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Turning Problems into Teachers

SOne of the teachings of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is: there is no failure, only feedback.  I really resonate with this idea.

Rather than seeing a problem, issue, mistake or challenge as something that is overwhelming and potentially ‘a failure’, you could view it from a completely different angle.  What you can learn from it?  How could this new perspective change your feelings and responses to something?

Think about some of the biggest stressors in your life, they are generally your biggest problems too.  Whether they are related to health, relationships, finances, etc., they come in all shapes and sizes.  They all have one thing in common, they present us with something, we wish were different in our life.

Interestingly, the amount of stress experienced isn’t always directly related to the size of the problem, it is related to your reaction to the problem.

Think about someone who is phobic of spiders, when they spot one, lurking in the corner of the room.  To anyone without this fear, it is a simple case of quickly catching the spider and putting it outside.  To my mother-in-law, it is one of the worst problems she could face.  I have on occasion heard her referring to having ‘nearly died’ when it came to a similar encounter with a spider.

This is an extreme reaction, but demonstrates brilliantly, the way our imaginations allow problems to grow disproportionately.

You have a problem, your imagination creates your interpretation, this then influences your response.  This is the fast lane to becoming stressed and feeling very stuck.

Do you want to be someone who flows through life, rather than feeling like you are constantly getting dragged down?  Try these tips:

Start by viewing your problems as teachers, by understanding the feedback they can provide, you can make better choices for yourself.

Following an operation last year, I discovered there were quite a number of things that initially I wasn’t able to do.  At first I felt frustrated by my limitations and hated constantly asking people for help.  Being a very independent person, this tested my patience.

I decided that this thinking was not useful, and instead I looked at what I could do and got creative.  I used a rucksack and other bags in order to be able to carry things while I was on crutches.  I exercised Bella (my dog) using a ball thrower and invited friends with dogs for ‘doggy dates’ so she got to play.  Admittedly, I was slower at completing tasks than usual but I felt a great sense of achievement too.  It taught me to be patient and to also be flexible.

Recognise you have a choice over the way interpret any given situation.  This choice gives you the power back over your imagination and ultimately how you respond.

Accept the problem and face it with an inquisitive mind.  This will allow you to consider the challenge in hand more objectively and calm your internal resistance, helping you to relax.

Take a look from a different angle.  Instead of constantly reliving a situation, imagine you are observing yourself in this situation from a different view point and reflect on it.  What is really going on here?  What could you learn from this situation?  What could you do differently?

This option is like asking a friend for a second opinion on something.  Imagine you had been attempting to start a project but found yourself going around in circles.  A friend’s view of the situation from the outside will offer alternative feedback and solutions.

Focus on solutions.  This will get your brain working towards finding answers and ways to help you start moving forward again.

This isn’t going to resolve every challenge you have overnight, but by creating calm and peace around a situation, you are going to be in a much better mindset to deal with any challenges that are ahead of you.