what_are_problems

Do you love your problems?

It would be helpful, really ūüôā

Problems are … difficulties, possibilities, opportunities

A problem is a perceived gap between the actual state and a desired state. This may present itself as either a difficulty you face in life, or a question, puzzle or dilemma to be answered or solved (including homework tasks or math or engineering questions).

I love the definition above because it touches the core of what a problem is. It says about perception and the gap. A problem is therefore in the eye of the beholder. It is personal. Hence, problem solving is personal too and requires an action to close the gap.
 
We will focus here the first type of the problems.

Life difficulties

Some problems are natural and easy challenges in fact. They are the next step on your development path. These are usually small variations of the obstacles that you successfully overcome in the past. They require a stretch but within your possibilities.

Some problems are real difficulties that you have not yet learned to handle well. They may lie far outside your comfort zone and/or require either a personal change or a change of circumstances (family, home or work). Solving these types of problems is a key to life mastery indeed.

Some problems strike hard. These are usually the sudden and unexpected blows or turns in life. They can become a sudden illness, death, reallocation or loss. They may evoke fear, panic or terror. Your heart may feel squashed and you may feel contracted. You are terrified, overwhelmed and lost.

Ultimately you will go through the dark hours and let the emotions flow freely. In doing so, you are down to your true power and perseverance. Only when the emotions are released, you can approach the problems at hand.

Some problems (read: areas of growth) are your good “friends”. They have been with you for years but you avoided to take the responsibility for a change to happen. Your challenge is to become ready first. Ready, to arrive at a breakthrough moment in which you cannot handle the problems any more.

This is usually a moment of Self-realization in which you discover that the path you are on is not the one you would like to follow or when the when the consequences of the given behavior (say, from the lack of change) are more profound than the value of this behavior.

Such an inspiration may go about small things.

It can be an email from a friend telling you how much he appreciated your sound advice that makes you decide to quit your job and start a consulting business.

It can be a time when kids are particularly cheeky when you simply feel it’s enough for you to be a stay-at-home mum.

It can be a brief look into a mirror to realize how bad your posture is in order to subscribe to the regime of posture correcting exercises (BTW: the Egoscue’s health trough motion ones are super good indeed).

Whatever.

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The real difficulty problems are the ones to tackle. 

Why?

Because if you know how to solve them, all other types of problems will ultimately arrive at this phase and can be tackled as well.

The problems aka real difficulties

These problems are caused by perceptions from your Conscious Self dwelling outside your Operational point of Action (or Power). If you perceive a problem, it means you are living with a situation without holding an intention or possibility of taking the action in the Now to tackle it.

The real difficulty problems arise because you

  1. don’t sufficiently understand the issues
  2. don’t accept the facts and/or the change to happen
  3. don’t take the right decision
  4. don’t take the right actions

When a problem occurs, resistance usually hits with a full blow.

Why?

Because you are confused, overwhelmed, insecure or simply afraid at the presence of Unknown. Ultimately, one of the three scenarios is usually there:

1) You don’t understand the issues and don’t know what to do (or how to do it). You are often paralyzed by uncertainty and afraid of the unknown. As a result, you avoid taking action.

2) You don’t know what to do but you keep taking arbitrary actions for the sake of feeling that we are doing something to maintain the illusion of progress (instead of being still).

3) You know what to do but you don’t like the actions involved (the lack of decision) and are afraid of the consequences of these actions (the lack of will to proceed).

Whatever the scenario, you can move past your doubts or inaction. You need to use strategic problem solving approaches. As these form a necessary skill of any intelligent person, learning them will only bring you benefits. Anybody can master the related process, I believe.

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Love your problems

Do you love your problems? This would be helpful, indeed.

In the end your problems, are yours. This means they are a part of who you are and whom you are becoming. When you accept to love your problems, they are not enemies neither alien creatures anymore. They will start to work in your favor, and, as a result,  you will focus on the solutions with breeze.

There are two great approaches to solve your personal problems. And what is best, they are highly effective, once you know how to use the techniques well.

I will write about them in the next post ūüėČ

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Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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This post is inspired by The Acorn Principle book.

“This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow –
as the night the day – thou cans’t not be false to any man.”

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

acorn

You are an acorn

The acorn principle tells you to look inside and discover what is the seed of your being. The metaphor is for you being an acorn who is going to develop into an oak tree. If you provide the right conditions and circumstances that fulfill and exceed the needs of an acorn, you are going to become a magnificent oak tree. Or in other words, your fastest, easiest and most enjoyable growth comes from your natural talents and skills.

