What Are You Focusing On? Problem or Solution?

All of us know someone who’s had an issue for years – hey, we’re probably that person too, at least at some point in our lives. And what delicious conversation comes out of the problem! We get to be seen as the “good guy” and the other person the “bad guy.” We get attention. We get compassion. And don’t get me wrong – the problem is real. It feels real, we can point to the person/situation contributing to, if not creating the problem. And at least part of the reason why we focus on the problem is because we don’t know what else to do? And we hope that by returning to the problem time and time again, that it will resolve.

And so often, what do we end up with? The problem.

I think there has been a kind of unconscious cultural conditioning that has us focusing on the problem, feeling justified in doing so, but ever so frustrated when it persists. For many of us, we truly believe we are committed to resolving the issue, and that’s why we return to it time and time again – in our minds and our hearts and our conversations with the person or situation we view as the problem.

But what if there were a simpler way? One that lets the other person/situation off the hook? One that provides a more direct route to the life/experience/feeling we want to have?

Focusing on the solution.

What does this mean?

For me, this means asking time and time again, “how do I want to feel?” I remember coming out of a divorce, in pain and mourning, questioning everything I had believed to be true as all of my ideas of how to enter into and create relationship with a life partner had been upended. Not knowing what else to do I turned inward, and I focused on how I wanted to feel in my body and in my heart. I had experienced a great deal of conflict in my life up until that point, so my first declaration/recognition was “peace.” I wanted to feel peace. I went on to discover more feelings I wished to experience which led me to discovering my core values: simplicity, joy, presence, and beauty. I wanted to experience these states of being that brought me into alignment with the best of myself (one might call that connecting to and expressing my soul). And if I could tap into these experiences each day, in big and small ways, I could have my best life, AND, the solution to all those “problems.”

Living from this place of “how do I want to feel,” and “alignment with my core values” became the solution to EVERY problem. I recognized that the “problem” often (if not, dare I say, always?) had its roots in the way I was thinking about the problem, focusing on the problem, and unwittingly glamorizing the problem. And it was uncomfortable but necessary to admit that focusing on the problem for so much of the time in my 20’s and 30’s (and yikes, my 40’s too) was a kind of avoidance from having to actually DO something (and shift my BEING) about it. And it served as my excuse for having the same results over and over again. It was my consolation and my doom.

To live from “the solution” is to declare “I am the creator, I am the one experiencing my life” so what kind of experience do I want to have? If you’ve ever read the works of Victor Frankel or Edith Eger (I highly recommend both authors), you know that even in the direst of life circumstances exists the possibility of shifting one’s focus, transcending physical circumstances/people/situations, and being the curator of one’s internal experience.

So perhaps today, you can consider YOUR solution, how you want to feel, and explore your core values, as a step towards having the life that you want. I promise that even asking the questions will bring a shift in how you view your situation/relationship conflict and start you on a path to creating your best life.

(And if you’re curious, here’s what Chat GPT generated when I input the above blog, highlighting key takeaways)

The passage you’ve shared is emphasizing the importance of shifting one’s focus from the problem to the solution and from dwelling on negative aspects to proactively seeking positive feelings and alignment with core values. Here are some key takeaways from this perspective:

  1. Problem-Centric vs. Solution-Centric: The passage suggests that many people tend to focus on problems in their lives, which can lead to frustration and a sense of being stuck. Instead, it encourages a shift towards a solution-centric mindset, where the primary question is, “How do I want to feel?”
  2. Emotional Well-being: The author highlights the significance of identifying and prioritizing the emotions and feelings one wants to experience. By doing so, individuals can take control of their emotional well-being and work towards aligning their actions and decisions with those desired feelings.
  3. Core Values: The passage also emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s core values. Knowing what values are most important to you can guide your choices and actions in a way that aligns with your authentic self.
  4. Personal Responsibility: Living from “the solution” involves taking personal responsibility for one’s life and experiences. It’s about recognizing that you have the power to shape your own reality by choosing how you respond to challenges and circumstances.
  5. Shift in Perspective: Shifting one’s focus from problems to solutions can lead to a change in perspective and a more positive outlook on life. It can also lead to more effective problem-solving, as you approach challenges with a mindset geared towards finding solutions rather than dwelling on the issues themselves.
  6. Resilience and Transformation: The passage references authors like Viktor Frankl and Edith Eger, who have shown that even in extreme circumstances, individuals can find inner strength and transform their experiences by shifting their focus and mindset. This highlights the power of the human spirit and resilience.

In summary, the passage encourages individuals to ask themselves how they want to feel and to identify their core values as a means of guiding their actions and decisions. By doing so, one can transition from a problem-centered perspective to a solution-centered approach, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

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