Analyzing Stress and Control Issues

November 15, 2008

I am a naturally very lucky person. For the most part, the stars seem to shine on me with the things that get handed to me on a silver platter and with the opportunities that I am presented with- with some things I’ll work very hard to get to where I want to be, but the point is that I was given the opportunity to have the chance to work hard for it, and for that I am eternally grateful.

The problem with being lucky is that every so often, the “stars” seem to realize that this is not entirely fair. So they like to throw a wrench in my plans. Just for kicks.

That’s what happened today. It was shaping up to be a busy and crazy weekend anyways, but then, yesterday, my computer went odd. Malfunctioned? I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, the desktop went funny and I thought that I might have lost all my work (thank goodness for Google Documents that most stuff is saved on the Internet!). I also was unable to open up the Internet, which was frustrating to say the least.

Even so, I have the computer at work and my sister has a computer at home that I could use in a pinch, so I wasn’t too concerned. However, last night I went to see the new James Bond movie (side note: it was awesome. I love James Bond), and it wasn’t until I was nearly back home that I realized my wallet was no longer on me. We drove back to the theater, pounded on the doors until they unlocked them for us, and searched for it. It wasn’t there, so I left a description of it and we drove back to my place. About a block from my apartment I realized I no longer had my keys on me, either, and must have left them at the theater when I was writing down the description of my wallet (apparently I need to screw my head on a little tighter). Luckily my sister was at home and able to let me in.

I spent much of today going back and forth trying to find my wallet and keys, only to come to the conclusion that either my wallet fell out of my pocket and someone found and kept it, or someone outright pick pocketed me. So I had to cancel my credit card and then get some new keys cut. Of course, losing my Internet, wallet, and keys wasn’t quite enough bad luck for one day (either that, or when one thing goes wrong, suddenly all the other little things that go wrong seem much more noticeable…), so on my walk back from getting the keys cut my nose began bleeding. And then when I tried to report my missing wallet to the police center, I learned that that particular center is now shut down.

It was about a half hour into my walk that I began to really calm down and became interested in analyzing the various stages of stress that I had gone through. Any stressful situation is an interesting psychological analysis, and the best time to do such an analysis is when you are experiencing it right then. So I looked at how I had reacted throughout this whole business.

1. Loss of Internet: feel anxious and slightly annoyed, but aware that this is a problem that can be sorted out (thank goodness for people in my life with computer skills!)
2. Loss of wallet: outwardly lighthearted with friends, inwardly freaking out.
3. Loss of keys: outwardly lighthearted, inwardly cursing myself. As soon as I get home, begin to cry before going to bed. This morning, I wake up and make a blueberry lemon loaf, clean the kitchen, and clean the bathroom to distract myself from the current problem and to stop thinking about my dream in which I find that my wallet was in my purse all along (I hate waking up from dreams like that).
4. Go to the movie theater to ask if the wallet has been found, only to find that it hasn’t, and somehow no one saw my keys either: I leave another description of the wallet and am much more outwardly frazzled and close to tears. Return home, slam my hand against a door, exercise my lungs a bit, and throw myself angrily on my bed (I found my bed to be more forgiving than the door). Eat chocolate chip cookie dough and discover that my Internet is magically back, the desktop is back to normal and none of my work has been lost. Hurrah! (Eat more cookie dough in celebration).
5. Go back to movie theater to check inside the theater to see if wallet got wedged between seats: it hasn’t been, and when I get someone to check the office again they still can’t find anything, and assure me that they have my description so I don’t need to leave it a third time. Am not having very good control over my emotions publicly anymore.
6. Get keys cut: I feel so good that something went right that I am able to calm myself down a bit, and reflect that the worst that has happened is that I lost my birthday present (a gift card for a bookstore) and the $60 cash (aka 5 hours of work- damn that’s annoying when you look at it that way!) that was in my wallet. The credit card, debit card, and all the other cards can be replaced without me losing out too much (if my wallet was stolen, they thankfully didn’t use my credit card before I canceled it); getting another student card, drivers license, and health card will be a hassle but its doable.
7. Nose starts bleeding: think to myself, come on, seriously? and am more amused than anything else at this point.
8. Get to police station and see that it’s closed: almost start to cry again. Instead come home, eat some cookie dough, and sit down to write.

