My problem, your problem, everyone’s problem…
Is that we think we are not supposed to have any problems.
We’ve been conditioned to avoid problems, mistakes and hardships. So when we struggle, we are not only dealing with the objective situation. We are also dealing with our emotional reaction to it and the belief that this struggle shouldn’t be happening.
But problems are not problems. They are experiences.
Everything is an experience and everything is temporary. I’ve learned that if it’s in my path, then it is part of my path and I’ve made up my mind to learn from every thing I encounter. All of it.
Like when you are diligently trying to improve your financial situation and you get hit with an unexpected expense.
Or when you have given love a chance just one more time, and that person betrays you or things just don’t work out.
Or when everything is going wrong and you don’t know how you will recover and you get hit with even more bad news.
Because problems are not problems. They are experiences.
We have pleasant experiences and unpleasant experiences and everything in between. All of it is part of the human condition. And yet, we want our problems to go away. We want to hold on to our fear and our need to control, even when it makes us miserable.
We don’t want to face the unknown: “What if this never works out?”, “What if I give my all and I still don’t win?”, “How much will I have to sacrifice?”
When we decide to be open to life, we have to truly be OPEN to all the possibilities. This requires faith and surrender. It requires that we make the shift from valuing the outcome to valuing the journey itself — even with all of its problems and uncertainties. Because through the problems, we become the being that we are here to be and we learn the lessons that we are here to learn.
When we constantly resist the existence of our problems, we strengthen them and empower them to stay present in our lives. When we face them, it may be uncomfortable and it may take some time, but we get through them and see that we are stronger than we thought we were.
This is how it usually goes when I have a problem…
I beat myself up about it.
I observe the beating up, the avoidance, the judgments I make about myself.
I see that this resistance just perpetuates the pain.
I see the possibility of softening my hardened outlook on this problem.
I decide to face it. Make space for it. To feel whole in spite of it.
I look for opportunities to grow from it.
I look inside myself for the willingness to accept this problem as part of my path.
I remember faith.
I remember courage.
As long as we are alive, we will always have problems. So how absurd of us to deny ourselves happiness until all of our problems are gone. That’s a life sentence that we don’t deserve and that will keep us from living in our purpose.
Today, write down what you perceive to be your biggest problems. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bad credit score or a cancer diagnosis. Write about the discomfort, shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, disappointment in dealing with these problems. Write how you have been causing yourself to suffer based on what you believe about these problems. Then, one by one face each problem — and the challenges that come with it — with open arms. Decide that you will be resourceful and brave and present with each one.
I can’t help but think about what Stuart Scott said a few months before he passed, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
His words inspire me that no matter what I face, I rise above by how I stay in the light and I don’t give up.
We must face the scariest things with the bravest spirit.