Accepting the problem so as to solve it

Diana Robinson, Ph.D

"Before we can transcend, we must accept."

This means that before we can solve a problem, we must accept that it is a problem. Our problem. Accepting it means settling down and taking responsibility for it. Many times, rather than accepting a problem, we spend more energy fighting it than would be needed to solve it. How do we avoid accepting a problem? Among the most popular techniques are to avoid, deny, minimize, blame, argue.

I'll use two examples, spilled milk, and a relationship in trouble, to demonstrate what I mean.

AVOID: When the milk is spilled we walk around it, we leave, we discover an urgent task elsewhere. When a relationship is in trouble, we watch TV, immerse ourselves in work, or change the subject if it appears the other person is attempting to raise the issue.

MINIMIZE: "It's just a little drop, who cares!" "We don't argue that often." "I hardly touched her." "We're a lot better off than some people I could mention."

BLAME: "If you hadn't startled me I wouldn't have spilled it." "If only he would stay home more often..." "If only she wouldn't nag..."

ARGUE/DENY: "Why should I clean it up?" "It's not my job!" "I don't have a problem." "If you're not happy, why don't YOU see a counselor, it's not my problem."

It's very easy to see all these techniques when other people are using them, but when it's us, they can seem very rational. The fact is, they all take energy that would be better used in solving the problem, and they do not make the problem go away.

So, when you catch yourself using one of these techniques just stop, take a deep breath, and start figuring out how to solve the problem. I've put my solution together as a Top Ten list, but you see it here first:

1. Catch yourself in whatever avoidance or defensive technique you tend to use.

2.Take a deep breath, laugh at yourself a little.
Consider what you'd say to a good friend who was behaving that way.
3. Accept the problem. It's here. Arguing, wishing it would go away, will not solve it.
4. Gather the facts. What exactly is happening?
5. Survey the severity of the situation.
How bad is it? What will be the consequences if it is not stopped, or solved?
6. Double-check to be sure you are not over-reacting.
Use the information gathered in the last two steps to be sure that your response will not be a
mountain-climbing response to a molehill issue.
7. If possible, acquire the necessary tools or skills to deal with it. For spilled milk, the tool is
probably a paper towel or a cleaning rag. For a relationship, the first tool and most important
tool is honesty, with oneself and with the other.
8. Assess carefully, putting your ego aside, whether you can fix this yourself. There are some things
for which you need expert help, whether it be from a coach, a plumber, or a therapist.
9. Do what you need to do to fix it, with or without help.
10. Use what you've learned to set up a mechanism to prevent repetition of the problem.

  Diana Robinson

About the Author:

Diana Robinson, Ph.D.
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