By Karen D. Nutter
The world is pretty crazy right now, isn’t it? People are worried about their health, safety, freedoms, finances, and so much more all at one monumental time. As these challenges continue to invade our daily lives, it’s not uncommon for our fight or flight response to kick in, and as it does stress rises. (See “What to do with all that stress you’re feeling” for emotionally intelligent ways to manage your stress.) When stress and fears rise, it’s only natural that at some point, we have to find ways to release them.
Just watch the news for a few minutes, or look online, and you’ll see a plethora of stress being released in the form of riots, shootings, fights, and other crimes. Even more prevalent are the vile comments and accusations being tossed around on social media, town halls, and other community outlets – not to mention politics.
Think about how many times lately you’ve read or seen something you disagreed with… did you say anything? Have you been sharing your opinion on things more often over the past few months? It’s natural to want to share an opinion, and there are MANY opinions being shared these days! And, yes, we are all entitled to our opinion. However, doing that doesn’t solve anything. Sure, we may feel better for a few seconds after we get it off our chest, but it doesn’t actually take away the anger, fear, or angst we may be feeling. In fact, it may actually add to it, and cause more problems for ourselves and others. So, how do fix things? What can we, as individuals, do to reduce all the problems that seem to be coming at us? Start by looking at them.
What Are You Looking At?
How satisfying life is depends on where we put our focus. There are many quotes about the importance of focus, but my favorite is from Zig Zigler:
“When you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities.”
So, right now, as the news, Internet, and our family and friends are focusing on so many problems, the more we engage in all of it, the more problems we create for ourselves.
Think about it for a minute – life can get really heavy when you allow yourself to be constantly bombarded with negativity from all the people engaged in the fight response. And, it gets even heavier when you enter the ring and start fighting, too. The more you fight, the more connected you are to the negative side of the problem.
I know this may sound overly simplistic, but if you want to solve problems, you must focus on solutions. You can’t solve problems by constantly talking about them – eventually, you just end up talking in circles. You also cannot solve problems by fighting about them – that just leads to bigger problems. If you want to solve any problem, you must change how you see it.
Problems and challenges don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, they are great at helping us learn, grow, and develop as people. The key is to reframe your situation and see it as an opportunity. Think of any problem you are facing right now… What if this problem exists so that you can find a way to overcome it and experience something magnificent once you do? Every problem has the potential to lead to something magical. But first you must be solution-focused.
Every problem we face is an opportunity to find or create something better, at the very least in our own lives. So, sit down right now and ask yourself, “How can I make this better?” Brainstorm a list of possible solutions even if some of them are far-fetched. And, don’t try to make each solution something big and monumental – “the simplest solution is almost always the best.” (Occam’s Razor)
When we stop allowing ourselves to get dragged into the whirlpool of problems, (and the anger, fear, and sadness that swirls together) we are lighter, happier, and more adept at creating new opportunities. It’s not that problems no longer exist – although, that, too, would be magical! It’s that they show up to teach us something positive – IF we’re willing to look at things differently.
So, practice being solution-focused and see how your life changes. And, next time you hear or read something negative, instead of adding to the hostility, do something positive.