I have a bad habit of ignoring problems. My habit is to pretend they aren’t there and hope they will go away. This is causing problems in my marriage and at work — but I don’t know how to solve either of these problems so I just avoid thinking about them. I realize this can’t go on. Any advice?
Have you ever watched birds perched on a telephone wire? When there is no wind the birds will be randomly facing both directions. But on a windy day, the birds all turn and face the same direction. When there is trouble in the air, the birds all face into the wind.
They do this because facing the wind is the only way they can take off and fly. If they face the wind (the challenge) it provides lift, it keeps their feathers from getting ruffled and it helps them maintain balance. If they turn away from the wind and ignore it, they can’t fly.
When life sends challenges your way — you must also face the wind.
Principle No. 1: When you sweep things under the rug, they don’t go away — they get bigger.
Challenges are in your life to help you grow. If you choose to divorce your spouse instead of working through the problems, if you choose to quit your job and find another instead of finding solutions, you won’t escape these issues — the problems will follow you.
The universe will keep giving you this situation again and again until you learn what you’re meant to learn. You might as well learn it now.
Principle No. 2: Life is a classroom and every experience is a lesson you are meant to learn.
Difficult problems are the teachers of life and they mold you into the person you are meant to become. Every problem the universe sends your way is in your life for a specific reason and you are meant to solve it or learn something from it.
Trust there is a solution out there and if you keep looking you will find it. Choose to trust that you are here to win. This challenge is here to help you grow — not to beat you. If you keep working at it, the solution will show up right on time.
Here are some suggestions for facing your problems and finding solutions:
No. 1: Take responsibility for what is in your control.
Make a list of what is in your control and what isn’t, relative to this situation. Get very clear on your responsibilities and focus on doing those things. If you don’t know how to do those things, ask for help. Leave everything that is out of your control in God’s hands.
No. 2: Be patient.
Most problems don't have a quick fix. They take time. Don’t give up if it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process. A slow process teaches you different lessons than a quick-fix problem does and you need to experience both. Trust the process is moving in the right direction, and it will be resolved if you keep at it.
No. 3: Increase your ability to respond to problems.
One of the reasons you run from problems is you have fear around your ability to solve them — so up your skill level. Read self help or relationship books, attend seminars or get a life coach or counselor to help.
I was avoiding important accounting tasks for my business because I was scared I didn’t know how to do them correctly. Signing up for a Quickbooks class made the task easy and now I enjoy the work. When you sharpen your saw the work gets easier.
No. 4: Focus on solutions.
Brainstorm and come up with 50 possible solutions to this problem. When you focus on solutions instead of complaining about the problem, you create a space to receive inspiration. You could also talk to 20 people and ask for their advice. You may get some interesting solutions you didn’t think of.
No. 5 Write an apology letter to yourself.
Apologize to yourself for avoiding opportunities to grow in the past. Explain to yourself that mistakes don’t define you and commit to a process of growth, learning, stretching and solving problems. This may sound odd (to write a letter to yourself), but you will learn some interesting things from doing it. Put your commitment to face the problems in writing.
The famous motivator and author Jack Canfield in his book "The Success Principles" said: “You have to take the positions that you have always had the power to make it different, to get it right or produce the desired result. For whatever reason (ignorance, lack of awareness, fear, needing to be right, the need to feel safe) you chose not to exercise that power. All that matters now is that from this point forward you choose to act as if you are 100-percent responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen to you.”
When you make a commitment to change and start taking steps in that direction you will find it is easier than you thought. Your fear is always worse than the real thing.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.