There is a way of seeing problems that makes you act on fixing them
The problem with having a problem is never a problem.
What is a problem is how you think about the problem. It’s easy to focus on a never-ending stream of life’s problems. And it’s much harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The trick is to mount lights inside the tunnel and not wait until it ends.
In life, you need a perspective shift to mount those lights.
Instead of seeing a never-ending queue of problems, see the never-ending potential of:
- Challenges to face,
- Lessons to learn,
- People to meet,
- Failures to make,
- Succeses to cherish.
I’ve got partial success. This means I’m not always grumpy about living.
I know, not the greatest selling point, but I’m as real as your existential pain.
A Guide to Be Miserable
What is the problem?
a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
— oxford dictionary through google search
Seeing reality through that lens forced me to feel miserable. Life looks like a never-ending stream of problems. When you’re done with one, another one appears. Life is a change, and we can do nothing about it.
When you oppose what’s already here, you have problems.
I’m great at seeing everything as a problem.
A week ago, I got informed that the invoice I sent was wrong. So my payroll got withheld. Additionally, the error cost me money because my accountant had already closed the month.
For 6 hours, I was anxious because I didn’t get money.
Don’t get me wrong, I have funds for everything, I didn’t get paid for one month. The situation is normal, but I gave it a negative spin to spice things up to not feel too great on Monday.
This approach makes problems impossible to solve.
The twist is the negative feelings outlast the existence of the problem. Even after correcting the invoice, I felt anxious. And my crown skill, getting big fast:
I don’t deserve to be loved if I can’t even create the correct invoice.
How to focus on the problem to never solve it
The most important exercise is negative self-talk.
To make problems impossible to solve, I went through thorough training. There is no anxiety and guilt without constant repetition. What a failure you’re. So I repeat in my mind what I did wrong and how stupid I have to be to make such mistakes. Another step is never to believe advice from people who fix their shit.
The last piece of the puzzle is never to reflect upon your actions.
Together those make you circle in a loop forever. You’re stuck judging yourself instead of taking action.
The Realization Behind My Life’s Transformation
There is another way of looking at the problem:
an inquiry starting from given conditions to investigate or demonstrate a fact, result, or law.— oxford dictionary through google search
The approach above stems from science. The problem is a task to solve, a challenge.
You don’t perceive it as harmful or unwanted. It is there, already waiting for you. Whether you want it or not — it doesn’t matter.
The reasonable choice is to get your shit together and try to solve it.
You need only one assumption — problems are solvable.
The nature of your problems
The problem itself is never the problem.
It’s always the resistance to the problem. Because of our inability to foresee the future, problems are inevitable. It has exciting consequences for you. You have to face your problems. There is no other way.
Or is there?
The other way is to resist the problem. But why do we resist some problems and not others? You being hungry is a problem. You wanting to go for a walk is a problem.
For those, you focus on solutions.
But if you want to be a writer, you focus on the problem. The difference is complexity. Becoming a writer is a big, complicated task. And you don’t have one step solution at hand.
That’s where realizing problems are challenges come in.
Marcus Aurelius said:
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
And that’s what the nature of the problem is: It’s a part of your way. When you face an obstacle, it allows you to progress. And if an obstacle is big and scary, splitting it into smaller tasks, words wonder.
Make your steps as simple as fixing your hunger problem, and you’ll become a writer.
Opportunities Are Everywhere
Hardships are caused by the lack of knowledge of how to deal with them.
Each hardship is also an opportunity to learn how to deal with it. Predicting the future is impossible, yet we must be ready to face it. Problems seen as opportunities are great at teaching you how to do it.
It’s not easy, but it’s simple at its core. World works in some way. Your actions influence the world. Something is not the way you want. It’s an opportunity to change it. The problem becomes the way to a solution. If you fail to solve it, you must update your knowledge. Problems are for updating your knowledge.
It may not seem like a great discovery, but identifying problems as opportunities flipped a switch in my brain.
Not long ago, I was afraid of my thoughts. It resulted in constant inner conflict. Whenever I did something bad, I judged myself as a bad person. Instead of taking action to fix the issue, I was putting myself deeper into despair. I believed that the goal was never to have thoughts like that, never to feel fear, and never to be anxious.
My approach was unrealistic.
I had a problem, and I wanted it gone, not solved. I got enlightened when I understood that life has a never-ending stream of unique problems. I must deal with them, fast, because I don’t know what’s next. This approach has a higher success chance than sitting and complaining.
