Don’t make it a problem…

April 14, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “A problem isn’t a problem until it actually happens.”  (Julie A Ross & Judy Corcoran) 

I thought about that and decided that one could also say that “A problem isn’t a problem until you make it one.”

Things that haven’t actually happened yet (and in many cases aren’t likely to happen) become problems in our minds when we let our imaginations run away with us and present all sorts of possible bad outcomes to think about. If living a long time has taught me nothing else, it is that things never turn out as bad as we imagine that they could. Yes, some bad things end up happening, but not to the disastrous degree that our imaginations conjured up as we fretted about them.

How many of us have spent a restless night before the day that we planned to ask someone out? We toss and turn imagining all of the ways that we could be rejected. Or, perhaps, we can’t sleep the night before the big game because we are imagining al of the things that could go wrong or bad things that we might do to cost the team a win. Perhaps tomorrow is the day you plan to ask the boss for that raise and now your mind is racing with all of the ways that you could be rejected or worse.

Most sports professionals use a technique called visualization to mentally rehearse before a shot or an event. They visualize how success will look. They “see” the ball going over the fence in baseball or perhaps landing gently on the green and rolling towards the cup in golf. They do not visualize failure, and neither should you. Instead, take the event that is at hand an visualize how you will be successful. Practice the things that you might say or do and “see” a successful response or outcome.

By visualizing a positive outcome ahead of time, you will go into the event in a positive frame of mind. It may help you to take a positive approach if you also visualize that God is with you, standing next to you as you go through the event. After all, we know that “If God is with us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

So let your imagination run with that scenario for a while. Imagine that you are standing there with God physically at your side. Doesn’t that build confidence? Don’t you feel a little more comfortable with the thought “We’ve got this”? Now, let the scenario play out in your mind and “see” the positive outcome. You might be amazed that, no matter which way things go, you have already won. You see – A problem isn’t a problem, if you have God on your side.

Start each day by visualizing God being with you and you will have a great, problem-free day.

You can’t deny it, so deal with it…

September 18, 2019

The first stage of grief is often defined as denial, the “I can’t believe that he/she is gone” or “I can’t believe that this happened” stage. That is also the first stage (maybe the precursor is a better description) of dealing with problems in life. Recently this quote appeared in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it.”  (Rudy Giuliani)

Zig Zigler put it slightly differently – “ The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”

I’ve posted here a few times about problem solving (see Problem Solving 101) and there are lots of great posts and article on line about how to resolve a problem, once you have identified it. There are fewer things devoted to recognizing the problem in the first place.

Confronting the problem means acknowledging that it exists. For many it is that first step that is missing. They can’t see the problem, especially if it is them – how they are acting in or living their life.  Spousal abusers seldom see what they are doing as controlling or manipulative, much less as abusive. Addicts become too focused upon the next high to deal with their addiction. Sometimes it is hubris, as much as anything else that clouds the judgement of the problem; the arrogant and self-important people of the world see things that are considered wrong by others as rights or entitlements. For these people, who can’t see that they have a problem or that they are the problem, interventions by family or friends is often the only way to get them to confront the problem.

If denial is the first stage precursor to dealing with a problem, many times it is quickly replaced by excuses. The immediate response to any threat is fight or flight and excuses provide a little of both by providing a way  to deflect blame for the problem by claiming that it someone else’s fault or caused by someone else. The wife beater may blame the actions of his wife to justify the beating with the comment that “she deserved it”. It is also easy to shift the blame for ones actions on some nebulous entity, such as society or everybody.

Do you remember what your mom told when you used the excuse that “everybody is doing it” to justify something stupid that you did as a youth? That advice still applies to your adult life. You can’t ignore or deny a problem that you might have by citing that excuse. Maybe the “everybody” that you know and to whom you are referring to is a big part of your problem.  Recent Chevrolet commercials have used the tag line “Find new roads”; maybe you need to “Find new friends”.

