Viewing Problems As Opportunities
It is a universal principle that adversity in life carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. This principle is as certain as the law of gravity. Most people are unaware of this fact and during the difficult times they only experience a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Everyone has known discouragement and fear but there is hope in knowing that there is a positive solution to every challenge you will ever face in life.
Remember back to those times in which you had problems and you were able to turn them around into advantages. Every one of us has had such experiences. When I first learned about the principle to look at problems as opportunities, I thought it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. Fortunately, I had already learned that just because I disagreed with something, it does not mean that it is wrong. So after chewing on this concept for a while I realized that all problems have a gift. All problems are an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to better ourselves.
I find a lot of comfort from reading the stories in the Bible. Each of these men and women experienced self doubt and discouragement. The patients that I work with often exemplify the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. Those who gave this principle a worthy effort found the answers they needed to turn their lives around. It is important that you keep your mind on the things that you want and off of the things that you do not want.
I once had a Sunday school teacher who used to say “Inside each of us we have two dogs running around, a negative dog and a positive dog.” He would then ask, “If these two dogs were to get into a fight, which one would win?” His answer was “The one you feed the most.” Which one of your dogs are you feeding the most? You and only you decide where you place your energy. You must give yourself a focal point. If you get off track, you must redirect yourself towards feeding your positive dog.
Stop wasting your time trying to blame someone else for your troubles. This will only cause you to become stuck and frustrated. I want to encourage you to stop using the word “problems”. Instead, replace it with the words “challenges” or “opportunities”. When you are in the middle of problems and you focus your attention on your problems, what do you get? More problems. Whatever you put your energy into, it grows, just like a plant will grow when the sun shines its energy onto it.
Life is constantly handling out cards. Some of them you want, some of them you do not want, and a lot of them you never expected. We are all dealt cards like these. You do not always have a choice about which cards you are dealt but you always have a choice in how you play your cards. A philosophy that is quite helpful is the mind set of: “It’s not what happens to me, it’s what I do about it.” Your fears will shackle you down and create a feeling of being trapped and helpless. Remember that you were meant to soar.
God has given you the ability you need to face and resolve the challenges of life. He has supplied you with a mechanism within your brain called your reticular activating system. The mechanism that helps you tune into the things which will then fill your mind. Here is an example that has happened to most of us — Think back to the last time you purchased a car. Before you bought the car you had not noticed many of them, but after you drove it off the lot you started noticing them all over the place. This is because you had made the car a part of your life and as a result your brain started tuning into similar information.
How this mechanism applies to you and your problem solving strategies is simple. If you believe that “Life stinks and then you die,” you will be led towards people, experiences, newspaper articles, etc. that validate this belief. On the other hand, if you hold positive expectations for your life, you will be led towards people, experiences, books, etc. that will validate this belief. It is all a matter of focus. You create your own destiny. Apply some faith to this universal certainty. Pray for divine guidance. With each victory from your use of this concept you will grow stronger and your path in life will bring a clarity of purpose.
Another point which enhances this solution oriented view of life is definiteness of purpose. A tremendous amount of clarity comes from answer the question, “What do I want out of life?” Knowing what you want places you in the right direction. Vague answers will bring only vague results. Be absolutely specific. You will become more alert to opportunities around you. You will have increased recognition of available resources. Don’t be afraid to set big goals for yourself. Remember that “It’s not what you have that counts, it’s what you do with what you have.” Be willing to take life on. Don’t be afraid to take positive risks. You were born with all of the necessary abilities to succeed in life. You are big enough to meet the challenges. You are a masterpiece. You are one of a kind. Just because others may have tried and failed, it does not mean that you will fail. Your uniqueness is often the key that makes the difference where others have failed before. Do your best in all that you do. Go the extra mile by being one of the few who looks at their problems as opportunities.
Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. Mark Webb is also the author of How To Be A Great Partner and founder of Partner Focused Relationships™. Sign up for Mark Webb’s “Relationship Strategies” Ezine ($100 Value). Just visit his website at http://www.powerfulrelationshipadvice.com or http://www.therelationshipspecialist.com