How problem solving helps me resist awakening into accountability,
and what I might do about it!
A problem is defined by Mr. Webster as, “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” Problems are need-based, requiring solutions. With a problem there is a sense of obligation to attend to it – often right away. Problems grab my attention – just as threats do.
When threats come up, I go into defense mode. My vision narrows. My muscles tense. I get ready for combat. Perhaps not the best mode to be in for taking accountability or awakening into bliss.
Sometimes problem solving looks like a cat chasing its tail. For example, a gambler may borrow money so he can plunk it down at the table, figuring he’s lost so many times before, this time he must surely be the winner. His solution to each loss (itself a problem to be solved) is to solve the problem of funding the next attempt at the “big win.” It’s the same thing addicts face every time they need a fix.
Is Problem Solving an Addiction?
Problems tend to beget more problems. The solution to each problem seems to create more little problems of its own. After while, I’m caught up in wildfire fighting – solving problem after problem. Until I can no longer hold the fire hose, I’m so damned tired! Yet, I’m still looking for that next big win over my problems.
Problems need solving, which tends to capture my attention and imagination – and my energy – until I realize problem solved or realize futility and give up or realize some other outcome. No matter how I solve the problem, I make the problem real – I realize it. Once real, the problem and the attention I give to solving it own my energy.
And there’s the thing, then. Anything I make real, I tend to defend. Judgment, justifications, distracted attention – all play defense when I’m “working the problem.”
How might I go about effectively solving problems without getting into defense – without making the problem the problem, defending it as real, important enough to focus attention on it, and making it much more difficult to solve as a result?
How About Wording?
Let’s look at words for a moment. I like to think of words as little soap bubbles that encapsulate sound vibration, symbolism, meanings, defense, emotions, and a bunch more stuff. Put meaning-full words together into sentences and paragraphs and you have rich imagery that does something deep within the non-corporeal me that affects my corporeal world. My image of the world IS my world. That’s why words are so important.
Fortunately, symbolism, meanings, and emotions can change in relation to words. I don’t have to settle for common definitions that I may incorrectly house in my vocabulary. I can play with definitions. Unless, of course, I’m with others. Over time, I tend to surround myself with people who help me fortify and defend my previous definitions, symbols, and meanings for words. The moment I change my definitions, and speak those words out loud, others will tend to question my sanity, my motives, my connection with them. I may feel threatened enough to abandon my new definitions. Or, I may instead courage-up and perhaps find that I can lead my circle of friends and family into a new era.
The Power of Vocabulary
My vocabulary can change, too. I’m not stuck with words I’ve used in the past. I can consciously choose to replace need-based words with words that up-lift or help me awaken into accountability – that will affect my underlying belief system.
For example, my underlying belief is that a problem must be solved – else it wouldn’t be a problem. The word, problem, has certain connotations that I strongly hold onto and defend. Whenever I hear that word, my mind goes instantly and instinctively into problem solving mode – distracting my attention. The pull to problem solve is so strong in me that I accept that redefining the word will not change how I feel about it.
Instead, I chose to replace the word, problem, with the word, opportunity. To me, problems feel more immediate and need-based. Opportunities offer an invitation to excel – like a game I can win. Opportunity still grabs my attention and so are not the ultimate answer for me – this word exchange is a sort of step-stone measure. Perhaps my next shot will be exchanging the word, opportunity, for the word, catalyst – a neutral word that invokes a sense of change already in progress, a ball rolling downhill.
Viewing the world as a problem to be solved sets and keeps me firmly within the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble – fighting, competing, and needing! The words I hear myself speak can help me remain face-down in the mud of my problems or help me rise above them where I can see the field for what it is – an illusion.
Words can offer a beginning to change from defensiveness to openness and then to accountability. I move from problem solving into taking on my life with a sense of boundless gratitude and broadening awareness.
I can use words to change my perspective from problem solving to opportunity acceptance. Then onward into full gratitude and perhaps awakening into full accountability.