A normal human being experiences the yin and yang of life every day – the ebb and flow of emotions related to people and events. We are also hugely affected by the Earth’s energies, day and night, the alignment of the planets and the amount of pollution in the atmosphere around us.
Humans are sensitive to everything and if you think about what we are made up of, that figures. We are a conglomeration of minute cells and atoms, molecules, and organisms that keep our clocks ticking every day. We are energy. And everything else around us is energy, the living things (all creatures and plants on the planet) and the non-living things (water, soil, air, and sun).
We feel with our senses and our skin and our hearts. It is a pity that our heads and minds tend to rule our passions these days. It is a pity that our busy lives remove us from ourselves and our connection to Nature and spirituality. Human beings are complex creatures and most human beings deal with problems in their lives every day.
What is a problem? It can be anything from a broken dish to a blocked drain, from a sick child to an overgrown garden. It can be an argument with a partner, a lethargic child who does not want to go to school, or a problem in your own heart that you just cannot deal with. Yes, we create our own problems, and we also help to solve the problems of others.
If you have problems, then you are normal. The way you deal with the problem will separate the problems resolvers with the problem enhancers. Some people love having problems to solve and yet, they have not realized it yet. Some people thrive on drama and getting involved in problems and making problems.
What has happened to the simplicity of life? How can we create a simple life that does not attract problems? Long ago, before the great Industrial Revolution, people lived simple lives, in tune with Nature from whence they got all their resources for living. Food and water, material to build homes with, security and education too.
Our modern society and lives mean that we are never satisfied with this simple life – we are constantly striving for more – more stuff, more money, more friends, more idealism. Stop! Wait! Smell the roses. Did you see that bee in the flower? Did you see your dog’s loving eyes? Did you see your child’s Maths book? Did you smell that fresh apple as you cut it? Did you walk in the hills and marvel at the birds, the flowers and the trees, the sky, and the fresh air?
Let’s take a moment to think about our problems and how we can resolve them in a simple way. Dr. Harpeet Duggal offers us 5 questions that we can ask to try to solve our problems. He uses a system called Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) which does not focus on WHY you have a problem but HOW you can address your problem. It aims to get people out of a depressed zone into a manageable and self-believing zone.
These are the 5 questions you can ask:
- The miracle question: “Suppose one night, while I am asleep, there is a miracle and the problem that I am facing is solved. However, because I am asleep, I don’t know that the miracle has already happened. When I wake up in the morning, what will be different that will tell me that the miracle has taken place?” In such a way, you can look at the solutions to your problem instead of trying to get rid of it and to mull over the reasons why you have this problem. Ask yourself now, “What part of the miracle is already happening?”
- The scaling questions: “On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is no progress and 10 is that I have solved my problem, how would I rate my progress in solving my problem?” If your score is more than 0, then ask yourself, “How did I get up to this number from 0?” or “How is my score different than 0?” or “What makes my score not lower?” “How will I know when I move just one number higher on this scale?” In such a way, you get to enhance your strengths and positive realisations and the things you would usually ignore. Take tiny steps to get to 10 and if you stay on 0, it is still better than going to -1!
- The coping questions: Ask yourself: “What would my loved ones see me doing now that would tell them that I am being strong and successfully handling this situation?” In such a way you can decide that you can cope, that you do have strengths and that you can solve your own problems. We do worry a lot about how others view us in life and while this is not the be all and end all, it can also help us to rise up against our own issues. I have read in other texts that a lot of our problems and depressions are caused by our own egos. When we can move away from the central I and look around us to see the world with new eyes, we can then see that our ego is controlling us. One of the best ways to move away from the ego is to help others within a community setting! Now ask: “What has worked well for me before?”
- The motivation questions: “Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make things better for me/solve this problem/achieve my goals?” You can also rate your motivation using the the same scaling questions as the number 2 question. Duggal suggests we ask these questions:
- “What do I care most about in life?”
- “What matters most to me?”
- “What are the rules I live by?”
- “If I were to write a mission statement for my life, describing my goals or purpose in life, what would I write?”
These questions will help you to think about your core values. Many of us do not even know what our values are! This holds us back from achieving love and happiness in our lives. Core values are related to self-esteem and how we feel about ourselves in our lives, our families, our friendships and our communities. Are you compassionate towards self and others?
- The exception questions: Ask yourself:
- “When have I not faced this problem/felt angry (or any other emotion)?”
- “What did I do differently at that time?”
- “Why was I not feeling angry (or any other emotion)?”
As humans with problems, we tend to resent and regret and get full of our own hurts. So, we say things like “You are always angry!” or “I am always sad inside!” or “I am so busy and stressed and super tired!” We use extreme adjectives and adverbs to describe ourselves in total terms.
Being in Control
Why? Because we feel hopeless and out of control! I know that when I feel out of control, I get very moody and resentful! I want to have my safe life, my clean house, and my walks all morning. If one of these falls to the side, I get anxious.
I always tell myself: This too will pass. We are energy and the world is energy so the “problems” we face are going to disappear in time, if not immediately. Many of our problems are figments of our imagination. We create them! We even love having them around, like long-lost friends!
Asking these 5 questions will help you to look ahead, to use your own strengths to solve problems, and to know that you do have purpose and value in life. If you need to be in control of your life to avoid depression, then make sure you learn how to solve your own problems. It is never an instant fix, but it is a huge learning curve for the ego.
Duggal notes that you first need to “ensure that the problem is solvable. Problems that are unsolvable require a more emotion-focused than a solution-focused approach. This may involve either changing one’s thinking or reaction to the problem of acceptance.”
To end this blog, I would like to touch on values again. Many times, when I chat to someone who is feeling down and resentful, or down and ashamed or guilty, and I ask them about their values, they look at me blankly. I ask them, what do you value about yourself? What value do you bring to your life, your family, friends, and community?
It often takes a lot of delving and thinking before people can talk about values. Many of us lack self-esteem and then we drank to hide. It is time to believe in YOU and grab the reigns of YOUR life and be in control of your destiny. Thanks to Dr Duggal, for these thought-provoking markers we can contemplate regarding our values:
Read these 10 most viewed values:
- Power:Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. Examples include social power, authority, and wealth.
- Achievement:Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. Examples include successful, capable, and ambitious.
- Hedonism:Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself. Examples include pleasure and enjoying life.
- Stimulation: Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life. Examples include daring, varied life, and exciting life.
- Universalism:Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. Examples include broad-mindedness, social justice, equality, and protecting the environment.
- Self-direction:Independent thought and action – choosing, creating, exploring. Examples include creativity, curiosity, and freedom.
- Benevolence:Preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact. Examples include helpfulness, honesty, and forgiving.
- Tradition:Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide. Examples include humbleness and spirituality.
- Conformity:Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Examples include politeness, obedience, and honoring parents and elders.
- Security:Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. Examples include national security and social order.
Choose one and ask yourself:
- “Why did I choose this value?”
- “To what extent would I say it guides my decisions and the way I lead my life?”
- “Can I think of a recent choice I made that was influenced by this value? How so?”
- “How did I learn or acquire this value?” Who was influential in my adoption of it?”
- “What effects have upholding this value had on my life?”
- “Are these positive or negative for me?”
- “Is this value connected with one of my strengths? If yes, how?”
You may repeat this exercise with other values that are important to you. It may also be helpful to distinguish values from goals. Values are the compass that keep you on track on your journey while goals are the things you strive to achieve or complete on that journey.
Good luck and let me know how you did!