Monday, May 27, 2024

Problems Aren't The Problem

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We're ineffective if we're busy solving the wrong problems.

Problems are a part of life, but what if I told you they aren't the real issue?

It's our perception and reaction to these problems that truly matter. We can all relate to the concept of a 'Problem'. We've been conditioned to believe it to be so, and 3 truths make up that understanding:

1- We'll always act in ways to increase pleasure & avoid any form of pain.

2- We've mapped specific experiences and associated them with pain

3- Our language reaffirms to us what we believe

Regardless, we have the power to change this. It's what makes those who are extraordinarily truly effective.

People don't mind problems. Hear me out.

The main issue is that we haven't been taught to understand the real problem. Instead, we've defined it internally in such a way that when it represents itself and doesn't match our expectations, we call it a problem; that word holds weight, so we react.

The reaction often worsens the problem, affecting our thoughts, language, and behaviour.

What's the real problem?

Have you ever encountered a challenge that frustrated you or perhaps made you angry?

Then, other challenges piled up well before you could solve the first one, and now, from one problem, you have two or three? Maybe in frustration, you made bad decisions or said something to someone close to you that you shouldn't have? I know I have.

Problems We Experience

Often, when I coach clients, this is true.

I want you to understand that your effectiveness in solving and manoeuvring those "problems" is hindered because the real problem is something else entirely that triggered you.

Again, this comes from experiencing something that goes against your defined inner 'rules'.

Consider these common inner rules:

1- I must always be in control of every situation.

This rule creates a high standard that is nearly impossible to maintain. When things go wrong, it can trigger frustration or anxiety.

2- I should never make mistakes.

Believing that mistakes are unacceptable can lead to intense fear of failure and self-criticism.

3- I must never show weakness.

This rule sets an unrealistic standard of constant competence and invulnerability. When faced with a problem, it can trigger feelings of inadequacy and fear of being exposed as weak or incapable.

These rules set unrealistic standards and can trigger strong emotional responses when challenged, making problem-solving more difficult.

We'd redirect our emotional states toward other challenges that amplify them into monsters, and we were unaware of the cause.

Here's what that looks like:

Trigger That Causes Our Problems To Over Amplify

I encourage you to always find the source of what triggered you. Stay calm when challenges arise; don't get fueled with emotion.

Uncover the trigger.

When problems arise, perhaps you're in or going through something today, refrain from getting emotional. You want to be clear first; that gives you power and makes you effective in finding a solution.

Here's what you can ask yourself sequentially:

1- What's occuring here?

2- What about this experience is making me emotional?

3- What do I believe ought to be true? Is it?

4- How is this reflective of me?

Here's a very simple example I want to illustrate that manifested through a client call.

1- What's occuring here?

I'm not finding any joy here; I'm considering returning to my country. I'm concerned that the changes in my country are damaging what they've come to develop.

2- What about this experience is making me emotional?

My country is losing its culture.

3- What do I believe ought to be true here?

We have to maintain who we are.

4- How is this reflective of me?

I'm losing my sense of self, direction, everything.

The client is triggered by life's challenges to her self-identity. Perhaps her experiences were not up to her expectations, going against what she's come to know and believe, making her feel like she has no control.

Her reaction to the manifested "problem" makes her react in ways that might not necessarily solve the problem: moving back.

We have to be careful about our reactions and behaviour. They can create new mental maps of our reality that aren't valid; we make it so and inadvertently shift our identity.

In this example, uncovering the trigger means we can now question the real problem.


1- Refrain from emotionally reacting to problems that arise

2- Get clear on what's really triggering you

3- Be open to challenging your own rules for more empowering ones

Your Self-Leadership Coach

Anks Patel

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