied with life and to avoid frustration.  By completing a Reiss Motivation Profile®, you will discover which of the 16 basic desires drives your behaviors and can be the source of your greatest frustrations.  Once you understand your frustration check engine light, you can create strategies to effectively reduce your frustration and return yourself back to enjoying the trip down life’s highway.

Frustration is a warning, just like your check engine light.  If you leave it unaddressed, then you risk being stuck on the side of the road or worse.  Your brain is not designed to tolerate long-term frustration and so it is best to know how to try to reduce frustration before it becomes a more significant issue which impacts your well-being.

If frustration is lighting up on your mental dashboard?  Perhaps a better understanding of your needs/desires and values can help you stay on the road to success, improve your productivity and increase your sense of well-being.

For your Reiss Motivation Profile® online assessment: Contact me at and I’ll arrange for you to complete a Reiss Motivation Profile® online.  Together we will conduct three 45 minute tele-coaching sessions to review your results and to discover what matters most to you and create strategies to increase your sense of well-being.

Your Reiss Motivation Profile® and three personal coaching consultation sessions are only a total of $988.00 US.

Why Can’t I Do What I Should Do? Skill VS Will

A tricolour Basset Hound.

A tricolour Basset Hound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all have tasks which we believe we “should” do if we desire to achieve some goal. If one knows what one “should” do and believes one “should” do it then why is it so hard for one to do it?

Does one know how to do it? Whenever one has a gap between actual and desired action or performance, a great place to begin is to ask oneself if one knows how to do the task. A great test to see if someone has the required knowledge and/or skill is to ask, “If someone offered a million dollars to compete this task, could I get it done somehow?” (Note: hiring someone else to do the task and pocketing the rest of the cash is not an option.) If one could complete the task given a significant incentive or coerced to complete the task to avoid a significant harm or punishment, then one knows what to do and how to do it.

GETTING ADDITIONAL TRAINING WILL TYPICALLY NOT BE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN MOTIVATING ONE TO COMPLETE A TASK! Teaching someone how to do something better which they already know how to do but choose not to do, is usually not very effective in motivating someone to do what they don’t like to do. So what’s missing?

longhaired Basset Hound

longhaired Basset Hound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does one have the will to do the task? Is there significant internal motivation to satisfy a need or desire to complete the task? We all are able to sometimes do things we really are not interested or hate doing. Why can we do these sometimes and other times we are unable to rise to the occasion? Denying a natural need or desire to go against one’s natural motivation and choosing to act in a way counter to one’s nature requires resilience and willpower and comes at an emotional cost. Studies have shown willpower requires significant energy and if one expends all of one’s highly limited willpower reserves, one is unable to overcome one’s natural resistance to self-denial of one’s internal motives or base desires.

Dr. Steven Reiss, PhD has studied human motivation extensively and has created a motivation theory which categorizes basic human motives or desires into 16 common motives. You can read more about Dr. Reiss’s theory at If one doesn’t fully understand and appreciate what drives one’s internal motivation/desires, then one is easily blocked and frustrated. When we don’t get our needs satisfied, we tend to get frustrated and this too is draining. Frustration and willpower are tough to power at the same time. Unfortunately, frustration outlasts willpower and we give up as we run out of mental steam.

In many situations one may wish to “fix” or “educate” someone who is not meeting one’s expectations in a personal or business relationship through teaching them the “error” of their ways or selling them on a new path to personal wellness. This will be successful in the long-term if the client or subject is internally motivated to use this new knowledge or skill in a way which satisfies a significant need/desire. It’s news one can use. If not, the behavioral change will at best be temporary and under stress, the client/subject will typically revert back to natural behavior based on personal need satisfaction.

