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We all encounter life struggles, things we wrestle with. Problems and challenges in life are unavoidable. But the way you approach them decides whether they become a struggle or not.

Struggle is self-reinforcing, so if you are struggling with something the chances are you are unwittingly maintaining the thing you are struggling with.This is not to say that you have created the problem, or that there is somehow ‘fault’ involved, or that you meant it to be that way. It is just that our efforts to change things very often reinforce or perpetuate the ‘problem’.

So here are some thoughts if you would rather move forward instead of fighting with yourself:

  • Do something different. That’s what is usually urgently required when something we are doing isn’t working, right?
  • Give up the struggle, acceptance is the first step to surmounting a difficulty. This means accepting that it is happening. I’m not asking you to agree with anything that you think is unfair or unjust, just to accept that it is the way it is.
  • Do a 180 degree turn, in other words, do the opposite of what you have been doing to try to fix the problem*
  • Call a truce with yourself. Give yourself a day off from worrying about the problem. Apart from giving you a break to restore your energies, remember that the attempted solution very often helps to maintain the problem (or make it worse).

Taking time off also gives you time to observe what’s going on a round you. When you are totally focused on a problem that’s is all we generally can see. Stepping back allows us to reappraise the situation and notice as things begin to change.

Look out for positive changes, however small, as they begin to happen. They are always there, but failure to notice small changes means we can’t act to make them grow.

See also:

Watzlawick, P. et al, (2011), Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution, Norton, New York.

This is not my idea, I got it from the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, when I attended some training there years ago.

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