You'll be a lot less frustrated if you have unconscious acceptance when regulating frustrating emotion, and have little cognitive deficit but better mood stability.

That is the psychology version of 'go with the flow' because 'stuff happens'. It's adaptive coping and the development of a healthy personality. 

Life is full of problems, be they in relationships, work or goals. It's certainly not wise to be passive and wait for things to happen to you but any time goals are pursued, there will be setback and frustration. Coping with frustration effectively is where some people have issues.

A new study used a difficult arithmetic task paired with feedback to induce frustrating emotion. The results confirmed that conscious, effortful acceptance of frustrating emotion resulted in a short-term reduction of positive affects, a typical symptom of state depression; though this strategy decreased frustration-related physiological costs in heartbeats. However, these side effects were eliminated, when this intervention was realized by unconsciously priming subjects with the acceptance attitude. To induce unconscious acceptance, subjects were asked to select four out of five words, one of which is semantically related to "acceptance", to make up a proper sentence. After this, performing the frustrating task was associated with significantly reduced physiological costs but little reduction of positive affects, though no explicit action was taken.


An acceptance strategy encourages people to adopt an accepting, observing, non-judgmental attitude to frustrating emotions, rather than trying to avoid or modify them - it may intensify immediate unpleasant feelings but it has benefits for long-term health. Also, exercising acceptance entails dropping our natural, instinctual responses to frustration, but instead learning to accept whatever we experience. Obviously, this process is psychologically costly. 

These findings suggest that unconscious formation of accepting attitude may work better than conscious acceptance to reduce frustrating emotional responses. " A possible explanation is that unconsciously formed accepting attitude serves as a stable background, reducing frustration from the very beginning it happens; whereas instructed conscious acceptance works only if unpleasant emotion is saliently experienced. This explanation needs to be directly examined in a future study, of course." Said Yuan.

"These results may have implication for early education of frustration coping. Teaching kids to accept frustration when emotional consequences arise, is not as good as parents setting good examples of accepting whatever frustration in everyday life. This is unconscious priming" Said Dr. Yang, an co-author of this study.

Citation: Yuan J J, Ding N X, Liu Y Y,&Yang J M. Emotion regulation effects of unconscious acceptance during a frustrating situation: behavioral and physiological correlates. Scientia Sinica Vitae, 2015, 45: 84-95