Do You Have Problems? Join the Club!
By: Beth McHugh 2006
Everyone has problems, although when we are going through a dreadful time it is very easy to look at others and wonder why their lives are so good compared to ours. They may seem to roll through life smoothly, while we stumble and lurch from one disaster to another.
One of the problems that clients encounter when they come for counseling is that they often hold a belief system that is just plain wrong. Perhaps you hold it, too? Theodore Rubin summed this belief up well in just two sentences:
The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.
Somewhere along the line, we can fall prey to the belief that life was meant to be easy. Life isn’t easy and it will only compound your problems if you continue to hold dearly to this view. It is a very seductive viewpoint and it is understandable why people cling onto it and hold it up as a paragon of how life should be. Yet while we continue to maintain this belief about the world, we will always be thinking that the “grass is always greener” in someone else’s patch. We may inadvertently set ourselves up for unhappiness, even depression.
But the truth is that life is full of problems. Yet the thing about problems is that it is really the way that we view the “problem” that determines how we feel about it, and consequently how we feel about our lives. Self-talk is very important here. If we continue to hypnotize ourselves into believing that bad things happen to us and not to Mary Ellen down the road, pretty soon our mind will develop a filter that singles out all the unfortunate things that happen to us, and all the good luck that Mary Ellen has. We see neither ourselves nor Mary Ellen in a truthful light.
Certainly, you may be experiencing problems of tremendous magnitude and some people do seem to have more than their fair share of problems. Again, life isn’t always fair and no-one is guaranteed an easy ride. I do not wish in any way to diminish the anguish of a person diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or a serious mental illness. However, it is the way in which we approach all problems, great and small, that will ultimately determine the quality of our life.
The psychologist Carl Jung stated:
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness and the word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
Since problems are inevitable, it is important that we learn how best to view “problems” and learn new and better ways of dealing with them. Listen to the words of Carlos Castaneda:
The basis difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while the ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
When life knocks loudly at your door, do you mostly see things as a blessing or a curse? If you mainly interpret changes in your life as negative, then your life will become more negative than it need be.
When next a “disaster” occurs in your life, try an experiment. Try to view the situation in a neutral manner as much as you possible can. You can help yourself further by looking to the past at other “disastrous” situations that have occurred and see if you are able, with the gift of hindsight, to see any positive aspects to those situations. Most dilemmas tend to have a positive aspect attached, the most valuable being the opportunity to learn strength of character.
By slowly attempting not to head straight for the panic button or the
“woe is me” role when problems strike, try to become a modern
day warrior. Turning a problem into a challenge can make all the difference
to how you perceive your life, your luck, and your level of happiness.