By Michael Weaver
Every person has their share of problems, and let’s face it – problems are unavoidable in many cases. The fact that we have problems is obviously ok – because we are human. You can make every right decision and still be riddled with problems. How we perceive, interpret and respond to our problems is really what matters – it’s what makes us grow and become better human beings.
It’s almost comical how short-sighted and uncreative we can get when we are staring down what might seem like an impossible, unimaginable situation or problem.
Here are a few things you can do, thought processes you can adopt, and methods you can use to turn your so-called “problems” into anything but…
1. Understand that everything in life is temporary
Much of our daily life is full of temporary relationships, feelings, jobs, etc. Let’s take a look at someone losing their job, it’s common for people to become upset and even devastated when they lose their job. Yes, it’s frustrating and it’s not fun to lose your primary source of income and have to find a new job. Sure, you’ve got reason to be upset and feel sorry for yourself a tad. You could sit around and think about how great your inter-office friendships were, and all the reasons that fuel your agony. Your mental state continues to regress if you follow this path of thought.
Now…Distance yourself from your negative thoughts.
Have perspective: You weren’t going to have that job forever, were you? No, you weren’t. Why not give yourself a boost of confidence and believe that you are more qualified for a higher paying job? Who says you can’t start your own business? Growth and life as a whole are built upon a foundation of experiences – realize that a new career or job environment might just be the greatest thing that ever happened to you.
2. Your problem is not new to this world
It has been understood, handled, and conquered at some point in the past. It’s also common for people to think that their problem is unique to them and them only. You know, their situation is new to this world and there are no answers out there. If you reach out to someone like this, they may simply tell you that you just wouldn’t understand.
Well…Fortunately, life’s problems have been dealt with millions of times by people of all types, backgrounds, ages, etc.
Have perspective: Instead of thinking that you and you only can comprehend the difficulty of your situation, understand a couple of things. Your problem has been recognized and conquered before, by people that have the same problem, but at a higher level of severity. Know that there are millions of people in the world – and through technology and the willingness of others to share – it’s so easy to find information and other people that know EXACTLY how to conquer your problem.
3. Slow your imagination down
How much of your problem solely resides in your imagination? The truth is, probably more than 90% of it. Our mind is an amazing weapon, but we have a tendency to let it get the best of us. We isolate ourselves and confine our problems to our own little worlds.
Wow…It’s crazy how far we can let our minds wander from reality.
Have perspective: Rather than use our mental energy and thought to let our imaginations grow our problems. Use that energy to share your feelings and thoughts with someone you trust that can broaden your perspective. Getting outside of your imagination allows your problems to become more acceptable and solvable.
4. Realize what you have with gratitude
In moments where we let our perspective fly right out the window, we also tend to forget all else that is positive in our lives. I can tell you, in moments where I’ve let my mind and a situation get the best of me – it’s been very helpful to take a step back and distance myself from the problem at hand. After creating some mental space, you’d be amazed at how your perspective changes once you let yourself realize all the skills, or health, or family, or friends, or opportunity that you do have – regardless of your specific problem that you’ve let dominate your mind.
So…You’ve convinced yourself you aren’t happy, now you need to remind yourself of your fortune based on what you do have.
Have perspective: When a situation arises in life that you didn’t ask for, don’t panic and let it overtake you. Do what is necessary to distance your mind – talk with friends, take a trip, go bowling, read, whatever it is that can serve as an outlet – and then spend time listing out all that you can be thankful for. If you are fortunate enough to have your health, start there. Be thankful for the ability to walk, to breathe, etc. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to feel better about where you are.
5. The larger reality
While you struggle to accept this problem or are in a state of denial because something terrible has happened in your life – there always remains a larger reality. It’s really easy to not allow yourself to have a vision beyond your problem. In the grand scheme of life, chances are that your problem is only a hiccup, and remember it’s definitely only temporary. The larger reality is that you are one of billions of people on this earth.
I’ll quickly touch on a person in my life that I’ve been lucky enough to befriend and get to know. For three years in college, my roommate was a kid from Rwanda. During the Rwandan civil war in the ’90s, he was separated from his parents, brothers, sisters – and the majority of his extended family was brutally killed. He arrived to the states after a family friend found him at a refugee camp. He began his life in the states in an orphan home with nobody, he knew not a lick of English, and managed to graduate from college in four years in computer science. Talk about overcoming obstacles. Now, this is a man that has some perspective on life. And I know he doesn’t sit around and get upset because he’s is still separated from his entire family.
Yes…Getting to know someone less fortunate and from a different background can be very eye opening.
Have perspective: It helps when you can learn from the stories and challenges that people have overcome. Most people don’t give themselves enough credit relative to their potential to overcome and grow. There are millions of amazing stories out there of people that have made it through impossible situations. Is your problem impossible? In the grand scheme of life and of this world – is it really that big of a deal? Getting acquainted with the larger reality is a great tool for gaining perspective.