Perhaps the third stage as a precursor to solving problems in your life is the feeling of isolation or loneliness that overcome you. It is a very lonely feeling when you have that “aha” moment and realize that you have a problem and that problem is within you. All of a sudden, everyone else seems to drop away and you are standing there by yourself with your problem. Or are you? That is the time when your faith can provide you with the support and strength to carry on. You are not alone. You are never alone. God is always there with you and ready to help. You just need to ask.

If you can get to that stage, where you ask God for help with your problem, you have broken through the stages of denial and blame and started to deal with the problem. That is huge!  It is likely that the problem is not resolved just because you have taken that first step, but you are on your way in a new direction (the right direction).  You have taken ownership and sought help. It may be that you need the help of others – therapists or councilors – but you already have God at your side, so that part is easier.

When you reach this stage, you should feel good about yourself, maybe for the first time in a long time. You may still find the next few steps in the problem solving process to be difficult, but they are rewarding as well. The problem is no longer in control of you. Now you are in control of the process to resolve it. Congratulations.

Start your day by asking for God’s help with whatever problems you have (or have been denying). Your day will go much better.

Don’t sleep on the problem…

June 1, 2016

“When something’s troubling you, before going to sleep, jot down 3 things you can do the next day to help solve the problem.”  (H. Jackson Brown) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

restless sleepSo, to be complete, today’s post headline should say, “Don’t sleep on the problem, sleep on the solution.”

We often hear the phrase, “Let me sleep on it”, usually in association with a decision that must be made or a problem that must be solved. Today’s saying by H. Jackson Brown is good advice because it is telling us to put ourselves in a positive frame of mind before going to sleep by thinking of things we can do tomorrow to solve the problem at hand and not just to continue worrying about it.

Perhaps there is another thing that you can do before you drift off to sleep and that is topraying pray about it. When you pray about a problem you aren’t really asking God to make the problem go away, but rather to give you the strength, courage and wisdom to deal with the issues that constitute the problem. You are also asking God to be with you through the problem resolution. Sleep will come easier when you drift off knowing that you can now say “We’ve got this” instead of feeling alone in the thought that “I’ve got this.” After all, what problem stands a chance when you have God in your corner?

However, don’t expect that your prayer and faith will turn you into a spectator as God solves your problems. Remember that God acts through us, not instead of us. You still have to take the necessary actions to resolve things; but, now you have an unbeatable ally sleepingon your side. Maybe that will make jotting down three things that you are going to do tomorrow a lot easier.

Have a great night’s sleep – you are ready for tomorrow.


So, what’s your problem?

August 12, 2015

On the Jack’s Winning Words Blog today –  “The way we see problems is the problem.”  (Stephen Covey) Jack went on to write –  Everybody’s got problems …big, small, and tweener.  Problems are simply choices that we have to make each day.  S.C. says that problem-solving begins with correctly pinpointing the problem.  “What’s your problem?”  Calmly look for all possible solutions.  Prioritize, and then follow through.  If “1” doesn’t work, try “2”, etc.  And, remember the adage, “Not to decide is to decide.”    😉  Jack
painted into cornerI’ve posted here previously about problem solving; however, Covey’s little quote spurred some additional thinking on the topic. If I was to suggest a slight change to Covey’s quote is would be, “the way we see things as problems is the problem.”  There are, of course, real problems in life; but, then there are the things that we see as problems which are either totally imagined or best just left alone or ignored.

Maybe you know someone who is so paranoid that they believe that everyone is out to get them or that everybody’s talking about them behind their backs. Those people are creating problems out of nothing but their imagination. Of course, since they think there is a problem, they expend a great deal of energy trying to solve those problems. They may run aroundgossip confronting people whom they believe are talking about them or they may spend time denying imagined allegations which they believe are being spread about them; and that’s their real problem.

Others may see things that are best left alone as problems that they should try to do something about. An oversight by someone else becomes a slight against them, in their minds. Not being invited to an event becomes a major problem for them to be investigated and perhaps corrected. These same people may encounter things in life that just occur without thnk about itrhyme or reason and decide that they will try to correct things. They may spend hours or days researching the
“problem” without ever really accomplishing anything. Eventually they lose interest in the problem and wander off in search of the next windmill with which to tilt.

