Problems are inevitable. They don’t go away if you ignore them. So it’s important to understand some essentials about problems, so that when life throws them at you, you know how to deal with them.
1. Problems are everywhere
Everyone has them. So if you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, my life is worse than that person’s life, or I’m going through way more than other people have,” that’s because you’re only looking at your life from a very micro lens of what you’re experiencing right now. Because if you zoom out anyone’s life, yes I said anyone’s life, on a longer timeline, you zoom it out and zoom it out and zoom it out and all of a sudden you start to see something very similar. All the people who you think go through life without problems have had challenges to overcome numerous times in their lives.
Problems are not something unique to those going through the addiction or mental illness process, or the grief and loss process, or the trauma process. Because all human beings go through this thing called life and life has its share of problems. So knowing that it’s something that we all experience, the only thing we can do is find a new relationship with the word Problem. And that’s what we’re going to do here today – we’re going to change the context and the way we view problems in life and ultimately that’s going to have some freedom in it.
2. Problems don't disappear if they are ignored
That old strategy of just sweeping it under the rug – does that work for you? Man, it don’t work for nobody. The people that just don’t respond to emails, they don’t open up their mail, they don’t make the phone calls, they just avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, because they don’t want to face reality or face their fears or face their problems, how does that work for you? And I’m not like talking down or anything like that. I’m just curious. It’s a question. If that’s what you tend to do with your life, you avoid them hoping that they go away, it’s okay to have a conversation about it, right? How’s that working for you? Did the problems you had back in the day, are they all gone now because you avoided them? Man, the only way we can get rid of problems is by facing dead on.
Remember this: the avoidance of pain produces more pain. The cure for the pain is in the pain.
3. We tend to lose a correct perspective of problems when they are our own
Your problem – minor problem, my problem – major problem. And that’s kind of what we go through life with the wrong perspective. We over exaggerate and over dramatize and overshoot how big and overwhelming and intense our problems are. When we think other people’s problems aren’t as bad we minimize theirs. Your problem – small, my problem – big. And don’t get me wrong, I know you hopefully – if you’ve been watching this channel that I’m pretty rooted in this thing called compassion – so I’m not sitting here just kind of bashing away, I just want you to know that.
Yes, some of you are going through some serious problems right now straight up. Some of you might have aging parents that are just really going through the wringers of the last stages of life. Some of you have younger teenagers or young adults or adult children that are going through struggles right now and their actual problems. They’re causing financial, physical, psychological, emotional disruption and pain in your life but again it’s a limited lens on a micro timeline. You go back and look at the entirety of it all you’ll realize that these problems don’t come in this significance all the time. And for those of you who have always experienced problems in your life, no matter what age you are, where you were, what you were doing, who you were with, where you were living, I’m not going to tell you that you are the problem, because that’s insensitive to say.
But I will say that if you’ve experienced it in all stages of your life, and I know especially the ones when we’re young they weren’t your fault, because you probably came into some dysfunction, but if you never healed from that dysfunction, and never healed from that trauma, and now you just perpetuate the cycle of chaos and problems in dysfunction, in your own life, at some point you gotta give some thought into the fact that you’re the common denominator of all those errors, in all those places, and all those people, and all those things. So again, not saying it’s your fault, but I’m saying we kind of have to take some responsibility to look at that . Why do I keep experiencing problems in every area of my life? It’s a very very poignant question.
4. Our perspective of the problem and not the problem itself determines our success or failure
The right perspective is problems are solvable, and the wrong perspective is problems are unsolvable. I want you to know that all problems in life do have solutions. Sometimes people say, “well there’s nothing I can do about it,” or “it just is the way it is,” or “that’s just the way that I got it, like deal with it.” That’s a wrong perspective – you want to know why? I do believe that all problems have solutions but what happens is sometimes we don’t like that solution. It takes too much time, it’s too hard, I don’t think I can do it. See, that’s not saying there’s no solution. That’s saying you don’t accept the solution necessary to solve the problem.
So there’s only two perspectives when it comes to a problem: it’s solvable or it’s not solvable – you choose. If you say this problem cannot be solved you will never solve that problem. If you say this problem can be solved you must accept the timeline, the sacrifice, the conversation, the confrontation, of all the things leading to it. That choice is yours: right perspective – problems are temporary. Wrong perspective – problems are permanent. Nothing in life is permanent, okay, everything in life is temporary.