Each problem allows me to become better or worse.
Problems are potential for change. We decide how we use that potential. We can either spend it on developing ourselves or making our life harder than it already is.
Keep your chances higher. Accept that problems are inevitable but solvable, and each represents an opportunity.
On the way to greatness
Nothing happens to me.
Everything just happens. I make it personal. The weather makes me sad because I had plans and the rain ruined them. But the rain didn’t do it to ruin my plans. My girlfriend’s comments about my work angered me because I identified with my work. But my girlfriend didn’t make me angry, she said something, and I made myself angry.
We are great at making things personal, but that makes us resist problems.
But you already know problems are here to stay. What you can change is how you approach them. Instead of treating them as unwanted obstacles, treat them as possibilities.
My new life emerged from accepting what is already and always true.
Getting crazy about deadlines at work never helped me deal with them. Opposing their existence slowed my thinking about how to deliver the task. It may be impossible, but I can do my best. Then I’ll deliver everything asap. If the deadline is met — amazing — if not, I need to review its validity.
My problems, feelings, and thoughts are mine to deal with.
The way to greatness is not crowded. Because it’s a way of taking responsibility for your actions.
How to Rewire Your Brain
There are no problems, only opportunities.
If a problem is fixable if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.— Dalai Lama
Opportunity is another word for a problem. The one that defines the problem in a context of an action it requires to take. But to see the identity between them, you need to believe you can solve life’s problems.
My road was bumpy because I always fought against ideas that worked for others.
Now I know using their knowledge is a blessing. Here is what I got from them and what helped me rewire my brain to enjoy life instead of complaining about its hardships.
The key to victory is transforming ephemeral into tangible
Thoughts drive you.
They take control when you’re not aware of them. You can have thousands of them in an hour, and each can influence your mood. You have no idea why you feel how you feel. You try to escape how you feel by what society tells you to do, watching tv, news, drinking, and partying.
The transient nature of thoughts makes them dangerous.
It makes them hard to notice, so we assume we’re the thoughts. The result is we identify with the ideas we talk about and defend things outside of us.
The best tool I’ve encountered for dealing with them is journaling.
Writing down thoughts gives them structure and essence. They no longer linger around in my brain like ghosts, now they’re written down on paper, and my brain is free from them. What’s more, I can link them to another thought from before. Together they create a map of what I want and don’t want.
But the underlying idea that makes journaling useful is questions.
The questions I ask motivate me to take action:
- How can I act despite fear?
- What can I do to deal with the problem? Asking those questions in a state of acceptance that I already have a problem and want to solve it, increases my chances of solving it. I don’t waste time opposing what is already here.
Instead of letting my thoughts always control me, I do my best to watch them like a hawk. Write them like a scribe. Use them for my benefit.
Journalism is a medium for my practice.
The key is to structure your thoughts. Do it through talking about them, writing them down, or singing them under the shower. It works because problems exist in your head as thoughts. That’s why making them tangible helps. They stop being those big, impossible tasks because you give them structure. And when they have structure, it’s easier to split them into smaller chunks.
Measure the progress, not the gap
Small steps lead to great results.
Progress is leapfrog. For many months I had to work without seeing results. But then someday, something jumped into its place, and there it was — visible progress.
Try, fail, and learn to exceed the critical mass and jump forward.
On the way, when you see no progress, it’s because you focus on how long it’ll take to finish. That’s demotivating. Compare what you have now to what you had before the start. Then even creating a plan is progress.
Keep your eye on what you’ve done.
Rewiring your brain may be a long road. Split it into small segments to always know how far you’ve come.
Divide and conquer.
A problem you face is an opportunity you take.
Sure, some will blow up, and it’ll hurt. But if you think about your actions and outcomes, you can learn from them.
Nothing I know makes problems go away.
I only know how to see them and let them be. It, in turn, gives me a chance to solve them. That’s all I can promise you, a chance to solve your problems.
I promise no silver bullets, no ready-to-use solutions. Just a chance to have the life you want.
Take it or leave it.
Then rewire your brain, step by step, by observing your thoughts. Notice there is a space where they appear. Realize that seeing your thoughts means you’re not them.
Apply this idea to your problems because, in your head, they show up as thoughts.
Watch them. Structure them. Split them. Learn from them. Fix them.
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