Determining if a performance gap or failure to adapt to a change is a resulting from a lack of knowledge/skill or a lack of will is often the key to determining the lasting effectiveness of any performance improvement intervention. Too often we try to teach a sheep to sing and end up frustrating both the sheep and the teacher. There is an apt coaching admonition which says, “A coach cannot want a player to play better than the player wants to play.” It’s typically best to hire the best players one can find and afford and not try to teach sub-par, unmotivated team members to success through coaching and training. If someone simply does not have the will to do what s/he knows how to do, then until s/he finds an internal motive to do the task which is greater than the natural resistance, the odds of successful behavior until completion are small. We each chase our own hybrid of motivational carrots.

Why are you not achieving your full potential? What are you forcing yourself to regularly do things which fizzles you out even if you are good at doing them? Is frustration holding you back from peak performance? Are you chasing the right carrot for you?

A Reiss Motivation Profile® can be an excellent starting point on life’s motivational marathon. If you would like to discover what naturally motivates you, please send me an e-mail at and we will schedule your personal RMP consultation.

Basset Hound

Basset Hound (Photo credit: Philippe Guintoli)

Learning to use your strengths to satisfy your needs/desires is a surefire way to live Fired Up!

How to Get What You Want

Looking Back at LIFE

Looking Back at LIFE (Photo credit: CliffMuller)

Wanting an Answer

“What do you want most in life?”-asked the life coach.

“I want more of what I want and less of what I don’t want.”-responded the client.

“Seems reasonable, what do you think is keeping you from getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t want?”-asked the coach.

“I don’t know what I want!”-said the client.

Do you know what you want in life?

Are you engaged in the active pursuit of your happiness, satisfaction, legacy, dreams and purpose in life or are you living a life of unintended consequences? Have you chosen to be the author of your life’s epic autobiography or are you an extra in a crowd scene, under someone else’s direction? Do you know what you want in life?

Life Test

Here’s a simple  life test to help you check the essential quality of your life. It’s a simple test, but it is not easy.

Instructions: Complete the following statements to your satisfaction. No one else can possibly answer these statements for you.  Give yourself permission to be totally honest. Do not require the answers to be realistic, practical or responsible. Your dreams are welcome here. Good luck!

1) In my ideal life, I want…

2) In my ideal life, I do not want…

Scoring: Think about your statements and then objectively rate your life and assign a score based on evidence from your life.  Which question has the most points?  Are you getting the most of what you want the most?

What if you still don’t know what you really want? Then you should be satisfied with whatever you get. Not you? Then maybe you are not listening to your life as it tells you what you want. Are you feeling frustrated?


If you experience a sense of frustration, then chances are you are not getting enough of what you want. The stronger your sense of frustration, the more you have a clear indication that you are not getting something you want.  A Reiss Motivation Profile® (RMP) can be very helpful by revealing your most valued needs. We want most what we value and need the most. (You can e-mail me at if you would like to complete a Reiss Motivation Profile ®.)

What Does the Possibility Store Have In Store For You?

Imagine you are strolling down the aisle of the Possibility Store where you can buy anything, including thoughts, dreams, feelings and experiences. Are you shopping for you or are you buying what someone else has told you that you should buy? Are you filling your life cart in a futile attempt to fulfill your parent’s expectations? Are you trying to purchase the approval of others? Are both hands filled with other people’s’ “shoulds” so you have no free hand to pick up what you want? You can get anything you want at the Possibility Store, but there are no refunds or returns. Choose what you want carefully but don’t be afraid to try some unfamiliar items on to see how they fit. Experiment and try before you buy.

Everyday we are shopping at the Possibility Store and don’t even realize it. Regrettably,  we often allow other people to write out our life’s shopping list for us and then complain that we didn’t get what we want. Other times, we don’t want to invest the time, effort or resources to get what we want, so we settle for dissatisfaction and frustration instead.

Your Ideal Life Is Waiting On You

You stand a much better chance of getting what you want by knowing what you want. Your ideal life is waiting on you to decide how you desire to answer the question of your lifetime…”What do you want most in life?”

Welcome to the Possibility Store.  Is it time to shop for your ideal life?

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