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 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“.