The challenge however is that we do not appreciate this little acorn seed inside us as we feel attracted by the skills and features of other trees. We usually think they are better equipped, more talented or more successful than we are. Other trees look much more impressive than we, more flexible, much stronger, or better rooted. We look at other trees and want to be like them. So, we struggle.

Others make you believe you are a pine

Parents, teachers, managers, supervisors and other authorities often project on us what they believe is good for us. They see us through their own perception filters, ideas, unfulfilled dreams or ambitions. They want to shape us accordingly. So, they often get it backwards.

They look at the little acorn that they see inside you and say “Oh, I see a great potential in you. You are already knowledgeable and can learn fast. If you learn more of the pine trade, follow the pine courses, with some hard work you can become a fantastic pine tree. And yes, we need more pine trees around. They make a good living.”

The truth is that an acorn can only become an oak tree no matter what you want it to become. If you focus on modelling the pine approach and learning the pine skills, even if they serve you well, they will not help you identify with the oakness in you. You will become a hugely underdeveloped oak tree with a great set of pine skills, perhaps.

But …

you will miss a mark as you will neither become a pine tree nor a satisfied oak tree. This may lead you to chaos, confusion or even identity crisis. You may hope to look like a pine tree but since you hold an oak consciousness inside, you may become a hybrid tree at best, feeling alien both with pines and with oaks.

Now, the manager / teacher / parent / supervisor will say, “So, you need to become a giant pine tree. There is a great future for pine trees indeed. I am going to help you to develop your pine skills.” A parent may say “Pine trees are evergreen and have such an easy life. You need to go to this school as it is the best in town for pine trees. You also need to polish your pine tree language so that you can communicate better with pine trees. And you need tutoring from pine math to optimize the position and growth of your branches. We will help you to become the most beautiful pine tree in the area.”

A manager may say “You need to start networking with pine trees. Start modelling their skills and approaches to problem solving. Take a successful Pine tree to a lunch and learn the secrets. And here is the training, The Tricks and Techniques of the Pine Trees, that you need to go through. And here is a book with short biographies of the greatest Pine Trees ever. Please study also The Power of Positive Pine thinking by Albert Pine.”

You are going to become an oak tree

But the truth is pretty obvious. Inside, you are going to be an oak tree, no matter the conditioning, affirmations, training, hanging out with pine trees around and so on. The training into the secrets of pine trees may be valuable and widen your horizons broadly. I don’t want you to discard this. Learning the skills of other trees will only help you to become a wise, knwoledgable and strong tree. But you need to develop your oakness first! This is your foundation.

If you are pushed in a direction of pineness without being aware of the oakness inside you, you may end up dissatisfied and confused at least, or deeply unhappy and depressed at worst. And as a result you will become an insecure, weak and weird oak tree.

Nurture your oakness

A better question of a parent / teacher/ manager is “What is the true nature of your being?” or “How can I cultivate this nature into the best potential?”. The parent may say “Oh, I recognize a little acorn seed in you. How great it is! Let’s sign up for an acorn development course and see how you like it.” The manager may say then “I see an acorn seed in you. Let’s investigate how to make your acorn skills stronger.”

Now parents, teachers, managers, supervisors or authorities can perfectly use the same techniques as before to encourage the development of our seed. But now with the focus on an acorn. This is going to be a great journey because the nature is nurtured in the best way.

In reality we have many seeds inside us. It takes time to recognize who we are and what we aspire for. It takes time to accept ourselves and know ourselves. It takes courage to look behind the veil of conditioning, society and cultural norms, pleasing family and others and so on. It takes courage to accept who we are: our consciousness, our past, our deeds, our ideas, our purpose and our vision.

Through self-retrospection and quieting of mind, being alone in the nature, you can start to listen to a little voice inside you. You, who wants to emerge from the shells of an acorn into a powerful oak tree. Let it happen.

The moral

The moral of this story is twofold. First, it is about knowing oneself and being authentic. Secondly, it is appreciating the authenticy of others. So, the challenges are to:

1. Know yourself. Appreciate who you are. Be authentic.
Grow into a magnificent oak tree.

  • Take the time to find out who you are. Every journey begins with questions.

