Something I hear often is a sentence that begins with
“The problem is….”
Of course, this sentence has endless ways to continue, but that is not what catches my attention.
What is of interest to me is that we would start a sentence this way at all.
This type of thinking, speaking, and feeling indicates that we condense life into a problem to solve. As if life is a series of puzzles, and therefore, at any given time, there is one piece we must find to feel “ok.”
I will be honest here. I myself am a recovering problem finder and expert solver.
In my heyday, I was adept at all types of “problems,” especially other people’s problems; those were the best — keeping me engaged in avoiding my life while still getting the dopamine hit of solving a “problem.”
I will even hazard to say, I was solution-oriented to the point of looking for and even, I am sure, sub-consciously creating problems for myself, just to keep my anxiety busy. Contentment and stillness were not my friends, and ruminating was the norm. I would busy my days seeking solutions, and without a good puzzle to figure out, I would find myself bored, restless, and in fear.
I am trusting that at least a few of you are with me here. Does anyone else love a good problem to solve? Why wouldn’t we? We have been culturally trained since entering that schoolhouse as a tender 5(ish) year-old. Then, too, we are a society that depends on the filter of “there is a problem present” to sell ideas, products, and hope for a solution.
Along with society and culture, there are many reasons why we may tend to see life this way. This response feels comfortable and even comforting for some of us because of a childhood experience where survival was the norm, or where we experienced great disappointments, or where we were living amongst the caretaker’s chaos of problem after problem after problem.
And yes, I admit a problem can be a great motivator and a call to action, and even a great way to feel the familiarity of being in some sort of control of the chaos, which can feel like safety because of the familial and societal construct. Yet this strategy is externally based and, at best tenuous. It is grasping for safety, comfort, and purpose, and once a problem is solved, we need another to continue to feel ok. We feel exhausted as we fall into the pattern of negativity: seeing a problem within every solution.
“Life is not a problem to solve, life is an experience to have.”
Some common ways we know that we are engaged in “life as a problem” thinking are:
- Re-living or retelling situations long after they have concluded.
- Ruminating over a problem or others’ behavior that you have no agency over.
- Seeking news or media that activates the bodily stress response.
- Unconsciously seeking relationships that activate feelings of uncertainty.
- Feeling bored when there is no chaos.
- Dropping everything to help others in crisis.
The problem with this approach to life (ha ha ha…see what I did there?) Let me rephrase…
What we experience when we continually busy ourselves by looking for, creating, and solving problems is a constricted life. We miss the beauty of life’s natural unfolding. We are trapped in a constant stress response.
“The solution is never at the level of the problem. The solution is always love, which is beyond problems.”
What if that no longer needed to be the norm? What if we could be motivated by curiosity and wonder? What might you experience as you navigate days full of life just as it is?
I invite you to inquire on this, for and with yourself, by bringing awareness to your thought patterns throughout your day. Once awareness is present, widen your view by intentionally getting curious about your situation, reframing it as an experience. Lastly, release the grip on the idea of a solution to your experience; instead, be a willing witness and invite in the wonder of how life might unfold.
A great way to prepare yourself for this awareness and perception shift is my Coming Home to You practice. This is a very simple reset that you can do anywhere:
- Take three deep breaths, inhaling completely and exhaling the same. Feel each breath fill up the belly, the chest, and even down into the arms and legs.
- After the three cleansing breaths, sit back and land your consciousness into your heart, belly, and sacral area and witness the breath moving in and out on its own for at least 30 seconds.
- Allow the feeling and sense of home, the innate sense of safety, and the sense of belonging to the larger idea and the truth of you, to wash over you.
In closing, I invite you to come home to yourself every chance you get and watch your problems dissolve into the illusion of your experience.
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