“We Can’t Solve Problems By Using The Same Kind Of Thinking We Used When We Created Them” Albert Einstein
Simple logic, huh? Consider how much time is spent doing just that. As a therapist who is trained to help people untangle dilemmas and figure out what makes them and everyone else in their lives tick, I used to think of myself as a ‘go-to problem solver’. These days, I much prefer calling myself a ‘solution finder’, since if I use the former description, the focus is still on the word ‘problem’.
The free online dictionary defines it in this way:
1. A question to be considered, solved, or answered: math problems; the problem of how to arrange transportation.
2. A situation, matter, or person that presents perplexity or difficulty: was having problems breathing; considered the main problem to be his boss.
3. A misgiving, objection, or complaint: I have a problem with his cynicism.
1. Difficult to deal with or control: a problem child.
2. Dealing with a moral or social problem: a problem play.
Used to express confirmation of or compliance with a request.
Middle English probleme
, from Old French, from Latin problma, problmat-
, from Greek, from proballein
, to throw before, put forward
; see pro-2
+ ballein, bl-
, to throw
; see gwel-
in Indo-European roots.]
What fascinates me about the description is the origin, immediately above….to throw before or put forward. What if problems were simply whatever is right in front of us that we need to address rather than the monster we make them out to be? Further, what if they were just the exercise equipment on which we work out that make us stronger, more flexible, resilient or vital?
Think back to issues that you have faced in your life that you wondered how you would ever resolve. It could be as simple as how you would get to work on time in the midst of a blizzard or as potentially devastating as the death of a loved one. In this moment, the truth is, you found a way to get through it all, because you are here reading this article. You and I and every breathing person on the planet has survived everything that has ever occurred. I know from personal experience that in the midst of the crisis, I am at a choice point, a cross roads, if you will. I can turn left or right, stay where I am, move forward or take a step back…only those five options. If I am in worry mode, I am less capable of making beneficial choices than if I approach that decision with discernment and as much of a sense of calm as I can gather together. Having been raised by parents who, although not formally educated, had street smarts and the certainty that all would work out well, even in the throes of and especially in the midst of challenges, I have learned that skill. My father would say “If that’s the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be ok.” and then work with me to look at possible options. Later in life, my mother adopted what I call her que sera sera attitude as she would offer “What will be, will be,” when I asked her how she felt about her end of life journey. I have also become adept at ‘seat of the pants’, resolution. Yesterday in the office where I counsel clients facing addictions, I did alot of reframing of the life stuff they bring in with them, sometimes at the speed of thought. Sometimes it feels like walking through an apple orchard and picking ripe fruit from the trees that hang overhead and tossing them to the client, hoping he or she will catch it, take a big juicy bite and digest the concepts. Other times, it seems like digging into fertile soil, intending to plant seeds that may take awhile to grow into a gorgeous blossom. Both take leaps of faith.
There are times when the simple soul-ution; the answer that arises from my soul and not just my logically thinking mind, comes when I’m not even focusing on the issue at hand and like our friend Albert, I simply take the time to kick back and chillax.