Ultimately, from this I’ve learned that a) doors really are solid and don’t like it when you hit them; b) indulging in cookie dough is a good thing every once in a while. I hadn’t had it in a long time and if I was going to have it at some point, today was definitely the day for it. It didn’t make my teeth feel great, but it sure tasted good and I enjoyed every bite of it. And I’m sure I’ll continue enjoying it as the evening continues, though I expect my stomach will be almost as irritated with me as my teeth currently are; c) walking is absolutely the best thing that I can do when I start to get stressed; d) sometimes I need a good stressful event to make me a little more productive (ie. cleaning and baking).

If someone told me while I was in one of the earlier stages of this course of events that I should analyze my emotions and thoughts as the situation unfolded, I’d probably… “politely express my distaste for their advice”. Even so, I’ve found that this analyzation really did calm me down, and I really would recommend you try doing it the next time you find yourself stressed out and dealing with plain bad luck. It’s a useful thing to do because it gives you something to focus on that isn’t exactly the problem itself, and it also helps you to deal with the problem by understanding your own emotions. I believe that there is a place for those instant feel-goods (cookie dough), as long as they are then followed by the more longer lasting feel-goods (walking and writing).

I think what really bothered me was the lack of control I had over the situation. While the keys were my own fault for losing, I don’t honestly know how I could have lost my wallet. And suddenly having absolutely no access to any money is rather alarming. I borrowed some money so that I could get the keys cut and to just have some cash on hand until I get another debit card, but I really dislike knowing that I need to rely on someone else for their help. In the case of someone giving something just because, I don’t mind that at all. It’s when I really do need help and need to rely on someone else to provide for me that I feel uncomfortable; accepting generosity and gifts is one thing but needing help is another. I’m no longer in control of the situation, and I dislike that.

And that, I believe, is what led me to analyze my emotions. Because only through understanding them was I able to regain control over them. To regain control over the only thing that I really could have control over at that point.

I clearly have some control issues, but I am not exactly sure if it is precisely a negative thing or not, and I am also rather at a loss with how I should try to solve these issues if they are in fact negative. I would love to hear any advice you have at all on the subject!

Also, what do you all think about analyzing your emotions? Does it help you to deal with stress? Come to that, how do you deal with stress?

PS If you made it this far, thank you for reading.


  1. First off, all I can say is: “Wow”. You definitely went through a rough patch – with all those events happening, I would have broken down to a crazy mad woman. But you definitely came out on top. Definitely something you should be proud of. I’m glad you have found that walking is helpful. It helps me too – being outside, and just me and my thoughts. It is soothing, and lets me just think about everything slowly without any worry.

    And I am terribly sorry to hear that so much did happen to you though. But I am so happy to hear that you are able to rationalize everything – things are attainable, canceling credit cards, etc. Really Sagan, I am so happy to hear that you really came out of this chaotic situation on top! You’re really something! I’m so proud of you. How you analyze your emotions seemed to work well! Definitely going to learn from you!

    I wish you all the best in obtaining all the items from your wallet. Sagan, really, I cannot express how amazed I am at how you dealt with the situation so well!

  2. Sagan, I feel for you! It never rains, but it pours!
    This kind of thing happens to me when I am multi tasking too much. It is an overload on the body!
    It is a good thing that you canceled all the credit cards etc…
    I normally run every morning and I find that this clears away all the unhealthy stuff, Have you ever just tried to meditate? Even 30 mins. at night in a quiet place rejuvenates the soul ready to take on the next day….

  3. You might want to consider getting the locks, changed, too. If someone from the theater found your keys, and they have your contact information….. I’m just sayin’…

    Sounds to me like you coped very well, all things considered.

