Do you really want to solve your problems? Like, really, really?

Some people don’t.

Oh, we all say we do. We have problems, most of which boil down to “I don’t like the way I feel.” And, as I covered in my last blog post, problems beg for solutions– ideally solutons that actually solve the problems, and which don’t create more, bigger problems.

We don’t want to be that person who acknowledges they have problems, then does nothing to fix them. I mean, what would other people think? They’d think we’re lazy, or maybe we just like to complain. Maybe they’ll think we just want attention. No, we can’t be seen by other people as one of “those” people. If we’re going to acknowledge we have problems, we have to at least make a show of trying to solve those problems. Right?

I mean, I guess.

The fact of the matter is, there are multiple reasons why some people– man people, actually– don’t take steps to solve their problems. And it’s usually not because they enjoy the “attention” they supposedly get from having problems.

Usually, they’re afraid.

After all– what happens if they make an active attempt to solve their problem, and it doesn’t work? People might think they’re terrible problem solvers. People might think they’re failures. Maybe they themselves will think they’re failures.

What happens if I make an active attempt to solve my problem, and I discover that the problem is even bigger or more deeply rooted than I thought it was? Woof. That’s a scary prospect. By not even trying to solve my problem, I spare myself that terrifying possibility, at least.

What happens if I try to solve my problem, and it becomes apparent that I don’t have the first clue how to go about solving it, because I don’t have the right information or tools to do it? That’d be embarrassing and disheartening. Best to save myself that trouble.

What happens if I try to solve my problem, and…I actually solve it? Shit, then I might be in real trouble. I might have to face other problems in my life that this problem was distracting me from. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PROBLEMS THERE ARE IN MY LIFE THAT I DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT AS LONG AS I HAVE THIS PROBLEM ON MY PLATE?!

See, we don’t have to be lazy, stupid, or crazy to avoid actively trying to solve our problems. We can just be garden-variety afraid of trying. Problems, almost by definition, are intimidating. To not only acknowledge, but actively confront the problems that keep us from the life we’d prefer to be living? That takes courage, man. And, unfortunately, courage really isn’t a character trait that our culture is particularly good at cultivating. A lot of us, including me at times, are straight up cowards in the face of our problems.

It may not be our fault. We’ve frequently been taught to be and rewarded for being cowards. There are many people in the world who profit off of our cowardice. People who prefer that we not solve our problems– because people with problems are easier to control, easier to seduce, easier to sell things to, easier to bully.

The fact is, we usually have, or can develop, the psychological tools we need to solve our problems.

Learning what to do is often the easy part.

Developing the courage to solve our problems, knowing that we might fail in the attempt, have to take multiple stabs at solving them, might have to cope with feelings of embarrassment, frustration, confusion, or shame, as we do so?

That’s the real work of therapy.


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