Turning Frustration into Fuel

Charlotte Grysolle
5 min readApr 13
Photo by Uday Mittal on Unsplash

“I can’t do it. It’s too hard.”

I’ll never forget the moment, sitting at my parent’s kitchen island, feeling deflated after my first maths tutoring session for GMAT, a standardized exam required for admission to most graduate business programs globally.

A feeling of relief washed over me when my parents didn’t try to convince me to keep going, and we all agreed I wouldn’t take the test. So instead, I applied to schools that didn’t require a GMAT.

Looking back, as a young 21-year-old, I wish I’d known about neuroplasticity and the power of those feelings of frustration.

Your Brain is NOT Fixed

“I’m not good at math.”; “I’m not a creative person.”

Somewhere along the way, I picked up these labels to define what I could and could not do.

But a single paragraph from the positive psychology book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor changed everything:

We are able to rewire our brains to be more positive, creative, resilient, and productive — to see more possibility wherever we look. It’s not a question if, but how much change is possible.

I learned about the concept of neuroplasticity for the first time:

A scientifically proven fact that, as humans, unlike other species, we can rewire our brains.

This fantastic feature of our nervous system allows our brains to change in response to experiences, thoughts, and actions (for better or for worse, by the way.)

Sure, our brain’s capacity for learning and adapting to new knowledge reduces after we hit a certain age (generally around 25).

But that doesn’t mean that accessing our brain’s ability to grow and expand is impossible.

Virtually everyone who studies the brain is astounded at how plastic it is. — Kurt Fischer, Harvard Medical School

In this post, I’d like to tell you about an under-appreciated feature of neuroplasticity:

The importance of making mistakes and the feelings of frustration that arise from them.

Making Mistakes Primes Your Brain for Learning

Charlotte Grysolle

Exploring the neuroscience and psychology behind focus, motivation and mental resilience. 🤸‍♀️ More on https://www.charlottegrysolle.com/newsletter/