Are You Focusing On The Right Part Of The Problem?

When we feel stuck trying to solve a problem that appears unsolvable, we may need to step back, re-evaluate, and find another point of entry if we are going to find the solutions we seek. This, of course, is not always an obvious choice. As we attempt to untie one particular knot in the chain, we can become consumed with only that one singular twist. We can forget as our focus narrows that there may be many other parts of the chain to be treated, smoothed, and made right. If what you are doing is not working, regardless of how many ways you try to unfurl the knot, then you may need to leave it be. Instead, follow the string in either direction and find another knot on which to work. To disregard other perspectives and possibilities can lead not only to an obsession that steals all your energy, but can also add to your problems in the long run.

When we become obsessed with a problem we cannot seem to fix (a challenge related to a feeling, behavior, person, or event), we can begin to feel frustrated and helpless. Furthermore, we risk becoming desperate for relief as we exhaust ourselves trying to undo the bind in which we find ourselves caught. As a result of all of this, we may not only feel stuck, but also unworthy as we begin to doubt our own abilities to find a way. This type of hyperfocus is a natural occurrence through crisis and unresolved trauma because we either do not have access to our resources or because we forget we even have them. As vision funnels inward, we can become mere shadows of our true selves, only able to see what is directly in front of us and loose sight of the bigger picture. But what about at other times? Why is it, when clarity feels somewhat restored (if only for a moment) that so many of us still struggle to find solutions and to get out of our predicaments? Perhaps, if this is you, it is not what you are doing right now that needs your attention, but rather it may be your focus that needs adjustment:

If you can’t change your own thoughts or situation, perhaps your energy is better invested in trying to change a system or community rather than focusing only on your own symptoms. Stop beating yourself up for something that is not the result of your actions. Connection with others who have similar experience, or who have true empathy, can create a powerful shift.

If you are a perfectionist, stop wasting time on appearances and, instead, work to embrace the mess. Trust that you are where you are supposed to be on the journey and know that countless others are struggling too. Set yourself up for success by shortening your to-do list at the times you feel depleted or at any point you find your lofty expectations are just not realistic. You are wonderfully–and imperfectly–human. Grief is not linear and neither is success.

If you struggle with anxiety no matter what you do to work through it then there is a distinct possibility that you may actually be soaking up the anxieties of those around you. If you are naturally empathetic or a caretaker to others then your risk may run particularly high in this regard. Have boundaries and work to discharge the toxins you absorb from others through ongoing acts of self-love and self-care.

If you struggle with substance abuse, don’t just get hung up in adjusting your habits, but instead dip into the reasons you are struggling. What are you trying to escape? What is it that you think you cannot handle? Deal with that instead. Be honest with yourself and get help if you need it.

If you are obsessed with a person or event, your emotions will more than likely run hot in either direction. Whether you are infatuated or enraged, work to put the images that haunt you aside so that you can work with what lies beneath along with the big feelings these images evoke. That is what needs your attention.

There are many other examples and places to shift focus, but my hope is that you get the idea. You know what to do, and you already have many of the answers. Trust your abilities and learn something new. In the end, it comes down to our willingness to give up trying to control what is not within our grasp to control. The great paradox here being that we actually get control by giving it up. Advocate for systemic change, embrace imperfection, love yourself, and if you can’t fix it, have the courage to let it be. Find another knot in the chain you can effectively pull apart. In truth, solutions are actually rather infinite.

Clear Reflections

What is a problem you are having? What have you already tried to do to fix it?

Is there any other information or resources you have not yet considered to help you solve this problem? What could that be? How could this new information or reason help you adjust your focus?

How can you expand out and look at this from a different perspective?

What is in your control? What is not? What is another way you can “dip in” that might yield better results?

What are your next steps? Take them.

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