Every day people tell me about their problems, often in great detail, and I’ve noticed patterns that show up over and over. For many people, life’s problems are viewed as “not enough money” or “not enough time”. For couples, the problems are often around “communication” or “parenting” or sex. They think if they only had more money or more time or better sex or a better job, things would be wonderful. But it doesn’t work that way, because these things are not the BIG PROBLEM. From my experience, I suggest life’s really big problems are:
1. Tunnel Vision. The tendency to focus only on the immediate crisis or sore spot. Under stress, things look worse or more complex than they really are. The solution: Perspective. Ask if it will matter in 6 months. Ask what else is going on? How did I create this situation and, in an ideal world, what would I like to do about it?
2. Fear. The anxiety or terror that things will go badly, that we will fail or be embarrassed. The solution: Humor and Curiosity. Modern life has very few saber-tooth tigers. The situation is rarely life or death. Ask, What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best? What can I learn? What would I do if I had no fear?
3. Confusion. The sense of being lost or unclear about our direction. The sense that we don’t know our own priorities anymore. The solution: Responsible Choices. Choose your values and priorities and set your own path. Your life is yours. Check your moral compass, pick a direction and do something extraordinary!
4. Guilt. The belief that we have hurt or failed or sinned and deserve punishment. Guilt is either accurate, because sometimes we do behave badly, or it is false and simply an illusion. The solution: If we have transgressed, we must make restitution, ask forgiveness, learn from our error and move on. If it is false guilt, set it down as an unnecessary and irrational burden.
5. Shame. The belief that we are worth-less than others, that we have a terrible, incurable flaw. It is not that we have done something wrong (guilt), but that we are bad or wrong. The solution: Clear, rational thinking. Everyone has behaved badly, but no one was created badly! Any flaws only serve to make you stronger, more heroic or more compassionate toward others.
6. Loneliness. The belief that no one loves us, that no one cares and we must desperately cling to anyone who finds us attractive or acceptable. This creates dependency, not intimacy. The solution: Accurate Self-Assessment. Not everyone will love you, but many people will if they meet you, get to know you, and spend time working/playing along side you.
7. Resentment. Holding anger and refusing to move beyond real or imagined mistreatment in the past. Some people spend their whole lives as “victims”, nurturing a terrible event in their past. The solution: Let go! Life is not fair and people do not always behave well or kindly. Use your trauma to make you wise, kind, gentle, and strong. Holding anger will not work.
8. Self-Doubt. The repeated, endless questioning of your own abilities, opinions or actions. The inability to take a stand, to act boldly, or to follow-through. The solution: Action! Think clearly, then take action and follow-through. Start small, but do it! You are the world’s expert on your life! Use your wisdom to live well.
9. Stubbornness. The refusal or inability to re-assess a situation, change your mind, or admit you were wrong. The solution: Wisdom and Humility. Only a fool stays on a course that is headed for disaster! Search for new and better information, remain flexible, open and creative. When the situation changes, adjust accordingly and set a new course.
10. Addiction. Humans become addicted to drugs, but we also become addicted to our jobs, our opinions or our lifestyle. We can be addicted to people and need them rather than love them. The solution: Take a vacation! Periodically, walk in someone else’s shoes. Break your habits, re-arrange your schedule, delegate those things that only you can do “right”. Use habits and traditions to set you free, don’t let habits enslave you!
What do you think? Have you ever faced such problems? What did you do?
Source: Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach