Your stress about others is a reaction and not a solution

Other people

A lot of stress we have is about others and how they live their lives.  We react to:

  • others smoking, drinking or other destructive behavior
  • their work flow (or what seems to us as lack of)
  • how they drive
  • what they eat
  • how they do almost anything

It’s a hard thing to separate ourselves from the choices of others.  Don’t they know it’s unhealthy, inefficient, dangerous, etc?   It’s even harder when it’s about the people we love.  We often become co-dependent on the problems of others and integrate the consequences of their lives into our own psyche, thoughts and levels of stress.

Not falling into their trap

You being stressed out about somebody else is not helping you or them.   You are taking on actions that are out of your control.  When they smoke, you stress.  When they drink, you stress.  Whey they procrastinate, they stress.  Their actions are about them and not you.  But what is about you is your level of stress.  What you need to do is move away from reaction with stress to forming a solution that results in change.   The change that you need to focus on is you being OK with what they do.  They might change and that is great.  They might not change, and that has to be OK as well.  You need to separate yourself from their actions.

What would it take to:

  • admit to yourself that you’ve done all  you can to stop a person from smoking or drinking
  • have a constructive conversation with that person about what you see as harmful to them and you
  • come to terms with the fact that they might not change
  • see that despite not agreeing how that person works, they always get it done.
  • stop freaking out or obsessing over how that person is driving.
  • let go of trying to change the eating habits of that person
  • allow that person to be a grown up and deal with their own consequences

This is not giving up on that person, but it’s admitting reality to yourself.  Your influence only goes so far and if it’s not being received, then it’s time to start showing yourself some compassion and let go of you being dependent on what others do.  They have a choice to continue that behavior or to stop it.

But you also have a choice  and what you are currently doing is obviously not working.  You’re stressed and they’ve not stopped.  It might be time to re-examine those lines of where you end and they start.  It might be time for  new tactic.  It might be time to start with solutions and give up your stress.


Ask yourself if on that issue you’re struggling with have you blurred the line of where you end and they start?  What would it take for you to reclaim that boundary?  What would it take to move past the stress and into a solution?

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3 thoughts on “Your stress about others is a reaction and not a solution”

  1. I really like this post, Craig.

    Whenever we allow our feelings to be determined by the actions of others, we lose control.  This external locust of control is often sited as a key cause of unhappiness. 

    In my experience, our emotional well-being is too important to leave it to outside factors.  It’s also a lot easier for us to come to terms with outside factors, rather than try and change the world to suit our own needs.

    Thanks for making me think about this, Craig.

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