So, maybe Covey should have started his advice on the resolution of problems by saying that first it is important to take a moment to decide if this is really a problem and then maybe is it really your problem? Trying to “solve” something that is not really a problem is frustrating and taking on problems that aren’t really yours is seldom successful. There are problems that are so large and general in nature that they spawn movements to resolve them, so maybe joining a cause is the best solution for you. You won’t solve the problem by yourself, but you can help.

If the problem really is yours, you can follow Covey’s advice and perhaps read my post on Problem Solving 101. Almost all advice on problem solving follows the same path. Another good piece of advice is to keep problems in some perspective. Almost no problem that you will encounter in life is a life or death situation and most are way less critical than we make them out to be. The world will not end if you do not resolve the problem at hand. Don’t let your problem solving efforts totally consume your life. Step back or step away from them every now and then to catch your breath and to re-evaluate their importance to your life. You may be surprised how many of them just evaporate before your eyes as you are e-examining them. Some of them you may just decide to let be andhand reaching for heaven
stop your efforts to solve them; and that’s OK, too. Some of them you may need to take to God and ask Him to
take them off your shoulders. There is an immense sense of relief when you take your problems to God, because you have now engaged the best problem solver ever. You gotta problem with that?

Dancing in the rain…

July 10, 2015

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Green

I saw that little saying on a  plaque (the kind you would probably buy in a card shop) in a house that I showed recently. Vivian Green is a successful greeting card writer, so this little saying is representative of the catchy types of things that she comes up with for her cards. It may be written off as a vacuous little ditty, but it can lead to some valuable insight into life if you really think about it.

rain cloudIf you are experiencing a storm in your life; what are your choices? Accept what has just happen to you as your fate and go on in life depressed about it, deny that what just happened to you actually happened and try to go on with life as it never happened, deal with what just happened to you as just another challenge to be overcome as you get on with life, write off what just happened to you as being really not that important on the bigger scheme of things and go on with life, embrace what just happened to you as a learning experience and make the necessary adjustments as you go on with life. What’s the common theme – life goes on. How you deal with what happens to you in life will determine the quality of the life that you go on with. All of the choices above (and more) are possible, with some being more probable than others depending upon your attitude and mental state.

We all tend, from time to time, to “hunker down” and try to wait out a storm in our lives; some bad thing that has happened or that we think is about to happen. Maybe it is a confrontational situation – the need to let someone go at work or the need to do the “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up thing. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s thegirl crying loss of a job. Whatever the storm is in your life; it is important to stop and think about how you are reacting to it and ask yourself honestly if that is how you really want to act. Sometimes it’s OK to admit to yourself that you really needed a good cry; you needed to get that pain out through those tears. Sometimes you may find that you stop yourself from going down a path in reaction to things, because that path is defined by anger and striking back in revenge – not a good path to go down. Sometimes you may just be confused and unable to immediately decide how you should react.

Many times in a crisis you may have the knee-jerk reaction that somehow God and your faith have let you down. After all, how could God let this happen to you? These are all times when your faith is actually memore important than ever. There is nothing else in life that you can count on more than your faith, not even life itself. Everything else is temporary and will eventually fade away. Think about it. Is there anything else but your faith that is associated with the concept of eternity?  Is there anything else besides the resurrection promised by
your faith that you believe will be there the instant after you leave this life? Can you even conceive of anything more powerful than God? If not, then why would you not turn to your faith and to God in a storm? And if you do that, why would you not dance in the rain? It’s not so much that you have just learned to dance in the rain; but rather that you have learned to trust God and that trust allows you to dance in the rain; it frees you to dance in the rain; it compels you to dance in the rain.

So the next time that you encounter someone who appears to be dancing in the rain and weathering the stormsbelieve that life has thrown their way, maybe you have just encountered a believer who has put his or her trust in God to get them through the storm. Maybe they’ll share some of their faith with you and you can learn to dance in the rains that occur in your life.