I sat at the staff meeting listening to a social worker talk about a client who was very upset because the elevator in her subsidized apartment complex was too far from her door - and I marveled. Not only had the client invested a lot of energy in being upset about this, but the social worker had bought into it and had now upset herself about it. Then, she brought it to the staff meeting and worried 17 other people about it. What's wrong with this picture?

Perhaps I should first explain that subsidized housing is assigned housing. You may wait a year on a list for a housing assignment. When your number comes up, you take whatever they have available. Choosing to move to another apartment isn't an option. And the client was not disabled, she just wanted the elevator to be more convenient. So what was wrong with this situation?

It isn't based in reality. The elevator cannot be moved. The assignment cannot be changed. She can either accept the housing assignment or move back to the homeless shelter. So working herself into a frenzy about something that cannot be changed only made her miserable. When the social worker bought into this (instead of helping her figure out how to deal it) she then made herself miserable about something that could not be changed. She then brought it to the meeting where 17 other people decided to worry about the situation which could not be changed.

Why do I bring this up? Because I see people do this all the time. They are incensed about things which are not fair, or shouldn't be happening, or aren't right. They use up tons of emotional energy and burn away their peace of mind fretting about how they want things to be rather than dealing with how they actually are. Expecting the world to conform to your wishes rather than taking life as it is can be very frustrating. Expecting people to change rather than accepting them as they are can be very frustrating.

So when you find yourself getting riled up about something, listen to what you are saying about it. Words like "should", "shouldn't", "right" and "fair" might tip you that you are expecting life to be other than it is and setting yourself up to be frustrated, annoyed even infuriated. Here are some examples.

"He shouldn't do that to me." But he does. What are you going to do about it?

"It's just not fair." You're right. It isn't. Who said it would be?

"She should be more responsible." But she isn't.

Identify when you are creating expectations that aren't realistic and then do a reality check. You can deal with reality. You can make choices about how to react to reality and making choices keeps you from feeling helpless and frustrated. Let's look.

She isn't more responsible. So what do you do now? Cover for her? Fire her? Double check her work? Now you have something to which you can actually react. You can't change her. You can only control your response to her. That you can do. And being able to actually do something reduces stress, tension and anger.

I see this a lot with road rage.

"It shouldn't take this long to get there."

But it does take this long. Now what? Rant and fume in your car? Will that make traffic go any faster? No. What could you do? Adapt to the reality that it does take this long. Bring language tapes and learn another language while sitting in traffic. Start taking public transit so you can catch up on your reading instead of sitting and fuming. Take a different route. Go at a different time. Now you have choices. Now you have something over which you have control. You can do all of these things. The one thing you absolutely cannot do is change the flow of the traffic. So fuming about it just gets you all worked up and accomplishes nothing.

Checking those expectations and taking life on it's own terms can lead to a lot more peaceful existence and a lot less stress. Let go of the way you think things should be. Let go of how you think people should act. Take them as they are - and focus on what you can do to deal with that. That is real. That you can do.

You can read more about mental health issues at my blog: www.kellevision.com .

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.