Problems: Love ’em or Hate ’em, We’ve All Got Them

Written by on March 27, 2017 in Accountability



Last week was a doozy; one of those low points in the roller coaster ride of life when every day brought a new problem to tackle.

Of course, being the perennial optimist that I am, I didn’t call them problems, at least not at first.

It went something like this.

Monday began with a few impressive opportunities for growth. By Tuesday the opportunities had become challenges. By Wednesday afternoon, with no let up in sight, I was officially tackling problems.

But I hung in there with dogged determination and by the end of Thursday, I was feeling pretty good about getting ahead of it all.

Friday morning I hopped over here to do some work on the website and discovered the Emotionally Resilient Living home page was showing up as nothing but a black bar with white code.

Dear life, when I said, “can my week get any worse” it was a rhetorical question, not a challenge!

A Problem By Any Other Name

No matter what you choose to call them … difficulties, troubles, opportunities, hurdles, obstacles, challenges or problems, life is full of stumbling blocks of all shapes and sizes.

In fact, as cliché as it may sound, facing up to our troubles is precisely the way we grow into the strong and confident person we are meant to be.

So maybe what we need to do then is focus on is getting really, really good at solving them, and the first step to doing that is to give some thought to our problem-solving style.

There are three basic problem-solving styles.

  • Rational: Characterized by deliberate and systematic planning.
  • Impulsive: Attempting to solve problems in a hurried way, often failing to consider the consequences of actions.
  • Avoidance: Tendency is to procrastinate or deny the existence of problems, often looking to others for solutions.

It’s likely that your personal problem-solving style includes elements of all three of these depending on the nature of the problem you’re facing and the level of potential discomfort involved.

But since the first step in solving any problem is to accept that it exists, it’s easy to see why avoidance is the style we need to concern ourselves with in this group because it can, and often does, turn a relatively minor problem into a crisis situation.

Do any of these common avoidance techniques sound familiar?

  • You tell yourself you’ll get to it as soon as you have time, but keep finding reasons (excuses) to avoid facing it.
  • You talk about your problem to anyone who will listen, but never actually do anything about it.
  • You blame others because it’s easier than taking responsibility for your own life.
  • You tell yourself it’s out of your control because living with the problem is easier than standing up for yourself.
  • You pretend it’s not a problem because you’re afraid it will make you look weak or inadequate.

For some additional insights on the importance of facing up to our problems, I’ve compiled the following collection of quotations to inspire you. Let me know if one of these rings especially true for you.

Reflections on Facing Our Problems

  • Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, and views about life. ~Carl Rogers
  • Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution. The easiest way to escape from the problem is to solve it. ~Author Unknown
  • Avoidance may seem like an easy way out of a dilemma at the time, but know that the issue will present itself again and again until it is faced, dealt with, and learned from. ~Randi Fine
  • Any day you are not facing at least one problem is a sign that you are not growing. ~Author Unknown
  • A smile doesn’t always mean a person is trouble free. Sometimes it simply means they are strong enough to face their problems. ~Author Unknown
  • We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. ~Barbra de Angelis
  • Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines. ~Robert Schuller
  • Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough. ~John Billings
  • I am so grateful for my troubles. As I reflect back on my life, I have come to realize that my greatest triumphs have been born of my greatest troubles. ~Dr. Steve Maraboli
  • Face your problems head on. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. That’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and grow. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become. ~Author Unknown
  • I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! ~Dr. Seuss
  • All of us have problems. We face them every day. How grateful I am that we have difficult things to wrestle with. They keep us young, they keep us alive, they keep us going, they keep us humble. Be grateful for your problems, and know that somehow you will find a solution. Just do the best you can, but be sure it’s your very best. ~Gordon B. Hinckley
  • We tend to be preoccupied with our problems when we have a heightened sense of vulnerability and a diminished sense of power. Today, try to see each problem as an invitation to grow stronger. ~Author Unknown
  • We repeat what we don’t repair. ~Christine Langley-Obough
  • The size of your problems is nothing compared with your ability to solve them. Don’t overestimate your problems, and underestimate yourself. ~Author Unknown
  • Next time you’re stressed, take a step back, inhale and laugh. Remember who you are and why you are here. You’re never given anything in this world that you cannot handle. Be strong, be flexible, love yourself and love others. Always remember, just keep moving forward. ~Author Unknown
  • If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining it, and 5 minutes solving it. ~Albert Einstein
  • Problems are like washing machines. They twist us, spin us and knock us around. But in the end, we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before. ~Author Unknown
  • A man who worked for the Dalai Lama once told me that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong in your life all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible. ~Anne Lamott

