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Journey into the greatness of you

How we relate to problems in our life

Houston problem

I have noticed two kinds of patterns when it comes to people who are experiencing what they describe as a problem in their life.

There are those who describe the problem as something happening to them and there are those who describe the problem as something they are actively participating in.

Let’s elaborate more on these two orientations and their consequences in our lives.

For those who feel their problems are happening to them, they will commonly experience the following:

  • I am not involved in the problem. The problem is coming from the outside. It is the cause, I am the effect.
  • The problem is beyond my control. Someone else is pulling the strings on this.
  • The problem does not reflect any part of my wishes, conscious or unconscious.
  • Problems tends to be recurrent. The past is directing my present and predicting my future. My life is a pattern of similarly occurring experiences.

The outcomes associated with this approach to a problem:

  • The person has no sense of agency and is powerless to address the source and possible resolutions to the problem.
  • The person feels victimized by the problem (This can be literally true for those who are hurt by a situation that is beyond their control).
  • The feeling of powerlessness exacerbates feelings of being anxious and/or depressed.
  • Problems tend to repeat themselves out of habit because they go unchecked at a personal (internal) level.
  • The absence of agency means that the external world consistently feels like it is pushing me around, like I am a feather in the wind. Little things become big problems more quickly.
  • Avoidance may be a tactic employed to respond to the feelings of loss of control. Problems tend to snowball and grow in number because they go unattended to.

On the flip side, there are those that feel and understand that their problems are happening with their involvement:

  • The problem is both an internal and external reality that I am co-creating.
  • There are features of this problem that are within and beyond my control. I can discern the difference and direct my resources and priorities accordingly.
  • The problem is contradicting my wishes, because otherwise I would not perceive this as a problem. I know what my wishes and values are, and I am committed to getting them realigned.
  • I have looked at past patterns and I am able to address issues in the present when they arise. My future is not pre-determined.

The outcomes associated with this approach to a problem:

  • I have the power to understand and explore possible resolutions to this problem.
  • As an agent of change I am also an actor in this problem. I can own my part and effect a different decision going forward.
  • If I was the victim of an act beyond my control, I take back control by asserting my power to respond to my present situation differently.
  • I understand that this problem has both internal and external features and that they are interdependent (ie my feelings and thoughts also reflect my reality).
  • I can reassess my values and sense of purpose if the problem is arising out of my own lack of clarity about who I am and what I want.
  • Avoiding this problem means avoiding myself, which is not an option if I want to continue down a growth path.

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Journey into the greatness of you
Written by
Mark Stolow