Problem vs. Challenge
Our lives are filled with various experiences, and not all of them are good. Every person knows the meaning of the word Problem. Usually, we do not have a good association with this word. Difficult situations are never pleasant, and a lot of times it means destruction for us. We all naturally try to avoid problems and also naturally we react negatively when we face them.
I want to invite you to see another side of the problem. When we look at the bigger picture – difficulties are just the same part of life as everything else that we consider good. We are not going to avoid them as much as we would like to. Struggles can play two roles in our lives, and I believe we have a big influence on which role they will be playing.
Problems may lead us to the anxiety, fear and even despair, and they also can make us stronger, strengthen our faith, teach us to not give up, but aim for the goal. Challenges can either break us or make us stronger, and it depends only on us what kind of end result we are going to have. How we are going to cope with them depends on our faith, attitude and our actions. I have learned to see a lot of good in problems. In fact, difficulties were to my benefit.
After getting into a car accident and losing both of my legs and having my left arm paralyzed, I had to go through an enormous physical and emotional pain and face a lot of challenging obstacles while living in my home country, Lithuania. Upon my arrival to the United States, some of the issues resolved right away, because here there is a different access for the wheelchair users and a different climate. However, there were other issues that needed to be solved. With time I began seeing problems from a different perspective. I started seeing them as the same part of life just as joy and success, and I accept them naturally as all other life circumstances.
If we see our situation as a big problem and will focus on how bad it is and how difficult it is to improve it – we will immediately have negative feelings. The more we think about its complexity, negative feelings will increase. Soon enough we will get anxious, worried, and fearful and eventually we may even get panic. It is very difficult to make a wise decision being in such inner state, would you agree?
Have you ever noticed that the more you focus on the problem and its complexity, the more difficult it seems to you? The more complicated it seems, the worse you feel, and eventually, you don’t even know what to do about it. When you choose to focus only on your problem itself, it is difficult to see the solution. You feel stuck and it doesn’t even make sense to make any efforts to improve the situation because you simply don’t see that it can be improved. Finally, there is a temptation to just give up on it and let it be.
Let’s see if a different perspective about difficult circumstances can make a difference. How about if you look at it not as a Problem, but as a Challenge that has a solution?
What is the solution? That is going to be your challenge – to find it and implement it. Do you know a game The Rubik’s Cube? I remember those times when in my childhood my brother and I would turn that magic cube trying to put all those colors together. It was difficult and often times we couldn’t win. But we still kept playing it. We clearly understood that the point of this puzzle game was to find a way how to put all those various colors in a way that each side of the cube was the solid color. We knew that there must be a way and we looked for it. There were days when we’d lose our patience and pass it on to Mom or Dad, so they could try it. But on the next day, we’d take it back and again tried to solve that puzzle. Why would we take it again and again despite how difficult it was to find that mysterious solution? It’s because we knew that there was a way to arrange that puzzle cube in solid colors, we were challenged to find a way, and we were determined to find it. If you did not have a chance to play this puzzle game, pick another challenging game that you played. Remember how you looked at it and what was your mindset, why would you go back to that game over and over again, and played it until you had the victory. Because you knew there must be a way, right?
What if you looked at the difficult circumstances the same way? Try to look at them in the same way as you looked at the game that challenged you. Remember yourself when you were a kid, how you, sincerely believing that there must be a way, kept trying to find a solution for that puzzle game. And you found it, right?
Your current situation also has a way out. What is that way? I don’t know. But you can find it if you look for it with such determination and enthusiasm as you had while playing that game. Your life difficulties are your Rubik’s Cube. It is given to you to find its solution. Problems are there for you to learn and make you stronger, not to break you down.
When facing a difficult situation, it is important to control our perspective about it. The situation is solely a plain fact. What kind of feelings we are going to have and what we are going to do about it, greatly depends on our perspective about that fact. It is important how we interpret what it means to us and what kind of question we ask ourselves.
When you face a situation that is difficult, instead of calling it a “problem”, focusing on its difficulty, think of it as your challenge that you need to resolve. Only by asking yourself questions that will direct your mind to seek for the solution you will find the solution.
Ask yourself questions that will make you look at the situation from another perspective:
- If this situation is a Win/Win – what’s in it for me?
- Is this a punishment or is this a lesson?
- What can I learn from this?
- What can I appreciate about this situation?
- What do I receive from this situation, which I wouldn’t have received if this didn’t happen?
- If I see this situation as a challenge to myself… Maybe there is something for me to learn, improve some character traits or something else… What would that be?
- What would be ideal outcome from this situation?
- Where is the solution to this?
- What needs to happen to have my desired outcome?
- What possible options can I see that would make my situation better/improved/resolved?
- If I decide to have fun with this, what could I laugh about this situation?
It is important to see the situation not worse than it is. Take is a plain fact and make sure to direct your mind to seek the solution. Focus on the good side and on the solution. And, do whatever it takes to resolve it. Remember, you will make a big impact on whether your difficulty will remain to be a problem, or it will be resolved.
If you decide to fight your battles until you win, and seek the strength from the Lord in your prayers, you will overcome. And you will come out of it stronger than you were before.
Be strong. Be determined and persistent. Be unstoppable.