The solution to the problem is…
Wait for it…
THERE MAY NOT BE ONE!
That’s right, some problems have no solution, they are simply there to create change.
No one lives a life that is problem free. No matter how happy and balanced your life is, you will inevitably encounter a problem at some point, usually often. It is a natural human tendency to immediately look for a solution but this may actually be the wrong way to respond.
I’ve spent most of my life as an expert problem solver – for my own problems and for other people’s problems. It’s what comes natural to me and it’s what I LOVE doing. I love it so much that I might have overstepped boundaries a time or two as I hear people talking in public and I just have to jump in with a solution – never rude, always helpful even if uninvited 😉
As I’ve grown, let’s say, more experienced in this passion of mine, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way – and they weren’t always easy lessons to learn, accept, or settle into the reality of. These tough lessons came through actual experience rather than some insightful aha that happened to pop into my head. Fortunately, if anyone was truly harmed in the process of me learning these lessons, it was also a part of their journey and necessary for their personal growth. That’s not my escape clause, that is the truth of the matter and it all does work out as it should in the end. Of course, I’m far happier when I predicted that outcome correctly and my assistance was a valuable part of the resolution. In this article, I’m sharing some of these lessons and I hope you find them helpful when you encounter problems in your life.
The most important thing to understand about problems is that they are ALWAYS a sign that there is room for improvement – that something needs to change. In relationships, it usually means that it’s time to talk about uncomfortable things or boundaries need to be created and enforced. In business, it usually means that systems need to be improved, gaps filled, strategies revisited, people moved to different places, etc. On a personal level, it almost always means that it’s time to get real with yourself and stop telling the stories that keep you stuck. It’s time to spend some time excavating to discover what the truth really is and then give yourself the time and space to become clear on what you really want. Trust me when I say that it’s most unpleasant to feel unfulfilled in a seemingly perfect life.
Another important lesson to learn, though it is tough to swallow, is that problems are good. It seems counterintuitive but think about it, if you never had any problems, you wouldn’t be motivated to change and grow. You’d stay stuck right where you are, things around you would change anyway and eventually you’d find yourself feeling unfulfilled and even angry that ‘nothing changed’ but everything feels different. You see, we’re living beings and just as with every other living being, growing and changing is a part of the life process – nothing stays the same. When we stop growing, we start dying and guess what? That still involves change.
Finally, problems are merely an invitation to look more deeply at what is. They don’t necessarily demand a solution. For example, let’s say that you find yourself encountering one conflict after another in your work. If viewed from the problem / solution model, you’d be looking to resolve the current conflict and put measures into place that reduce the likelihood of you experiencing it again – and that may be the right action. But what if, this constant conflict you’re experiencing is meant to encourage you to look for more meaningful work? Or let’s say that you suddenly start experiencing side effects from a food you’re eating or a drug you’re taking – most people immediately look to stop the undesirable side effect through another magic pill when instead the problem may be asking that you stop taking that drug or eating that food. In other words, do something different rather than fixing the actual problem. Or how about the tough situation of finding yourself in an abusive relationship, do you stay and fix the problem or is the problem presenting to encourage you to get yourself out of a bad relationship? For a business example, let’s say you start having issues with a vendor and you find that in your attempts to resolve the issues, they still don’t improve, it’s fair to say that this might be the time to stop trying to solve the problems with this vendor and find another more worthy and appreciative of your business.
The next time you find yourself facing a problem, ask yourself why this might be happening right now and if it is a sign that something needs to be fixed or is it instead a sign that something needs to change. There’s nothing wrong with first trying a fix but pay attention if that fix keeps requiring more and more from you, if it does, that’s a sure sign that the problem is inviting you to make a change instead.