I choose to believe every problem has a solution.
I’m not saying YOU should believe it. I’m not even saying it’s right.
I’m saying that’s something I CHOOSE to believe, because it’s a belief that helps empower me day to day. It makes more options available to me. It helps manage my mood.
Our beliefs can do that— they can impact everything from how hard we’re willing and able to work, to how long we’ll persist in something, to what resources we’re willing to access.
Because I’ve chosen to believe that every problem has a solution, it means I’m often willing to try many approaches and access many resources before I even think about giving up.
And when I do think about “giving up,” it’s rarely in terms of “this is hopeless, I’m just not going to try anymore.” It’s usually in terms of, “I’m not getting anywhere with my current energy level and tools; I’m going to beat a tactical retreat here, press the reset button, and maybe attack this from a different perspective later.”
It may or may not be true that every problem has a solution— but that’s hardly the point.
If I went into challenges thinking “look, there are just some problems without solutions,” my brain would be predisposed toward looking for proof that the problem in front of me was one of those unsolvable problems.
My brain would be wired to overlook potential solutions, because our brains always want to confirm what they already believe.
I know for a fact that my belief that every problem has a solution has led me to work harder to solve problems that I otherwise would have probably given up on.
I also know that my belief that every problem has a solution has led me to access more and different resources than I would have otherwise in the quest to find solutions to particularly difficult problems.
Whether it is objectively true that every problem has a solution isn’t the point. I can’t actually prove that every problem has a solution; nor can anyone else prove that there are problems that don’t have solutions. The best anyone can ever do is maybe prove that a particular problem doesn’t seem solvable with the resources we currently have available…which is very different from saying, “this problem can’t be solved.”
Our beliefs are important because they frame the discussion and direct our focus.
Do your beliefs work for you, or against you?
Some people raise objections to this idea, because they point out that they just can’t arbitrarily change beliefs because some beliefs might happen to be more productive.
My response to this is, then fake it.
Act is if you believe something differently, just for a moment. Try it out.
For example: if you don’t happen to believe every problem has a solution…what would it be like if you just PRETENDED you believed that for a minute?
You don’t have to completely buy in.
You just have to BEHAVE— for a minute— as if you do buy in.
In this example, if you behaved AS IF you believe every problem has a solution…chances are you’d work longer and harder to solve certain problems you might otherwise have given up on.
Where’s the downside to that?
If you act AS IF certain things were true, even if you don’t believe them to be…you actually don’t lose much of anything.
If you don’t truly believe you can stay sober, but you act AS IF you believe you can stay sober…what have you lost? Chances are this “fake” belief will only lead you to staying sober longer than you otherwise would. (People who don’t believe they can stay sober are, all too often, just waiting for the stressor or opportunity to use that’s going to lead them back down the rabbit hole.)
If you don’t truly believe you can recover from PTSD, but you act AS IF you can recover from PTSD…what have you lost? You’ll go to therapy and do the therapy assignments. (People who don’t believe they can truly recover have little incentive to go to therapy or do the assignments…because why bother, if they don’t believe they can succeed?)
It’s easier to play “act as if” with some believes than others, certainly. I’m not saying that every belief is easy or simple to just “try on.”
But take a look at your worldview. Do you have beliefs that are disabling to your level of motivation?
Try chucking them to the curb…just in theory. Just act as if.
Try out a different set of lenses.
See how the world looks.
See what you’re willing to do.
See what you might have missed.
You have nothing to lose.
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