Getting out of a mess

Last thing I’ll do whenever I feel low is to turn to some motivational D-I-Y book for solace. It will throw up all kinds of seemingly impossible solutions like “Just do it”, “ Pull yourselves up and get going” etc.  Holy shit.  Most of us fume when we read all that.  We feel like saying “ you’ve no clue what it’s really like. Here I am all fucked up and you ask me to act like a champion !” 

The natural reaction to a bad phase in life is to feel sad.  The bad phase could be an immediate financial ruin, a business that’s burning a hole, a career going nowhere, a lost job, a major illness or death of a near one. The pall of gloom overwhelms us.  In such situations, we definitely can’t smile like the D-I-Y author would like us to.  It’s human to react in a low phase and to feel sad.  

How do we come out of it is what matters.  Some do it early, others take a while.  

Here let me share how I deal with lows, in a very truly human, natural way. 

I am not authoring any D-I-Y, have no book to sell nor have I spent too much time surveying and analyzing other people who have gone thro it all. All that I try to do here is to articulate my reflections without bothering you with details.  If it helps you, I’d be glad.   

First, accept that we are in a low phase and think about it. Never try to flip over or get around your problem. If you do, it’ll have you for breakfast, lunch and you won’t be around for dinner.  The more we look at it in the eye, apply our mind and engage, it’s hold over us tends to weaken and solutions begin to emerge.  I am not saying how you should do it.  It depends on what sort of mess you are in.  Just let your mind take that elevator ride and go back to where it all started.  And slowly take it apart, sequence by sequence.  I call it fragmenting.  You’ll soon find your big mess broken down into several small, easily solvable puzzles and you regain control over your life. 

The emotions like anxiety and pain are natural, necessary for our growth and are unavoidable like gravity.  Believe me, we are not worse off because of them; we in fact benefit by since we learn from them and grow.  If you don’t experience them, you are either dead or are a psychopath.

I’ll let you in on a little truism. If a problem is not capable of being solved, then the problem doesn’t exist. Imagine a hypothetical problem like “ go count the grains of sand on the beach “ – would you rate it as a problem meant to be solved ?  No. It simply doesn’t exist.  

We can also collaborate with our sadness, using our intelligence to move with (or learn from) the natural tendencies at work in a situation. Aikido and judo masters protect themselves not by hitting their attackers, but by moving with them, supporting their energy — perhaps stepping out of the way of a charging opponent, and giving them a gentle nudge that sends them flying in the direction they were already running. Some people say that every problem is also an opportunity; it takes collaborative intelligence to recognize and engage those opportunities.

Never defend a bad idea. The problem with us is that we often like to be right and sometimes will defend ideas to the death rather than admit they’re wrong.  Willingness to concede a mistake and accept that other folks might know more or have better insight into a problem is a sign of intelligence, ability and maturity. Needing to always be right by playing “Calvin and Hobbes” is a sign of an asshole and a huge, dangerous ego.

Viewing in contrast helps. Review the problem and its circumstances, see how others deal with it. Contrast is one of the key means by which the mind distinguishes different objects. Try it. Picture becomes clearer. Sometimes a solution is lurking in the background and we just fail to see it.

Confront it. This is a leader’s tactic. They always urge the people to face the problem head on because they feel that people are mostly blind to subtle pointers around them.  They manifest only when you look at it in the eye – it’s such a simple notion and people often take it for granted. A good leader brings it out and make his people confront the problem and see things in a clearer perspective.

It never was a problem. Sometimes we just jumped the gun and imagined hell. Discuss it with a friend and come face to face with someone who is tenacious enough to dissect the logic.  The thing which gave you grief will just dissipate.

I am sure you’ve had your own experiences of solving real life problems.  Would you care to share ? 


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