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Solving problems: Thought, circumstances, reality April 14, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Fear and Anxiety, Solving Problems.
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When we work on our programs of self-improvement, one of the biggest obstacles to success can be how we think about the problems that we all inevitably face as part of living.

The thought process that we bring to bear on our problems, or significant challenges, can often turn (in our minds) a correctable circumstance(s), into a seemingly unsolvable difficulty.

The real problem we have may be an inability to distinguish between a persistent negative thought and the actual circumstances prompting that thought pattern in our minds.

Following is a hypothetical example

The cascading negative financial thought:

  • I don’t have enough money in the bank; I don’t have a job; I am doomed to a life of financial disaster and poverty

The actual financial circumstances:

  • I have three months living expenses in the bank

The reality financial positives or potential as opposed to the negative financial thought:

  • I can budget and stretch out my savings
  • Three months savings can therefore be a workable financial cushion
  • I want to work and I have marketable skill sets
  • With some effort I can get a temporary or part-time job
  • I can then work towards getting a full-time job
  • Or I can start a part-time home business to generate income

The point is that there can be many additional positives in this situation, but we have to learn to distinguish between our negative thinking on “our problem” and the true circumstances; and recognize the reality positives and potential

Thanks to Dr. Richard Carlson, author of You Can Be Happy No Matter What, for the basic concept I have expanded on in this post.

Carlson’s book provides a method for altering our thought process so we are better able to make the distinction between our thoughts about a personal problem and the actual circumstances pertaining to the problem; and thereby take a proactive, unemotional approach towards a solution.

Dr. Carlson also points out that our “low” moods, which are usually fleeting, can have a large impact on the generation of negative thinking. He provides ideas for combatting this tendency.

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