Wendy's Blog

Or “How To Get Through a Frustrating Situation Without Slapping Anyone”

How Flexible Do YOU Need to Be?

Men are using a concrete drill in the space below my office.  Actually, the space right below my desk.  This unwelcome surprise has been deafening for about three hours now. I finally took a deep breath, went down there and sweetly asked “How much longer will this be?” The incredibly nice man in charge said, “Maybe about two hours, but if you need us to be quiet, we can use chisels instead.”  I said I’d just take my laptop and work remotely. His kind offer surprised me.

So now I’m sitting peacefully in my favorite hangout cafe, mooching their internet in return for the price of a glass of iced tea and half a croissant.  And I’m thinking about…ANGER & ANNOYANCE.  There are days when all of us are pressured, pressurized, annoyed with life, overwhelmed, irritable, thwarted, frustrated or just extremely busy.  I didn’t want to take time to reorganize my whole day to accommodate men with drills. Are there times when you just can’t cope with one more hassle?

Or is it that we don’t choose to do so?

Or that our over-reaction to a trifle is really just a SYMPTOM of a larger matter?

When our own lives aren’t going the way we wish, the temptation is strong to over-react (with anger, sadness or fear) to relatively unimportant stimuli in our environments.  A therapist once told me “The way you know you have an unresolved issue is when you have a Level Ten reaction to a Level Two stimulus.”  It’s not pretty, but it happens.


 When  I feel my body reacting to something in a way I don’t like, I ask myself, “Is this worth getting upset over?”  Usually, no.


If I still feel a negative emotion, I ask myself, “Is it in my power to fix this?”  Usually, no.  I can’t really make traffic flow at a speed I prefer, for instance.


 If I’m STILL feeling put out by what’s happening, I consciously remind myself to stay in the Present Moment.  (Easier said than done, I know!)  If I can’t fix it or change it, how can I adapt in a healthy way? What alternatives do  I have to make this as pleasant as possible? My choice in this instance was to come to the coffee shop. It’s not ideal for work, but it’s acceptable and was the best of my available options.  A famous motivational speaker talks about returning two dozen phone calls from his Jacuzzi – that makes it a lot more fun.

When we are coping with Significant Life Issues – grief, loss, divorce, fear – it’s even easier to “take it out” on the people and circumstances around us.

You probably already do some or all of these self-soothing things, too, to keep yourself from doing or saying things that won’t get you where you want to go, but a reminder never hurts.

P. S.

When I got back to the office two hours later, not only were they still working (and said “Just two more hours” again) but their truck was parked in my space. Testing ourselves with the question “How flexible can I be?” makes it into a game and diffuses the stress.

Would you like a copy of Wendy Keller’s FREE ebook

“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”?






  1. This is a great reminder in our everyday busy life! Wendy, what if the person whom you are being nice and polite to doesnt appreciate your consideration and takes it for granted? Eg. Instead of saying “we will take 2 hours”, the person ends up taking his/her own time…how would you manage, control your frustration and be patient knowing the situation is being taken for granted? we live in a society where we are judged by our personal decisions….and I find myself often caught in between! If I show consideration, people do not always appreciate…yet if I put my foot down and (try to!) be confident with my decisions, I get told that I am inflexible, unfriendly and too bossy.

    Catch-22, I have to say 🙂

    • Ally,

      I’m going to assume your question is not rhetorical. Therefore, here’s my advice to you SOLELY based on the fact that you’re female: PUT YOUR DARN FOOT DOWN! Most women are so busy being nice they don’t realize they’re being taken advantage of. I read recently (forgot where or I’d add the link or the magazine’s name) that women get paid less because they don’t ask. They interviewed some boss and he said, “Not once in my 33 years has a woman EVER come to me and asked for a raise.” As a boss myself for 23 years, I can say that the only times I’ve EVER been asked for a raise, both were men!! And as it so happens, I’ve only employed five men in my career so far.

      Practice being NOT compassionate and NOT patient for a month and see what happens. By going to the other extreme and practicing for a little while, you’ll find your new natural balance.

      Good luck with that!


  2. Hi Wendy

    I was thinking the same thing as Ally.
    Thank you for the suggestion. I’m going to give it a go and see where it gets me.
    Thanks again. An interesting read!

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