Who are you?
What do you want from life?
What are your desires?
What are your ambitions?
What do you want to experience?
What do you want to develop?
How do you want to see yourself in one year time, 5-year time and 10-year time?

2. Value yourself as you are. Value others as they are. We are all God’s seeds in development.

It is your task to help yourself and others grow along the natural talents and gifts so that we can all become the most magnificent trees ever, having their own places in the Forest.

Remember this is the Forest we all live in.

Let it be a great place.

***

Photo courtesy Happy Days Photos and Art, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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Other inspirational or educational posts:

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you_are_becoming

Photo credit Fe Langdon, available on Flickr under Creative Commons.

How we say

One of the major obstacles in your development is to perceive yourself as a static thing. Similarly, one of the most limiting ways for a solution-focus is to look at a situation or problem as an event frozen in time.  So you say:

“I am ill.”
“You are a poor manager.”
“He is stupid.”
“This is the way things are.”

These are facts and nothing can be done about it. It seems. While the statements above may look innocent, they are not. In fact, they act dangerously beneath the observable surface.

Are you one of the people who often heard as a child¬†“You are a bad girl/boy” or “You are stupid”?

Did you believe that? I did.

It only takes a single authority (parent/grandma/older friend/teacher) to repeat such a statement a few times to make you accept it as a truth. Without questioning. Would it make any difference for you to have heard instead “You have behaved stupidly this time. What can we/you do next time so that you can improve?”

It would. For me.

Identity

The language construction “I am X” describes an equivalence between “I” and the very thing “X”. In such a statement an identification is taking place. If you keep repeating to yourself “I am stupid” you begin to identify with what you consider as “stupid behaviors” or “stupid people”. At some point you will start to model such a behavior more often, even unconsciously, simply because you have associated yourself with stupidity.

So, if you say “I am X” or “You are Y”, such statements act as naming on a deep, subconscious level. We make an equivalence and once we have taken it for granted, such an equivalence begin to hold forever. You stick the labels and they stay.

How to set yourself free

The first step is a shift in perception. Instead of looking at yourself as an Event, the key is to look at yourself as a Process.

You are not your thoughts.
You are NOT your emotions.
You are not your behaviors.
You are NOT your skills.
You are not  your actions.
You are NOT your achievements.
You are not your mood.
You are NOT your products.
You are not your failures.
You are NOT your problems.
You are not your parents.
You are NOT your wife/husband/kids.
You are not your car.
You are NOT your house.
You are not your job.
You are NOT your hobby.
….

While all the elements above may be very important to you and whom you have become, none of them is you. They are parts of who you are but you are much greater than their sum. If you choose to identify with any of them you may become vulnerable, fixated and stuck. And you may slow down any progress to a high degree.

For instance I used to identify with my work so I was hurt by people criticizing my research approach. I saw work as an extension of myself. As a result, it used to take me a substantial amount of time for an emotional processing before I could deal with criticism and work towards a further improvement of the ideas and applications. It was a waste of my emotional resources to suffer unnecessarily.

I am sure you know other people who are hurt or emotionally upset when somebody criticizes their approach or behavior, or when something happens with their car, or even when their children do not perform well to the expectations. It all comes from our deep identification with the Events. Be it results, attitude or children’s behavior.

Who you are

Your particular thoughts, emotions, behaviors, skills, actions, initiatives, possessions, responsibilities, failures and achievements are Events.

So, who are you?

You are simply a Process allowing, choosing, supporting and maintaining these Events. You are a Journey. Through Life.

You are not a static, frozen in time Joe. You are a Process of Joe.
You are a continuously learning and developing conscious being.
You have become and you are becoming.

Your goal is to take care of the Process to maintain it daily so that the habits you choose serve you through Time.

Watch your language

The second important point for becoming is to watch your language. The idea is to focus on describing the situation or event instead of making identity statements. Say to your child “You have not behaved kindly this time” instead of “You are a bad boy”. Say, “I’ve been searching for a new job” instead of “I am jobless”. Say, “I have not become wealthy yet, but I am taking my steps towards it” instead of “I am poor”. Say, “You have not organized your workplace in the best way last week” instead of “You are a muddler”. And so on.

Language is very important in describing and naming how you see yourself.  For a change to happen, you need to act differently and speak differently. Watch what you say and how you say it.  When you change how you describe yourself, your life, your problems and your challenges, you will begin to act accordingly. You will redirect your Process towards a better You.

