Let’s be honest—we all experience stress. We all experience problems. Some big, some not so big.

The big stuff:

  • A health issue that won’t go away. You’re still waiting test results.
  • That huge debt that’s keeping you tossing and turning at night. You wake up exhausted.
  • That relationship! What to do? It’s been on the skids for years. You need to make a decision soon.
  • That friend/partner/family member who is drinking again.
  • The recent presidential election. (Do we want to go there?)

Then there are the little niggly things that bug you:

  • The noisy neighbor. The loud music.
  • The barking dog.
  • The new person in your group that talks too much and is spoiling it for all of you.
  • That relative with totally different political views that just drive you crazy.

Whatever it is, stress and worry from problems can steal your energy and leave you feeling emotionally hung over.

Let’s face it—even if this problem goes away, another will soon take its place. That’s life.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to deal with problems like these that dissolves the stress—even if it doesn’t necessarily dissolve the problem?

A way to handle all stress, no matter what the source, that gives you a new point of view, a philosophy, a new way of looking at it that gives a sense of perspective?

Something, anything, that helps you cope? Feel more peaceful?

Good news! There is an emotional rescue remedy. I call it my Meta Stress Manager.

Let me share.

I first came across this set of 3 questions years ago, in the 90s, when I was a business trainer and this meme was making the rounds in training circles.

I remember going all cold with the ‘aha’ moment I experienced— as I was simultaneously overcome with jealousy that I hadn’t thought of it first.

It was simple, easy to remember—at the same time profound. It has its roots in Buddhist thought, at least according to Buddhist legend.

Here was something I could actually use—not just something that sounded clever.

Here was something I could remember easily when I needed it—not something complicated with lots of steps and phrases that needed memorizing.

And definitely this was something that could help me with almost every problem I had. A true ‘meta’ solution, kind of like an umbrella over all the stuff in my life causing stress and worry.

Here we go.

The very next time you are feeling anxiety, stress, worry or experiencing something disturbing, ask yourself:

  • Can I change it?


  1. Can I accept it?


  1. Can I walk away from it?


Clue: You are working to find a yes somewhere in these 3 otherwise you’re in for trouble. Expect to explode shortly.

Let’s look at this more closely.

  • If you can change it, then take action. If you can’t act at this moment, then make a plan for action. Then let go of the stress. You are doing your best. Action is the absolute best stress reliever. Go on that march. Write that Senator.
  • If you really cannot change it, and there is nothing more you can do to affect the situation, can you learn to accept it or resign yourself to it? Can you learn to live with it? If so, surrender to reality. You can’t change those election results. You can’t live that person’s life for them. Accept what is, and then drop the stress. Drop it now—it’s not serving any purpose.
  • If no to both of these then the third option is —can you simply walk away from it? Get out, break off the relationship, move away, change jobs. You know that relationship is never going to work. You know you’ll never be happy living in Kansas. You can’t live with someone who is mentally ill if they won’t get treatment without destroying your own life.

So walk away. You can’t change it and it will never be acceptable to you. It’s ok; you’re not a selfish monster, just realistic. You can always move to the Antarctic.

This is your first port of call when experiencing stress.

Figure out what works for you. You can work with one, two, or all three.

If you can do all 3, then so much the better.

For instance, you can remove yourself from a nasty situation, and try your best to change it from a distance, at the same time accepting the reality of what is and feeling OK with it.

You may not be able to walk away from that health problem, but you can work to change it and accept what is at the same time.

You may not be able to walk away from that election result, (unless you unplug and become a hermit), but you can take what action you can, and accept what is, in the meantime.

This tool works for all kinds of issues and problems. It gives you a reframe, and a way to let go of the stress.

You don’t have to like it, but if there is nothing you can do, you don’t have to let it ruin your life either.

The key is to let go of the worry and stress. That will free you up to take effective action.

Try the Meta Stress Manager. I wish I had made it up. Really. I’d be a millionaire. It will help you. And it’s so easy.

Now stay tuned for how to deal with those problems that just won’t go away. You’ve done the Meta Stress Manager, and decided you want to take action or get used to it, but you’ve still got the issue to deal with.

I really love this—The Surrender Experiment