Create Space Between Your Problems And Your Thoughts
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao Tzu
What is troubling you in your life right now? Has it been occupying your time and energy? Sometimes, no sooner than we have dealt with an issue, another one emerges and we wonder when it will ever end. What is going on that we keep experiencing problems and resistance? Are they real problems or an opportunity to heal aspects of our life that need attention? I realise these questions may be difficult to answer in the short space of this article, however if we don’t make time to examine our lives, we’re likely to be drawn into the chaos and drama of our problems. There are many reasons why problems occur. Some of them relate to childhood wounds, while other times problems arise because of other people’s actions imposed upon us. Whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic forces, problems force us to pay attention to what is taking place within us.
Do you believe challenges occur for no clear reason or because there are greater lessons embedded in the experience? Your answer will dictate whether you stay mired in your problems or see them as vital clues to your life’s purpose. Often, our first impressions of what is taking place is not truthful because we’re responding to the chaos instead of what needs to be attended to. Have you noticed this before? For example, I’ve observed this theme in my life and now wait for a clearer picture to unfold before overreacting. Most times, what I believed was a problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Can you relate to this with a recent experience? What we’re responding to is what psychologists call catastrophising, depicted in our response when we receive a speeding ticket. However, if we step back from the drama, we might realise we were rushing about our lives and need to slow down to the speed of life.
What we need is to create space between our problems and our thoughts. It’s hard to distance ourselves because fear and other disempowering emotions have a way of convincing us things are worse off than they seem. As you know, this is one way of looking at it but it is not what is taking place. It might be helpful to consult with those you trust and ask for an unbiased perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in our problems and soon enough we’re seized by it, without solving it. Nowadays, when problems emerge, I will consult a few close friends whom I trust with their opinion. I reflect upon their advice and allow myself some space to consider the problem from a different perspective. This allows me to engage my creative brain to find a perfect solution when I least expect it.
Take Consistent Action, Even The Smallest One
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” — Seneca
Have you noticed forgetting about a pressing issue and while taking a shower or during a walk, the perfect solution emerged? This is testament that opposing our problems seldom yields a solution. This is because opposing and reacting to something limits our potential to solve the problem. We perceive it through one lens instead of a multitude of possibilities. There are infinite possibilities to solve your problems and I know you may find it hard to believe, especially when the problem is consuming you. Distancing yourself from it will help you gain a greater perspective of what action you need to take. Are you feeling better about this? Can you see when problems arise, we may not need to take action unless it is warranted? Perhaps the issue relates to our own thinking and we must clear out our thoughts before attending to the problem itself. Consider the advice of author and Jungian analyst James Hollis who writes in What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life: “Ask yourself of every dilemma, every choice, every relationship, every commitment, or every failure to commit, “Does this choice diminish me, or enlarge me?” That is, are your choices empowering you or contracting you?
Finally, we ought to focus on small improvements when faced with problems since this is the gateway to greater solutions. For example, you may find you gained weight recently and find it difficult to get back to your routine of healthy eating and exercise. Subsequently, the more you focus on it, the angrier you become. What if you made the tiniest of improvements every day, such as walking around the block or eating only half a candy bar instead of a full one? What I’m alluding to, is that taking consistent action, however small, creates waves of momentum to overcome our inertia. Considering this, reflect on the problem I asked you about earlier and come up with three strategies to tackle it. Don’t think big, think small. What is the smallest action you can take every day to solve it? Once you’ve come up with three solutions, choose one you can commit to and begin it at once. Doing something small can help us feel better than trying to find a grand solution that may take weeks or months. After all, if we continue to resist our problems, we leave little room for an improved outcome, when all along it may have been staring us in the face.