Being a Process

Why does it make a difference to perceive yourself as a Process?

The key concept is that by being a Process you are already in motion. You are changing and evolving by the very nature of a process. Whatever happens, any failure, misjudgement or difficulty, any blessing, winning or achievement, change is just behind the door. You deeply know it and you accept it. You also know that change is the only stability you have. It makes you conscious to live in the moment and appreciate all the blessings that come to your life now. And it makes you aware that any difficulty, even the most horrendous, will eventually pass. Through the Process you can transform it.

By seeing yourself as a Process you begin to detach emotionally from the outcomes and the results while you are taking initiatives in the given moment. Action redirects the Process. And you know that even small steps repeated frequently enough can lead you far. In your Journey.

When you see yourself as a Process you begin to gain power, responsibility and control over your life. While you cannot control the majority of events, you can take care that the Process you are will equip you well to handle whatever comes. You begin to live by Gratitude and Love. To others and God.

You are becoming

You may not have made the best progress in your life yet but you can choose to start doing it now. In every moment you can abandon old patterns and choose the ones which serve you. By being a Process – a developing human being – you can grow into a greatness.

Spin.
Stir it up.
Move.

You are experiencing. You are becoming. Your best conscious Self.

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event_process

Go x 3

We live in the times of Events.

Things happen. Meetings take place. Decisions are made.
There is rush, rush, rush. There is an endless to-do list.

Does it sound familiar? I bet, it does.

We want to communicate. Fast.
We want to get the results. Fast.
We want to get rich. Fast.

We want the easy, pain-free, quick fixes. And fast solutions.

Even better, we want it instant.

Instant messaging.
Instant coffee.
Instant food.
Instant education.
Instant cure.
Instant banking.

Instant life?

This has something to do with:

  1. the perception that the quality of life depends on the amounts of things, people and events we squeeze in,
  2. our weird impulse for an instant gratification.

The latter is an emotional pleasure related to getting what we want or reaching a goal. We want the very thing and we want it now. Short-term pleasure is just before our eyes, while long-term effects are hidden behind the clouds.

You want coffee. You get it.
You want the newest ipad. You buy it.
You want a fast laptop. You make it happen now.
You want these fancy trainers. Sure, you deserve them.

Following such impulses leads to overindulgence of all kinds and overspending.  It requires a conscious thought to overcome this.

Events are cool

Events are cool. They are shining spikes in our life experience. Glitter and glamor. Sweetness and refreshment. Fun and excitement. Thrill and pleasure. You name it! And while Events and Results are important, they are just single occurrences.

  • Why it is easy to eat one perfectly healthy meal, but it is difficult to eat them every day?
  • Why it is easy to go to a course, but it is difficult to practice what you learn?
  • Why is it easy to buy a guitar, but difficult to play?
  • Why is it easy to text or tweet, but difficult to write an article?

The difficulty arises from the gap between an Event and a Process.
It is easy to get excited and fire up your motivation for a one-time effort: the Event.
It is difficult to maintain the same fire for a repeated application: the Process.

Processes are maintenance

Processes are often boring. They are about systems, maintenance and practice. There is hardly any extra thrill or excitement, yet it is the processes that are key to the mastery of your life. They are about a long-term focus.

They are about 3P: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance.

What Events begin, Processes master

An Event is to get your attention.

To kick your butt. To make you think. To inspire you. To challenge you. To ask for an action.

Yes, the Events are necessary.

Some are entertainment. Some are interesting. Some are O.K.
And some are life-changing.
They shock. They shake. They shift.
Your view. Your beliefs. Your balance.

But yet, they only make sense if, after a genius spark, a suitable Process follows.

  • A headache is an Event, but being healthy is a Process.
  • A party is an Event, but a workday is a Process.
  • A diploma/license is an Event, but learning is a Process.
  • A car accident is an Event, but applying the conclusions is a Process.

Birth is an Event, but life is a Process.

Event vs Process

The difference between an Event and a Process can be summarized below:

EVENT PROCESS
Is a calendar issue Is a habit/culture issue
About decisions About development
Motivates / Inspires people Matures people
Challenges people Changes people (permanently)

 

To better understand the differences, watch this hilarious explanation:

You choose

You can pretend to be ignorant about it. To slide vigorously over the Events, and live from party to party, from paycheque to paycheque, from a small talk to a small talk. You can pretend you are above all this boring stuff that others are after. You can believe that life holds a different glamorous scenario for you. In the end you are a unique and talented being, aren’t you? You can apply the routine but why bother if you can choose the easy way.

