Being An Expert On The Problem Keeps You From Finding A Solution - Grasshopper
“I know what’s wrong with me” is a mindset that will keep you on the NO side of GO.
One of the biggest energy drains for me is being in a group of people who talk about their illnesses. No one there has done the math on that practice, or they would easily find out that it doesn’t add up. In fact, it subtracts from the quality of their health by keeping their problem stuck in their mind.
Finding problems is easy; finding the solution becomes easier when we don’t add to the difficulty. We always add to the problem when we seek even more reasons why we are the way we are. It’s my main beef with counseling. The focus of people helping, in my view, spends too much effort on the wrong side of the equation.
People helpers of all stripes (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists, et al) seem hell bent on getting more information as to how the client got to be this way. This practice helps them make their client an expert on the problem too. Most sessions are spent talking about the problem.
Solutions have a way of presenting themselves when we shift our focus off the problem. The old carpentry axiom comes into play here - measure twice, cut once. We’ve gotten into the habit of measuring so many times that we forgot where we put the saw.
How many ways are you measuring your problems?
Everybody’s got problems. Even if you don’t discuss them ad nauseam with others, you may be running them around in your head over and over again. Here’s the arithmetic on that practice: you delay your solution proportionately to the amount of time you spend discussing/thinking about the problem.
I’m not proposing a shoot from the hip, go off half-cocked strategy for finding a solution. My only intent is to point out that you won’t find a solution by staying focused on the problem.
Reminds me of a story . . .
I have a family member that no one likes. It seems every family has one of these members. This particular member of my family could talk a dog off a meat wagon by incessantly discussing how bad everything is in their life. They never come up for air and they never notice that people back away from them in droves and attempt to shift them off to another family member. More to the point, their problems never get solved.
Their solution is to find more problems, and in their quest, they become problematic not only for themselves but for anyone they encounter.
There is a two step method for solving problems:
1. Stop thinking about them.
2. Start solving them.
Step one begins by noticing our problem thoughts. When you become an observer of your thoughts rather than a participant, the thoughts weaken and don’t come around as often. When you witness thoughts as a casual observer, they begin to come unglued and flow out of your mind.
This sets the stage for step two. You become a problem solving machine when you make room in your mind for a solution to flow in. As long as you are engaging your machinery with the problem, it cannot do its job which is to find a solution.
Start small and work your way up. Is there a personal problem that you bring up all the time in conversation that has yet to be solved? (“I’m so fat” comes to mind). Vow right this minute to never talk about it again.
This accomplishes two things:
1. You unburden everyone from hearing it again.
2. You begin the process of dealing with it internally.
The internal strategy, as mentioned before, is to observe your thoughts as a bystander. By observing rather than participating, you weaken the glue on the thoughts that have a hold on you.
Solutions will flow to the void the observed thoughts leave behind.
If you think you solve your problems by continually thinking about them, I’m about to bust another old myth for you. You can have your cake and eat it too. Just observe any dog eating the cake he just threw up.
When you regurgitate the same old problems, the solution that doesn’t work is to eat them again.
All the best,
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