Life itself is temporary so why think that the problems are going to be permanent?
And whenever we get emotionally triggered we lose sight of all this stuff – we just think it’s happening to us forever. No, it’s not, no it’s not. Problems are temporary. How we navigate through them dictates if they’re going to be a part of our future or not.
The same problem, at least so the right perspective is, problems make us better. The wrong perspective is, problems make us bitter.
- Some people embrace problems to say this is an opportunity for growth. I’m glad this went wrong because now I can see first and foremost what I did to cause it.
- Second of all, what could have been different about the way the environment was, or how I was engaging with it, that could have made it significantly less.
- And third of all, what the hell can I do to prevent this from happening again?
Now some people, when the problem comes, they just get bitter. They’re like, “everything’s always messed up, it’s always wrong, I can’t do anything right, no one does anything right,” and you think in that mind frame and that characteristic trait, you think it just is isolated to that single problem. If problems make you bitter they make you bitter in every area of your life, they make you bitter in your personal relationships, because guess what? The problems, they make you bitter at work because guess what? There’s going to be problems. They make you bitter during the holidays, because guess what? They’re gonna be problems. They’re gonna make You bitter with your kids because guess what? There’s going to be problems. So either problems make you better or they make you bitter – choice is yours, my friends. I love giving choices to people because I’m not really emotionally connected to which one you choose, it’s kind of cool.
5. Problems challenge us versus problems control us
Some people allow the problems in their life to control their mind, their body, their spirit and their soul – that’s a choice because the same problem can challenge you to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. Do you let your problems challenge you or they let you control you and if you let it control you, you gotta ask yourself why, and not just why, for how long have I allowed this to happen? And more importantly, for how long will I allow this to continue? I say not a minute more. So let the problems in your life challenge you, not control you. You’re all going through problems listening to this right now. I know you are. Don’t let it control and consume you. Let it challenge you to help you become the best version of yourself because that’s the only version that’s going to be able to solve some problems anyways.
6. Problems stretch us versus problems stop us
We must stretch mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially in order to become so resourceful that we can solve problems in our lives. You gotta stretch, you gotta get creative, you got to come up with different options and solutions and strategies but when you let problems stop you in your tracks and you just get crippled or paralyzed, mental paralysis and you can’t think, you can’t move, you can’t act, you can’t do anything, it’s a perspective thing. Do you allow it? Do you allow it to do that to you? And again, for how long have you been doing that, and for how long will you continue it? So that was a whole little rant on the right versus wrong perspective towards problems.
The word Problem comes from the Greek word Proballein, and what it means is to drive forward. Problem comes from the Latin root proballein, the Greek word proballein, and the meaning of it is to drive forward. So a problem all of a sudden goes from being something negative to a catalyst for growth. How cool is that? So when we think about the word Problem, I’m going to say that again, because I really want to capture the essence of how powerful this is. Our first association, a problem is usually something negative. When there’s a problem in life it’s usually a negative connotation, a negative association, but the word Problem comes from the Greek word proballein, which means to move forward. So not only does it mean that a problem is not a negative connotation, a problem is a catalyst for growth and advancement, in moving forward. So embrace the problems in your life, seek the opportunities and the gifts that exist within those problems, and drive yourself forward as a result of it. That’s a pretty cool thing.
7. When you make small plans expect small problems when you make big plans expect big problems
The size of your problems will likely be congruent with the size of your plans. So most people have a negative connotation to the word problem, and they also don’t really do a good job setting goals, casting visions for dreams. And I’m telling you this my friends, the bigger the goals, the bigger the dream, the bigger the vision that you cast for yourself and your family and your future, it’s gonna come with bigger problems. You can’t have an extraordinary vision in goals, like dreams for yourself, thinking that there’s going to be no problems involved. The bigger the dream, the bigger the problem. The bigger the goals, the bigger the problem. The greater you cast that vision for your future, the bigger the problems that will exist until you develop all that. So the size of your problems is congruent to the size of your dreams, and that’s okay, because that means it’s the same for everyone. It’s universal – it’s not just happening to you. So dream big.
Like I always say, head in the clouds. Dream big but please make sure that your feet are on the ground. Feet on the ground, head in the clouds. And anticipate problems. But again after hearing this talk when you anticipate problems you’re not going to brace yourself for something scary. You’re going to say, “Bring It on, give me the problem, let me resolve it, and as a result of it I will drive forward.” So that’s a really powerful way to look at it.
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