Yet, the easy way will leave you lonely, empty and insecure. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in derail, without meaning and with little accomplishment. There are other guys, as gifted and genius as you are, waiting for you in this Pit.

The way out of the Pit is by taking the bull by its horns. Responsibility. Response-ability.

Event is to Process as Childhood is to Maturity

As you embrace childhood into your maturity, use the spark from an Event to continue with the Process. And any process is about habits or a routine. Perhaps dull, boring and repetitive actions. The same time of the day, week and month. For years to come.

Consciously chosen.

And it is the joy of the action itself, of the training, of the work, of the habit that keeps you moving. Towards a more conscious you.

It is the habit of exercising and eating whole foods that will keep you well.
It is the habit of active listening to make your relation blossom.
It is the habit of relaxing to keep you stress free.
It is the habit of honesty to let you become a content adult.
It is the habit of doing the first things first before allowing for any other disturbance.

You choose.

Decision.
Focus.
System.
Implementation.

Every day in order to keep your Processes running well.

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Look at your life from the perspective of a Process. It will make a difference.

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The image above shows a beautiful work by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

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knowing

Imagine your brain.

Hopefully, you saw a picture of a human brain at some point in life so you can imagine it now ;). A rough idea is enough.

The human brain

The cerebrum with its gray matter is the largest part of your brain. It lies around most other structures of the brain and plays a role in building intelligence and wisdom. (The heart and the gut system play a role as well.)

The cerebrum is divided into the right and left hemispheres. The common generalization is that the left hemisphere is responsible for analysis, rational thought, linearity or order, while the right hemisphere is responsible for synthesis, emotion, non-linearity and art. In practice, the division is not so clear as the same function can be present in both hemispheres but in different degrees. But there is usually a strong dominance of one hemisphere or another for the given task.

Both hemispheres are connected by corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve fibers in the middle of the brain. The corpus callosum allows the hemispheres to communicate to each other by exchanging motor, sensory, and cognitive information. In a well-functioning brain, there is a constant vibration in the corpus callosum, where information and learned patterns cross with the feelings and holistic views.

The Loop

So, we have Knowledge and Emotion, which in a simplified view can refer to the left and right hemispheres, accordingly. And there is the meeting point, the connection between them – the corpus callosum. And this is a point where the Intelligent Knowing occurs.

We can also look at the Knowledge-Emotion loop somewhat differently. The function of the brain is to acquire Knowledge. All the learning we do and memories we store become the ingredients of Knowledge.  The function of the heart-gut system is to supervise the Flow and feel Emotion. The Inspired Knowing occurs then in the heart. Later the Intelligent and Inspired Knowings are combined.

In practice, this high level integration of Knowledge and Emotion is more complex than I’ve just described. There are possibly many loops of communication between brain and heart, based on various networks of nerves such as solar plexus.

Knowledge vs Knowing

Note that Knowing is very different than Knowledge.  The key understanding is that Knowledge is the result of learning, an outcome of inquiry, analysis, reflection and conclusion. It can be collected, explained, structured or enumerated. It is a half of the whole. The other half is Emotion. Emotion allows us to experience and value the experience, to color things and give additional meaning.

Knowing is the spark at intersection, occurring in a moment in which you paint Knowledge and Emotion on the canvas of perception. It is an integration process where flow happens both ways.

Knowledge is external. Knowing is internal.
Knowledge is historical. Knowing is in a moment.
Knowledge is common. Knowing is personal.
Knowledge is experienced or shared by many. Knowing is experienced by you.
Knowledge is based on collected observations. Knowing is based on a perception in a moment.
Knowledge is passive. Knowing is active.
Knowledge is a product. Knowing is a process.

Life is a dynamic experience. Knowledge is the necessary foundation of life, but it has to be constantly updated and transformed. Sometimes in a revolutionary way.

When Knowledge is challenged, learning will take place. Old patterns will be questioned and replaced by new ones. This is only allowed if your Emotional Self accepts it. So, any significant progress requires an informative balance between Emotion and Knowledge (rational thought). And this equilibrium is achieved at the point of Knowing.

Tell me, are you Knowledge-able or Knowing-able?

Your Inner Knowing is already there. Recognize it.

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For those who pay attention, this short post is of course about Intuition. From a different point view.

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Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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