Problems: By Dr. Joe
our culture, we live out of a deeply rooted belief
that there are problems and that problems are bad
and therefore to be avoided. We are blind to the fact
that labeling something a problem is merely our interpretation
of what happened, not an actual event. Also, with
the appearance of problems comes the interpretation
that something must be wrong - with the other person,
the situation at hand or even with us.
With this belief that problems should not be, are
unwanted and to be avoided at nearly all cost, our
relationship to any person or situation that may prove
problematic allows us little room to be powerful.
As a matter of fact, we typically go out of our way
to minimize our discomfort by steering clear of anything
that might lead to the generation of a problem. As
a result of this orientation to problems, we find
ourselves attaching blame, making excuses, complaining,
denying, or otherwise hiding or stepping over problems
in order to distance ourselves from them. Avoiding
problems impacts our relationships, our productivity
and our effectiveness in dealing with others.
The invisible assumption or paradigm we all operate
out of is that good people do not have problems. Therefore,
if we find out people have problems, the natural thing
to do is to get rid of them or avoid them as well.
This orientation to problems causes us to deny they
exist or at least to ignore or minimize them. When
they do show up, we tend to attach blame to someone
else for them. Of course, all this hinders communication
and creates suffering.
We typically are unaware of our natural orientation
to problems. By being blind to it, this paradigm controls
us much like a puppet on a string. We are so deeply
embedded in our belief that problems are bad and to
be avoided that we don't even see how this notion
runs our lives.
Before we re-evaluate our orientation to problems,
let's look more closely at exactly what constitutes
a problem. Problems only exist when there is an interruption
or stop to some prior commitment in place. Without
such a commitment, the problem appears considerably
less in magnitude and may not even be considered a
problem at all. For example, if you get a flat tire
on the way to your wedding, it shows up like a significant
problem since your commitment was to get to the ceremony
on time. To the contrary, if you were just passing
the time riding around the countryside with nothing
important to do and you got a flat, it would show
up more like an inconvenience.
One drawback to our orientation to problems is that
to avoid having a potential problem, we avoid making
commitments that present any likelihood of resulting
in a problem. We play small because we can't risk
How would you act differently if you actually looked
for problems because you wanted the breakthroughs
that result from them? Instead of inferring that problems
mean something’s wrong, take on the empowering
belief that problems are the source of your growing
and expanding. Seek out and embrace problems as an
opportunity to take you to the next level in your
development. Create the expectation that you will
always encounter problems and stop running from them.
Look for the gold that lies within each one.
Remember, the problem is never the problem. Your relationship
to the problem and the interpretation you create about
it is. If you seek to avoid problems at all costs,
you will play small within your comfort zone, not
risking for fear of creating a problem. Instead, welcome
problems as the medium for creativity.
Create a powerful relationship to them as an opportunity
to reformulate, look for new possibilities and recommit
yourself to the original commitment underlying the
Typical Scenario of Risking and Why People Stay Stuck
Are In Your Comfort Zone
Make a Commitment and a Problem Shows Up
Creates a Stop or Interruption to Your Commitment
(Landing You in Your Discomfort Zone)
Leads to Resignation and Quitting and A Return
to the Status Quo.
justification (I knew it wouldn't work, I really didn't
need or want it, etc.)
This causes A Return to Your
Your Relationship To Problems
Are In Your Comfort Zone
Make a Commitment
Problem Shows Up
Use the Problem As an Opportunity for a Breakthrough
Recommit to Expanding, Stretching, Risking
Strengthen and Return Yourself to Your Original
Leads to an Opportunity for Personal Growth and
at least three situations you have avoided because
you have labeled them as problems.
is the underlying commitment behind each problem?
you more committed to your comfort and avoiding
potential problems or to playing full out for
an empowering interpretation that allows you to
shift how you currently see the problems you are
possibilities do you see in each problem area?
Which will you commit to act upon? By when?
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