    I lost my keys once – car, house, office – it was horrible! Couldn’t get into my house, my dog was locked in his crate for hours while I tried to get a ride home (was way out in the country) …only to realize when I got there, I couldn’t get into my house. Had to get another ride to my dad’s house (on the other side of town) to get the spare key that I had left there (thank heavens!) It was very stressful, so I can totally relate!

  4. Yikes! I agree with Bag Lady. I had the same thought process. Get your locks changed to be on the safe side!

    As for stress. It’s always around. That I know! As for the best way to handle it, oh I have been asking that one for ages. No best answer here yet! I think it’s great you can analyze it. I do this too and I think it helps. Shows that atleast your conscience about what is happening to you. Instead of just going through the motions. Good luck with getting things straightened out!

  5. For me, sometimes analyzing my emotions makes me MORE stressed out. Frankly, I think you dealt with it all very well. If I had been in your shoes, I definitely would have needed a beer (or in your case, cookie dough) after all of that. Perfectly healthy response, IMHO.

  6. It’s never just one thing is it?? You poor thing, those days are just awful. You did brilliantly to regain control of a situation that was entirely out of your control. Analysing stress triggers and your reaction to them is a CBT technique I’ve used before, although I have often found it hard to calm down enough to do it at all.

    Sometimes just KNOWING that you have certain things in your arsenal (walking, writing) to keep you steady is enough to ward off stress.

    TA x

  7. Oh my word!!!

  8. chiming in late with the LOCK CHANGE as well.

    man. you werent exaggerating when you commented about the rough day.



  9. Sharon- that’s really sweet. And there’s just something SO soothing about being outside alone with your thoughts, isn’t there?

    Nazarina- that’s a good idea. I need to start doing yoga/pilates again…

    Bag Lady- ack, that would be awful! Luckily enough my contact information is still for my parents place, and because I lost my wallet and keys separately I don’t think that anyone would have both of them, anyways.

    Twix- thanks for reading! And there’s certainly something to be said for being more aware about whats going on… it helps you cope.

    Monica- hehe yes, I very much considered going for a cocktail. But then I got a sugar headache from all the cookie dough so I figured it might be a bad idea to contribute to it…

    TA- yep. It’s good to figure out what things you need to calm yourself down before you get into situations like these!

    Rebecca- I was thinking the same thing, albeit in slightly stronger terms:)

    Mizfit- thanks! Can’t be lucky all the time…

  10. Seriously – that is one of the worst days I’ve heard in a long time! I think you were amazingly level-headed despite all the emotions running amok. I’m glad you were able to get all your credit cards and things canceled before someone used them! Have you put a freeze on your credit, to protect against ID theft? (You can always remove it later)

    Really though, my fave line of your post was this: “I was given the opportunity to have the chance to work hard for it, and for that I am eternally grateful.” I love that you think this way!

  11. ugh – what a horrid day. I am so sorry all of this crap happened. I perpetually lose things, as I tend to have my head in the clouds and don’t pay attention, so forgetting my keys while checking for a lost wallet is right up my alley. if it make u feel any better, i’d have been inwardly AND outwardlly freaking out.

  12. Gosh!! What a day! Your stars were out of sorts, all right. So Sorry!!

    Everyone has, “control issues.” The fact that you directed your energy into fixing things was fabulous! Could you come by and help me straighten out my life when you have a few to spare, please 🙂

  13. Wow, you had quite the day! I think you handled it very well, all things considered. I think that writing it down will probably be a source of comfort to you later on…something you can look back on and laugh about.

    My craziest day on file? Too long to list everything, but highlights include losing several things (including my marriage license), getting lost on my way to the DMV, the husband’s hard drive dying, sister-in-law’s car being totalled, mom and sister getting caught a terrible storm with downed powerlines and racing fireballs, and and cutting my hand open in an immersion blender. Looking back on that day now, I just laugh.