And my personal favorite dedicated to my fellow die-hard optimists …

  • A positive attitude may not solve all your problems … but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Author Unknown

Final thoughts …

Since I began this post by sharing my challenges from last week you may be wondering about how I deal with problems.

I’m a planner and approach everything from a rational perspective, but I’ve also learned that an important part of the problem-solving process is mastering our emotional responses to life’s unexpected challenges.

Revisiting the problem I shared at the beginning of this post about the mysterious missing home page. Rather than letting frustration take hold, I put myself on a brief time out and headed out to get some fresh air and burn up a little energy on one of the hiking trails behind my home.

When I returned I sat down and began working on the problem calmly and systematically. Thankfully it turned out to be pretty easy to solve, but I credit at least part of that to the fact I first put myself in a positive mental state to deal with it.

This week, when you have a problem, try thinking of it as a challenge and opportunity for growth. Consider your current problem-solving style and whether or not it’s working for you.

More importantly, ask yourself if there is a problem you’ve been avoiding that you can tackle now.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Suzie Cheel

    Marty you had me smiling at your title, especially as I have been having computer challenges this weekend and we were connected to supposedly fast internet which now keeps dropping out!!! I recognise the avoidance techniques and love the quotes- I am sending you positive vibes for this cominf wee xxx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How To Make April Awesome and Abundant?My Profile

  2. Erica says:

    I’m so glad that you got your home page back!

    I’m definitely not someone who wants to avoid. My mother was of that mindset, and I think I compensated by being exactly the opposite. I have to take care of things NOW! I will say, it of course does help to take a few breaths to help come at things more calmly. I’m impressed that you went hiking before attacking the problem. I’m sure you had a much better perspective on the situation once you came back.

  3. Julie Gorges

    Your title was right – problems, we all got ’em! What great quotes in your article. My favorite: “We tend to be preoccupied with our problems when we have a heightened sense of vulnerability and a diminished sense of power. Today, try to see each problem as an invitation to grow stronger.” Thanks for the positive reminder that problems are opportunities for personal growth. Glad you were able to clear up your tech problems at the end of the day!
    Julie Gorges recently posted…Embrace Hygge Like Happy NorwegiansMy Profile

  4. Summer Price

    You are always great with the quotes, I love them 😀 . I also loved how you went out and got some fresh air before tackling your “problem.” Such a great idea! I am going to have to remember that next time something like that comes up for me.
    Summer Price recently posted…Thai Chicken Curry, Now That Makes A Good Burger!My Profile

  5. Sushmita

    ‘The important part of the problem-solving process is mastering our emotional responses to life’s unexpected challenges. ‘
    That is so true, still working on mastering my emotional responses it is difficult sometimes, but yes it needs to be done.
    Problems may come and go; however, we must overcome them to work on our dreams or passions and one must never ever run away from them as well!
    Sushmita recently posted…How to become a True Entrepreneur, the journey from a Wisher to a Doer!My Profile

  6. Vatsala Shukla

    Website and computer issues do throw us out of whack, Marquita. I’m glad you got that sorted out.

    One of my core strengths is crisis and disaster management – acquired over the course of my career and which works well in any situation now and the best thing you did was to step away and return in a calmer state of mind to tackle the gremlin.

    That’s the one thing they don’t teach in manuals but the most important one – calm minds can focus on possible solutions, analyze them and find the right one. Otherwise, it’s as good as throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping it sticks.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (you need to listen to your wrist for self-help)My Profile

  7. Mark

    Wow M!

    First of all, as I was reading about this weeks challenges, I couldn’t help but laugh!
    You really should, if you haven’t already, seriously consider writing light comedy, in the form of romantic comedies!

    Because I couldn’t help but laugh, as your week progressed and you laid everything out.

