How To Fix Stressed Out People

My hubs was stressed out. Withdrawn & crabby isn’t his usual state, so I knew it was my job to fix it & bring him back to normal.

In my childhood, my mom was often in the same kind of mood. It looked different on her, but when she was angry, irritated, overwhelmed, or upset, I would do the same thing.

Try to fix it.

For a long time, I thought someone else’s bad mood was my fault. Especially the special people from my youth:

  • Mrs. Verzar, my beloved ballet teacher.
  • Michelle, my very best friend.
  • My Auntie Sue, whom I admired with a hard girl crush.
  • My Mema, who had my heart for all of my childhood.

I mean, everyone gets crabby. Angry. Upset. Irritated. Everyone, even my super special people.

Some got angry. Others sad. Some yelled. Some detached. Others went inward.

Clearly, my raging inability to be perfect brought on their sadness, anger, stress, or irritation.

So of course, I had to fix it.

What does this look like in real life? Chasing. Bothering. Checking in. Worrying. Over-asking. Over-helping. Over-solving.

  • “You don’t seem like yourself.”
  • “Are you okay?”
  • “Are you mad at me?”
  • “What did I do?”
  • “Tell me how I can fix it.”

The last thing a stressed-out, crabby, irritated person wants is to engage in answering these questions!

We do NOT want the people closest to us to ask, “What’s WRONG?! Oh NO!! You’re not yourself!! What did I do? Are you okay? Are you mad at me?”

‘Cuz that’s Real Frickin’ Annoying.

I learned the hard way that when someone you love, like, or care about is in a bad mood, it’s because they’re stressed out. And they do NOT want you to fix it.

Because it’s NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX IT.

Stress causes people to do a lot of things, and one of them is to be angry, irritable, short, curt, etc. Basically, stress & overwhelm put people in a bad mood.

I could write a NOVEL on why my mother was in a bad mood from 1970 – 1990! She was so damn stressed, but I couldn’t see it then. It manifested in a 20-year bad mood.

So I chased her. I wanted her to be happy. I asked her what was wrong. I tried to be perfect.

I tried to fix it FOR her. Shockingly, it didn’t help.

Is there a special someone to you who is stressed out? In a bad mood? Angry, frustrated, and hurting?

I know you care deeply. I know you want this person to be stress-free. Happy. Back to their old self, right? It will make his or her life better. It will make YOUR life better.

BUT this is not for you to fix! The harder you try, the worse it gets for you.

  • I chased my mom for years, trying to be perfect. She needed independence, time away from 4 noisy, fighting children. What she needed was not mine to give her.

  • I chased my best friend, asking, “Are you mad at me” throughout high school. I cringe to think about it. She needed space. I didn’t know enough to give that to her.

  • I’ve chased my husband when he is crabby. He’s an introvert. He needs time to be in his head. Now I know how to give that to him.

We all get stressed, irritated, crabby. We each need something different when we are in that space.

Some people need to talk about it. So you tell them, “I’m here when you want to talk.”

***It’s their job to take you up on your offer.

Some people need to NOT talk about it. So you tell them, “I’m here if you want to talk.”

***It’s their job to take you up on your offer.

Our pain comes from not trusting that other adults are grown ass people – it’s their responsibility to reach out for help to resolve their pain.



If you’re struggling with holding space for someone in pain, in stress, in dis-harmony, remember it’s not your place to fix it.

You can be there without fixing.

You can show up.

But until they ask for it, leave your toolbox at home.


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