When problem-solving is the problem

Dr. Tony NSA

It seems to me that human beings are by nature problem-solvers. So much so sometimes that we create problems just to have something to solve.

We apply our problem-solving skills to every aspect of our daily lives, turning many things into tasks that we then proceed to methodically perform.

We become so proficient at problem-solving that we become dependent on this one skill to help us operate in the world. Whether it’s figuring out what to eat or how we’re going to spend our time (our schedules), problem-solving is a key resource that we draw on.

Some of the stress we experience involves not being able to solve a problem. Another source of stress is whether we’re able to (or not) assess what are the important problems to solve. When we’re able to recognize that we’re not spending enough “me time” or quality time with our loved ones, problem-solving becomes harder and we can feel more stress (helplessness).

The same stress applies when our bodies don’t seem to want to cooperate. At least that’s how many of us relate to our bodies when we feel pain and dysfunction. We then often search for help with problem-solving the issue.

“Tell me what it is doc”

Because if I know what it is, then maybe I can do something about it. Or maybe there’s something a professional can do. Ironically, by focusing on the perceived problem and drawing on the sole resource of problem-solving, we limit ourselves in finding a solution.

When we problem-solve, we rarely take a step back. If anything we get more hyper-focused and step in closer. Taking a step back and looking at the “problem” from different perspectives allows us to access more resources and creates more space between us and “the problem”.

What we might find is that the physical experience we’re having, such as pain and dysfunction or disease, has its source in the larger perspective, not in the minutiae. Rather than asking: “Is it the nerve or the muscle or the joint or is it allergies, maybe it’s how I slept”, what if we were to focus on the bigger picture? Asking bigger questions such as: “Does my identity match with my purpose?” or “How can I bring more of who I am into my daily life and the lives of others?” or “Am I on track to create the impact that I want to make?”

Asking questions that we may not know the answer to is uncomfortable. No one wants to feel like they don’t know the answer. What I have seen though over the 20+ years of working with all kinds of people is that often our bodies will create feelings of uncomfortableness and inconvenience to let us know that we are on a much deeper level, asking ourselves big questions that we have may not have the answer to. We are, throughout our lives, many times at a cross-roads, being faced with decisions that we are afraid to make because deep down inside WE KNOW the answer.

Part of the uncomfortableness is because problem-solving can’t answer the bigger, most important questions in our lives.

So now you might be thinking: “So you expect me to think that the sciatica that I walk into your office with, that I should not think about ‘is it the nerve or disc or muscle’ and rather you want me to ask myself whether or not my soul is happy?”

Short answer: Yes.

Which way to go?
Are you living the life?