Do you create your own stress?

“I hate my mailman!” my friend exclaimed.


“Because I was expecting an important package and he just left me a notice in my mailbox. In fact, I saw him earlier in the day in another part of the condo complex.”

My friend lives on the fourth floor of a condo building with a communal mailbox station on the first floor. There is no office for deliveries to be left.

“Did you expect him to deliver it to your door?”


“Has he delivered to your or your neighbors’ doors in the past?”


So my friend expected someone to do his job differently than he’d ever done it because the package was important to her. And since she’d seen him earlier she had the opportunity to discuss picking up her package from him, but she didn’t take the time to do so.

And now she’s upset. At him. Not at herself for not ensuring she’d receive the package that day.

I see a lot of this. Someone causes themselves upset — ruining their own day and raising their blood pressure — because they didn’t do a simple step that would ensure the outcome they desired. It would have been easy to leave the mailman a note a few days before expecting the package asking how she could get delivery of the package that day. She could have called the Post Office a few days before and spoken to the carrier or the Postmaster asking the best way to get the package she was expecting.

She was expecting the mailman to do something he likely would not think to do — deliver the package to her fourth-floor condo. In fact, he may not be allowed to deliver packages to doors in large condo units as it would certainly slow down his delivery schedule.

Do you find yourself getting angry at things you could control but don’t? Do you get upset at traffic making you late, when if you’d looked at the traffic on Google maps as you were lingering over coffee, you’d have seen you should leave early?

Do you get upset when you arrive at the dry cleaners to get that important article before the big New Year’s Eve party only to discover they’ve closed early for the holiday? You could have inquired about their schedule when you dropped off your clothing or called a few days ahead to ensure they’d be open.

Do you get enraged when your colleague hasn’t responded to your email asking for critical info you need for your presentation tomorrow, even though it’s been scheduled for weeks? If you’d talked to her earlier, you’d have learned she was going to be on vacation this week and you could have made arrangements to get the info earlier.

These are but a few examples I’ve witnessed of people becoming infuriated at others when it was really their own fault they didn’t get what they wanted.

Of course, we can’t anticipate every hiccup that occurs. The traffic may be stopped due to an accident that happened after you checked Google maps. The dry cleaners may be closed on a normal day because of an emergency. Your colleague may be out sick after you checked with her about getting the info you needed.

But if you find yourself getting angry at others — some for merely doing their jobs — ask yourself what you could have done to not be caught short. My experience is 90 to 95% of the time, you could have done something to not have a negative outcome. So instead of blaming others, you need to blame yourself. And you need to manage your life proactively to have fewer upsets.

How could you more proactively live your life to avoid stressors?

2 thoughts on “Do you create your own stress?”

  1. Rebecca,
    One way to live my life my proactively is to have a plan. As we end the football season, I watch the coaches on the sidelines and many have
    huge cards they hold with all their plays on them. The coach has thought ahead of the different situations and has written down ahead of time what he plans to do in that situation during the game. I need to plan ahead more so life’s speed bumps do not stress me out.
    Mike Gouveia

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