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  • Writer's pictureA D Ackerman

What else I know about you--confusion, fear, frustration, and failure

In my last post, I told you I knew that you were unique, powerful, complex, and exquisitely beautiful. But that is not all that I know about you. I know that there are times when those marvelous attributes are not visible--to you nor to those around you.

I know that you are sometimes confused, scared, frustrated, and at times you feel like an absolute failure. How do I know this? Because there are times when I feel those emotions, too.

Let's explore some of those emotions and then discuss how you can be more powerful and able to overcome their impact on you, your life, your loved ones, your present, and your future.

Small toddler in a red jacket wearing adult sneakers and looking confused
Copyright © AD Ackerman, 2023, All Rights Reserved


Like the toddler in the image above, we sometimes feel confused. Perhaps we are trying to wear shoes that are too large for our feet. Or, we are not sure why the shoes we are wearing do not feel "just right." Maybe we are tripping over our own feet.

Perhaps you just started a new job. Perhaps you have undergone a transition in your life: graduated from college, lost a loved one, retired from the only work you have known for decades. Yes, confusion comes upon us at many different times and for many different reasons.

Confusion suggests a lack of clarity. Your brain does not know exactly what to do under the current circumstances. So that suggests you can ameliorate confusion by gaining clarity. But how?

A black bear at the side of a road in autumn, which could cause fear
Copyright © AD Ackerman, 2023, All rights reserved


Are you afraid of this black bear? Would you be afraid if you came upon it while out for a walk in the woods? Would it matter if you were alone or if there were others with you? When I came upon this bear, I felt gratitude that I was carrying my camera with a telephoto lens attached so I could get a "close-up" photo without actually standing too close to it.

Fear is universal but also very specific. Fear initiates our "fight, flight, or freeze" response. But if our fear is shared with others--we look around and see our friends, or even a bunch of strangers, ready to help us avoid the bear or scare it away, our fear can be ameliorated. We can settle our amygdala and start to think clearly about the options for dealing with the potential threat.

How can we optimize our response to a potentially frightening situation? How can we calm our amygdala so we act in a more productive way? How can we form bonds with those in our world so we don't feel so alone?

Ground Squirrel on the railing of a backyard deck
Copyright © Alice D Ackerman 2023, All rights reserved
Frustrated squirrel trying  unsuccessfully to get seeds from a birdfeeder
Copyright © Alice D Ackerman 2023, All rights reserved


This squirrel is intent on getting access to the seeds that are in the bird feeder. She climbed all the way up to the deck from the ground in the backyard and then jumped down from the fence onto the surface of the deck to access the feeder.

Unfortunately for the squirrel, the feeder is set so that too much downward pressure closes the access to the seeds that are inside the feeder.

Can you imagine how frustrated this squirrel must be? Can you imagine what words would be going through her mind (IF squirrels had words in their minds) relating to what she felt at this point about the individual (that would be me) who hung this feeder in such a way that its bounty was clearly visible to her, but also inaccessible?

I suspect there would be anger, frustration, and maybe even contempt. That is often how we feel when something we want and have worked toward remains out of reach: That new job title or promotion, the rejected proposal of marriage to the person we love, or the inability to buy the house of our dreams because we don't yet qualify for the mortgage we would need.

How might we overcome the impact of frustration to allow us to proceed in a more confident, calm, and composed manner?

Demolished room looking like an absolute failure
Copyright © Alice D Ackerman 2023, All rights reserved

Absolute Failure

Looking at the photo above, we see a part of a room that is a complete mess. Debris everywhere, incomplete walls, no hope of living here in any kind of comfort.

We sometimes feel as though everything we touch becomes a mess. But what we don't always realize is that in order to rebuild our lives, sometimes we have to tear down the existing niceties to reveal what is underneath, so the resulting finished product can be more of what WE want, rather than a reflection of what society expects, or what we have "put up with" for much of our lives.

How do we learn to reframe the notion of failure so that we think of it as the prelude to a more wonderful finished product that will more fully meet our needs and make us happy?

How do we make all these shifts, in order to reclaim our power, see how beautiful we are, understand our uniqueness, and acknowledge our complexity once again?
Through Self-Leadership

Self-Leadership and Emotions:

Confusion, fear, frustration, and failure

I have talked about self-leadership before, so you may think that I am a broken record. But, you see, this is something that everyone needs, few possess and something that can help you overcome most of the emotions that may be holding you back.

But first, where do these emotions come from?

Well, they come from your thoughts--mostly from thoughts in your sub-conscious.

Thoughts that arise in your subconscious do so very rapidly, and, the great majority of the time (85% or more), without our conscious awareness. These subconscious thoughts then lead to emotions, which then lead to actions.

This is how we protect ourselves from harm. Ah, but the threat is not always real. So, sometimes, we protect ourselves from imagined harm in a way that might not be productive.

The human brain has evolved to protect us from potential danger. In instances where it detects recurrent threats, it has a tendency to jump to conclusions about the nature of the potential harm and how best to respond to it in order to ensure safety. The more immediate the reaction, the more effectively one's brain believes that harm can be circumvented, even if it is perceived rather than actual. However, when individuals begin to respond to non-existent threats, the brain can induce counterproductive behavior that may, in fact, cause genuine harm to themselves or others. It is important to recognize when one's reactions may be misguided in order to prevent such harm from occurring.

By learning and practicing self-leadership, you can identify when your brain is about to react with a rash judgment, and you can stop it from making up stories that will lead to counterproductive actions.

Learning to Lead Yourself

Learning to help your brain behave itself so that you can respond appropriately to events that happen around you is relatively simple, but not easy. It takes a strong desire to do so (motivation), and it takes practice. You first need to recognize moments when you are at risk of overreacting, and then you need to learn how to find the truth of the situation and respond appropriately. Leading yourself is essential if you plan on leading others--whether that is at work, or at home.

In the next blog post, I will address each of the above issues: Confusion, fear, frustration, and failure, and show you how principles of Axiogenics and Valugenic Self-Leadership Development can help you overcome, and, indeed, avoid some of those less-than-optimal reactions.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you if you have ever experienced confusion, fear, frustration, or failure, and what you have done about it, or what you wish you had done about it.


Thanks for reading. I value your time and am honored you chose to spend the last few minutes reading this post. I hope it provided value for you. If so, I would appreciate it if you would share it with someone who might also find it of value.

I would love to hear from you. Please come find me on LinkedIn. Or send me an email at

To add more value to your life, ask yourself this question every day: What choice can I make and action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value? Then take the free VQ (value quotient) assessment to start your journey with Axiogenics, and learn how to consistently play your "A" game.


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