  14. Ouch! Lots of stress-y stuff going on. I’m impressed that you handled it so well.

    I don’t think I analyze my emotions so much, but try to focus on the stressor and what, if anything, I’m doing to fuel it. A few weeks ago, I had a similar spread of stress events going on, and with each one, I asked myself (out loud, even): what can I do to control it? With each of them, the overall answer was ‘nothing’, but there were bits and pieces of things I could do that would make each of them more bearable. It works for me, for some reason.

    (P.S., add me to the Change Your Locks Committee–I can do refreshments at our next meeting. *G*)

  15. Sagan, I feel your pain! I’ve only just managed to sort my life out after losing / having stolen my purse. That feeling of needing to rely on peopl was one of the worst things about it – I didn’t even like lending money from Dr D!

    I hope you regain you calm soon!

    CP x

  16. That’s strange. My computer died this weekend too. I had to re-install windows and lost all of my documents.

    Just a reminder. Save your data.

  17. Oh my goodness! That seriously sounds like a movie or TV episode. I’ve had days (not as serious as yours) where it’s one thing after another…and it actually becomes almost humorous to me after awhile. I probably look like one of those crazy people who just starts laughing by themselves for no reason. 😉

    I SO need to be better about dealing with stress. 😦 I like your idea of analyzing your emotions. I think sometimes I just feel emotions for whatever reason, and don’t stop to analyze them – I just use other outlets (usually unhealthy habits related to eating).

    And yay for cookie dough!

  18. Charlotte- I was so relieved when I found out that no one had used my credit card… that would have been awful!

    Leslie- hehe I have my head in the clouds far too often too. Need to start focusing more!

    Dr. J- thanks for your thoughts on it! There’s a fine line between having control over your control and not having control over it… if that makes any sense…

    Blueberryhil- wow that’s intense! And knowing that you’re going to look back and laugh is definitely a very comforting thought.

    Cammy- mm, refreshments:) That’s a great way to deal with the stress. It’s good to figure out what you can do stuff about and what you can’t.

    CP- thanks! Its no fun when these things happen, is it?

    Tim- no kidding. Computers in general are so touchy.

    Holly- cookie dough love! I’m one of those crazy people too, once things pile up. Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh.

  19. Wow! What a weekend…I also would have a huge problem with the being out of control aspect of such a craptastic weekend. I feel if I do my part to set things right, the universe should help me with the rest!

  20. checking back in on you.

    hope your monday is going smoooooooooothly and filled with calm.

  21. You are such a strong person. Identifying the challenge is the first step…taking control now. Thanks for sharing!

  22. aw sorry about all the stress. I seem to work the same way: everything pretty much always going swimmingly but wyhen it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. and it does almost get comical towards the end thinking “what else could happen!” but if you think it about it- this week can only get better!

    Kelly Turner

  23. Missicat- yes! Just have to hope that the universe agrees:)

    Miz- thanks:) am feeling better today.

    Mark- trouble with the first step is then the question of, “okay, what’s next?” hehe.

    Kelly- this is true. At least it does get to the point where it can be funny!

  24. What a rotten turn of events! What do I do when I get stressed?? Honestly, I used to get really overly stressed, but I made a pact with myself last year that I would try to cut out my stress and so far it’s really worked! Now when i get stressed I usually take a walk to collect my thoughts and think about things logically. I allow myself to think of the worst possible outcome and accept that that may be the case. Once I can feel calm about that because it is probably not the end of the world, I try to focus on my breathing and think of a bunch of things that are positive about me and my life. Once I’m in a better frame of mind I’m then able to sort through the problem better – in your case this would be the point where I would cancel my cards and go to the locksmith.

    The first thing I always want to do is cry or let myself freak out, but by not letting myself get upset in the first place, everything becomes way easier to deal with. Also cocktails/wine sound awesome at this point too, but I know if I’m stressed and have a drink it will just make me feel worse and more upset so I generally hold off on that. Until the problem is resolved so that I can celebrate. 😉

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