The Funny Thing About Problems…and what to do about them

I accidentally drove past my childhood home this past weekend and it was tiiiiiiiny! I mean it was a normal sized house, just not the size I remember. And the vast side yard? A quarter of the size I remember. There were still pine trees in the front yard but the lower branches had been cut and you could see the house–the small house–from the street.

What was this?

The busy wide street that went around the lake at the end of our street wasn’t busy or wide–no wonder my mom and dad let me cross it and ride my bike on it!

All this got my thinking about problems (hang in there with me) and how we carry them around with us. And with all their aspects and complexities they can seem daunting and gnarly and BIG.

But, what if they are all just childhood homes and if you could get a “grown-up” perspective you’d see they are not insurmountable. To be clear, I am not talking about health (disease, addictions, or the loss of a loved one). I’m talking about work or coworker problems, stuck in traffic, I hate change problems. Those day to day (and some not so day to day) problems that we build into oversize childhood houses (childmansions). I bet even if you grew up in a mansion and then moved away (as a child) it’s not as big as you remember. I feel like the only time this wouldn’t work is if you continue living in your childhood home–it and you continually right-size each other.

So. How to get that “grown-up” perspective:

First: Recognize that your problem may not be as big (or as bad) as you first thought. A great way to do this is to ask yourself a question: Is this as big as I think it is? Just asking the question gets you out of stuck mode and readies your brain for something different.

Second: Take your problem out for a viewing, this will give you a different perspective–you can’t just continue to hold it and turn it over and over, it wasn’t until I drove past the house and saw it that I realized its actual size.

  • So, get it down on paper–yup, work–writing something down helps. Words on the page can create new pathways in your brain. Maybe you’ll see something you hadn’t before.
  • Talk to someone, not someone who’s heard you complain about it, or worse yet shares in your complaint, you’ll only end up in a bitch session with no forward motion! Lay it out with: I’m wondering if I can talk to you about something I’m trying to get a new perspective on?

Third: List one or two small things you could do immediately to feel better. Maybe its redirecting, so, if you’re always triggered by a coworker (or your boss) prepare for it, tell yourself they may say something that sets you off, but you are in control of how you react. Ask to talk (if your problem is with a person) to them without blame. NO: you always do this. YES: It makes me feel or I feel.

I hope this helps you deal a little easier with something or someone.

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