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The Problem is Not the Problem

What is a problem for? What do you do with a problem? What do you do with a problem that seems to follow you every where you go?

Do you worry about it? Do you lose sleep over it? Do you run and hide from it –in hopes that it will one day disappear on its own?

I don’t think that anybody has ever asked for a problem to turn up in his daily life. Nobody likes having problems. Problems have a way of causing the day to become more challenging, complex, and sometimes even more dramatic than necessary.

So, what do you do with a problem? How do you make it go away?

Do you shoo it away? Do you scowl at it? Ignore it? Does that work?

Does the problem go away simply by worrying about it?

Is the problem going to sneak up and swallow you up? Is the problem going to take away all of your things?

You can worry all day about your problem. You can spend your day worrying about what could happen. What would happen. You can spend your day hiding and worrying about this and about that.

Do you ever find that the more you worry and do nothing about the problem, that it just becomes bigger and bigger?

Do you ever try to wish your problem away? Or disguise the problem? Or avoid the problem?

Do you find that the more you avoid the problem, the more you see it everywhere you go, in everything you eat? Do you dream about it? Do you notice that the more you hide from the problem, the more you think about it?

A problem sometimes seems bigger, badder and scarier than it actually is. And in order for the problem to be fixed or to go away, it has to be faced. Even though you may not want to, it needs to be tackled.

Once you come face-to-face with the problem – you may discover that it wasn’t as bad as you actually first thought it was. Even problems have something beautiful inside.

Every problem holds an opportunity – an opportunity to learn and to grow – to be brave – to do something. Some opportunities only come once in a lifetime. Every problem has an opportunity for something good. You just need to look for it.

Once there was a young father who had been looking for work. A kind older man, wanting to lend a helping hand, asked the young father to spend a few days repairing an old fence surrounding his large property.

The young father had a less than productive first day. First, his old truck broke down less than two miles from the kind older man’s home. He solved that problem by walking to his first day on the job, but was 45 minutes late. The hammer he brought to the old man’s home broke about half way through the day. And, as if things couldn’t get any worse, he twisted his ankle towards the end of the day and could barely walk.

The kind older man offered the young father a ride home. In return, the young father invited the older man into his home to meet his family. The door of the humble home was rickety and old. The paint was peeling. The young father paused before entering his home and touched a large coat hook with both of his hands.

Upon entering his home, the young father completely changed. After having been beaten down all day with problems, a big broad smile came across his face as he hugged his three small, happy children, and kissed his wife.

After the kind older man met the young father’s family, he asked what the significance was to grasping the large coat hook with both of his hands before entering his home.

The young father replied, “That’s my problem hook. I know I am going to have problems, but the one thing I never want to do is bring them home to my wife and children. So, I simply hang my problems on the hook before I enter my home. When I leave in the morning, I pick them up again.”

The young father continued, “The odd thing about it is, when I pick the problems up in the morning, they don’t seem to be as big and heavy as they were when I dropped them off the night before.”

I ask again - What are problems for?

They challenge us. They shape us. They push us. They help us to discover just how strong, brave, and capable we actually are. We never want problems to come into our lives, but they do have a way of changing us in unexpected ways.

What will you do with your next problem? Do you have a problem hook? A place where you can hang your troubles for the evening? Each of us needs a sanctuary where we can escape the rigors and stresses of the day.

My sanctuary is my home and my pups. When I have the right balance in my life, my troubles seem to lighten and my burdens seem to fade. The problem doesn’t necessarily go away, but the right balance makes it easier to cope.

Once able to find the right balance the problem can be looked at more calmly and strategically.

First, take time to acknowledge the problem, being completely honest with yourself – looking at your life, your state of mind, how you are feeling.

Next, examine the problem more closely, and brainstorm ideas on how to fix the problem. The harder the problem, the more solutions you may need. What is the goal? Research the problem and possible solutions – and then use your imagination, writing down all possible solutions. Once you have a list, pick from it the best solutions that will achieve your goal – fixing the problem.

Lastly – implement the solution. This requires planning and execution. Make a decision – Plan your strategy – Put the solution to the test. Stick to the plan. Don’t fall off track. Try not to make excuses, such as – “Just one more bite, I’ll start eating better tomorrow.”

Once the problem has been acknowledged and ways to fix the problem have been outlined, there is a feeling of empowerment. Be kind to yourself. Work to fix the problem, without sabotaging yourself with needless worry.

To know that you have successfully solved your problem is essential. Review what worked and what did not work – and what the impact of your solution was.

“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” Captain Jack Sparrow

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