We all experience “problems” in life. Sometimes we call them challenges, difficulties, roadblocks, struggles. No matter what you call these occurrences, know they are part of life and actually, part of growth as human beings. “Problems” (or whatever you call them) are part of the nature of existing, having relationships, goals, and responsibilities.
You, me, your best friend, neighbor, boss, etc. will run into problems. We will run into roadblocks. Just as much as change and death are yielded as the two absolutes in life, so are difficulties, problems, challenges. Whatever you call them, they exist and will rear their head at least from time to time, if not more often!
Most people come to therapy because they have identified they have at least one problem they believe is worthy of addressing and that they need or desire professional assistance sorting out. However, in all our years of clinical experience, it is exceedingly rare that someone comes to therapy or our practice with only one difficulty. After all, most people (but not all) come to therapy to work through multiple challenges. And sometimes, they discover additional difficulties in their life along the way – but that just means they have an opportunity to work through those things.
When people come to therapy, or even when they don’t, they are usually looking to resolve their difficulties or find ways of living with them differently.
So what can a person do when they are experiencing a problem?
Usually people want to resolve difficulties that are creating emotional or physical pain. The keyword here is pain. If it is causing you trouble, chances are you want to figure out a way to get rid of it. While this is not always possible, sometimes it certainly is.
There are essentially four different strategies that work for problem-solving. They are:
SOLVE THE PROBLEM
An overwhelming majority of people want or intend to resolve their difficulties. If it is possible to do so, this is a wonderful approach as eliminating the difficulty will often reduce if not eliminate physical or emotional pain.
Sometimes people need assistance with figuring out how to actually solve the problem. Likewise, being able to solve a problem doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a quick fix. Patience may still be required, but if it is an option to literally solve the problem you are facing, and you have also assessed and determined that you will not be creating additional problems as a result of resolving the primary issue, by all means go for it.
CHANGE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROBLEM
Sometimes you can’t actually change the nature of the problem, but you can learn how to relate to it differently. By relating to it differently, you will experience a different thought pattern about it and therefore, you are likely to feel different emotionally. For example, if your college age child comes home and tells you they are going on a spring break trip with friends, while you had hopes and plans to spend some time together, you likely feel disappointed, maybe frustrated, and maybe sad.
You have choices here: You can choose to stay frustrated about it while recognizing that you have little control over your adult-aged child’s plans, or you can change how you think and feel about it. To change how you feel about it, this would mean identifying the positive aspects of the situation, which likely include that your child has friends they feel close enough and comfortable enough with to travel, that they are enjoying their college experience and doing a very age-appropriate activity, and that it is giving them the opportunity to relax and travel at the same time. By focusing on the positives, you will naturally change how you feel about the situation and will likely approach it with more open-mindedness, support, and contentment.
ACCEPT THE SITUATION
Another option to resolve emotional pain is to simply accept. This is both a basic and complicated concept at the same time. On one hand, it sounds so easy, right? Just accept the situation!
However, the actual practice of accepting takes just that- practice. Accepting means that you deal with the situation as it is. It doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with what is happening or approve of it, but it means that you acknowledge the reality of the situation for what it truly is and come to terms with it. Usually when a person practices acceptance, they are no longer bothered to the extent they were previously, or they are no longer bothered at all.
STAY MISERABLE ABOUT THE SITUATION
Of course, there’s always this last option. It is by far the least productive and useful option. Staying miserable about a problem means that you really don’t do much of anything. You allow your thoughts that are probably negative in nature to take over, and that lead to an abundance of negative emotions. You don’t do anything to resolve the difficulty. You don’t do anything to come to terms with it. You simply stay in your own suffering (suffering is actually self-created by how you relate to and allow something to impact you).
Remember, staying miserable is always an option. No one should ever tell you that it’s not, because we have options for how we choose to deal with problems in life, and this is one of them. That being said, this option doesn’t make the most sense when you have other viable methods that are more helpful, productive, and adaptive.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
The team at Tampa Therapy is here to help you work through difficult, trying, and challenging problems. We specialize in working with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and couples therapy, and would be pleased to help you on your journey to growth and healing. If you are struggling, give us a call. At Tampa Therapy, we are committed to providing a relaxing, healing, and non-judgmental environment to support you on your journey. If you want things to be different, you have to change them. Give us a call or email us today to start the process of making important changes in your life.
Which door will you choose to go through?