“Focus on the problem, and the problem increases. Focus on the solution, and the solution increases.” Twelve-step programs offer that tidbit of wisdom to help work through life’s challenges.
Chris, a spiritual friend recently had an opportunity to put this problem-solving tool into practice. Over a cup of coffee, my friend complained he was overwhelmed by problems with his spouse, his children, and his job.
“I feel like I’ve got a huge snowball building up inside me. Troubles keep rolling at me like a growing avalanche. I’ve tried to talk with God about all this stuff, but I get confused about what to do. I feel stuck. Lost.”
After he vented, I invited Chris to close his eyes and silently ask God to help him identify each problem he faced.
After sitting for a few moments in silence, Chris opened his eyes.
I handed him a blank sheet of paper. “Draw a circle for each problem troubling you.”
Chris drew five circles representing the snowballs that made up his emotional avalanche. Next, he wrote a word or phrase in the center of each circle to name that problem.
Finally, Chris sought Divine Wisdom so he could discern which fixes were the best for each situation. He then wrote down a list of possible solutions.
As he came up with concrete resolutions for each problem, Chris’s tight jaw relaxed. His eyes brightened and he grinned.
“Wow!” Chris held up the paper. “It worked. I named each problem, and then shifted my focus to solutions. I now have positive steps I can take to resolve the troubles I’m facing. I don’t feel stuck anymore. I feel free.”
This practice might sound simplistic. But it works, especially when combined with prayer. It’s surprising how simple habits can resolve the problems life throws at us.
The next time you feel an avalanche of problems rolling over you like a huge snowball, pull out a blank sheet of paper, identify the problems, and then shift your focus onto solutions.
See if the twelve-step adage rings true: Focus on the problem, and the problem increases. Focus on the solution, and the solution increases.
—brian j plachta