    And I absolutely love your quotes BTW! But I must ask, is there a chance, you’ve somehow had a sneak peak at one of my journal?LOL!

    Because you described the way I can artfully dodge challenges so well, I presume you must have read some of my entries!LOL!

    Thanks for sharing another outstanding post!And a simply fabulous read!
    Mark recently posted…How Extremely Savvy Entrepreneurs Generate New Customers For Pennies On The Dollar!Part SevenMy Profile

  8. Jeri

    I’ve been a pretty efficient avoider in many ways over the years. We put so much energy into not acknowledging problems at times that somewhere along the way I decided to put that energy into being more fully honest with myself. Problems are easy to ignore if not acknowledged@@.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Bruce BallengerMy Profile

    • Good for you Jeri. I think we all have our blind spots and I will be the first to admit my biggest blind spot e-v-e-r was my marriage and while I take responsibility for that, I also attribute at least some of my misguided thinking to my “good girl” catholic upbringing. Ah, the lessons we learn! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Jeri. 🙂

  9. You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head with this post, Marty. We ALL have problems. It is in our approach how we handle them that sets one person apart from the other. I have worked hard not to let my emotional side come into play when a problem presents itself. But darn menopause sometimes gets in the way!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…exploring Hato Mayor in the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

    • Life, in general, is something of a roller coaster ride at times isn’t it Doreen? I think all of these challenges are what make the ride so interesting! 🙂

  10. Rosary says:

    Great post Marquita! I too have been guilty of those avoidance techniques, especially when the problem is one I don’t have a solution to just yet. Or sometimes, it didn’t even start out as a ‘problem’, just a task that I kept putting off, and by procrastinating that task then turned into a problem. I love all the quotes up there, thanks for sharing!
    Rosary recently posted…[comic] – the answer is appleMy Profile

    • Recognizing a habit is a big part of creating positive change Rosary. One thing you might do is take notice if there are specific areas you tend to avoid dealing with. This would help you identify how to improve your problem-solving ability and increase awareness of areas that may need a little attention. 🙂

  11. I’m glad you said that all 3 types of responses take place from time to time. There sure are things I avoid, but mostly I like to look at what’s wrong, tilt my head to one side, and come up one (or more) solutions.
    I’m good at seeing what’s at the end of the road, which helps me figure out how to get there–that’s the challenge.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Desert Museum & Gate’s Pass in Saguaro National ForestMy Profile

  12. PhoeniciaO

    Thank you for this post. It has given me much food for thought.

    Problems come and problems go. There is no-one in this world without one, however rich or however beautiful or however loved.

    Many bury their heads in the sand in the hope that their problems will disappear. The longer you leave a problem, the worse it can become.

    I am not a proscrinator by nature and like to deal with issues head on. I struggle to handle issues I have no control over. I feel helpless and out of control which is where God comes in. I have a tendency to try to handle everything which has a detrimental effect on my mood and well-being.
    PhoeniciaO recently posted…How often do you delegate?My Profile

  13. Emily

    I used to tend to avoid the problem until I absolutely had to deal with it. But now I try to give myself time to process it, wrap my head around it before taking the time to try to solve it.

    By taking that initial time out, I find that I can think clearer because I am not so stressed or panicked.
    Emily recently posted…These Special CoinsMy Profile

    • Well said Emily. While I didn’t reference it in the article, taking the time to internalize a problem before acting is a characteristic shared by those of us who are Introverts. It’s one reason we suck at spontaneous brainstorm sessions. 🙂 But we can even learn to get around that because a smart leader will challenge people to begin thinking about a problem before a brainstorm session and this puts everyone on an equal footing. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. 🙂

  14. Marquita — When I taught a management development program at my old bank, one of the key components was teaching the steps in problem solving. I use them to to this day. Not all problems are bad. Your boss gives you a project. Problem solving is defining the problem — or obstacles — that you need to overcome to reach your goal. They also may be activities you need to undertake. We use the word “problem” too often, I think, when actually what we need to decide is what needs to be done to get to where we want to be.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience with us Jeannette! While I agree with you in theory about the use of the word problem, we have to call ‘it’ something and as I pointed out in the article the term isn’t as important as what we do about the situation. Always appreciate your valuable insights, my friend. 🙂

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