Why can’t we resolve our own issues by thinking?

In a way, this is a stupid question. All of face issues and there is no denying that we try to resolve them by ‘deep’ thinking. But the question is, does it really help us solve the issue.

(for clarity: what I mean by issues here are situations where we need to take a decision but not sure what. Typical examples are a relationship problem, making a job change, handling a conflict. I don’t really mean those issues that we solve say as part of our job)

I had lot of issues that I faced in life, and many were unexpected and threw me out of balance. Many times, they gripped my mind, in a way I was not able to shake them off. I played them in my mind repeatedly with slight variations. And I thought I was trying to think deep on the issue. This goes on for sometime and I am all the more confused and down. At some point, I feel I cannot handle this and I discuss the issue with my close friends or my spouse. Believe me, people are just waiting for you to ask their opinions. Most of the time friends and spouses give you advices that you want, not what you need.

And when I look back, most of those issues were resolved either by natures best remedy – time, or just by the way the sequence of events turned out to be.

Either way, what about the time, energy and effort spend on brooding over them?

Later in life, I realized that there has to be a better way to handle these issues. After lot of trial and error, I have found a working two step process for resolving such issues.

STEP 1 – Understanding the issue

            I found, typically when you approach an issue, you just don’t see the issue alone, it comes as a whole package. The first challenge is to segregate them. I try to think of these four elements:

  1. Relevance of the issue – is it something that needs to be resolved in the first place? Is it just a question of ego or solving it will impact my life in anyway? How significant is it in the whole scheme of things?
  2. My assumptions – What are my assumptions? This is the toughest part, especially when it comes to relationship problems. I would have assumed that someone doesn’t like me or he has a vested interest in doing this..
  3. My emotional involvement – This is also very very important. The emotional aspect makes it difficult to solve issues, especially related to relations. More emotional we are about the issue, less logical we are.
  4. The past and the future – How much am I influenced by what has happened in the past and my plan for the future. This is also important because typically we don’t see issues in isolation. We view them as continuation of something that happened in the past. This also means that we might be prejudiced. On the other side, the issue might be arising out of a fixed concept that we have about something in the future.

I put these things on paper separately and try to be as honest and logical as possible. Most of the time this step itself will help you segregate the real problem from all the mess around it and you have the clarity to solve it easily. But sometimes, this is difficult, especially when I am emotionally involved in the issue. The I go to step 2.

STEP 2: Taking alternative views

            I find someone whom I respect and who I am sure has a bigger view of life and experience. I ask  for a short appointment. Then I present him the problem in an ‘as a matter of fact’ tone and seek his views. This really works because the person is not emotionally involved in the issue and can really give me a very logical picture of the whole thing. This helps me overcome the emotional barrier that stopped me from seeing the issue. (Sometime it may be needed to repeat step 1 after this once again)

Believe me, you can solve things much more easily and effectively.

What I didn’t realize though at that time was that there is a feedback process working. When you do this a couple of times, your thinking patterns get modified and this becomes your natural way you think. Going forward, I would also expect the issues to come down significanly, because they were created by those same thinking patterns.

It’s a slow process, but works….

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3 thoughts on “Why can’t we resolve our own issues by thinking?

  1. Murali

    “We delude ourselves by believing that if we did not continually think about things we would not know how to act. In fact the contrary is true, the more tranquil the mind, the more spontaneous and appropriate our actions.”
    –Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Sure Ways to Self Realization

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Playing with Perceptions « Head to Heart

  3. Pingback: Helplessness, Fear, Resistance and Stress « Head to Heart

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