One of the worst ways we can spend our time and energy is by complaining about our problems.

Often we don’t even know we are complaining until it is pointed out to us by someone who no longer wants to bear witness to it.

My partner busted me the other day for complaining about a problem I was having with a colleague. Misery loves company but he wasn’t willing to play with me. I realized that by complaining I was denying both of us the opportunity to feel good. I was also denying myself the opportunity to see past my problem.

Is a current problem filling you with negative thoughts and feelings and consuming time and energy?

Empower yourself to take charge of your problem by learning to see it as an opportunity to make positive change in your life.

The Problem

Emily felt stuck in a job that stressed her to the max and made her completely miserable for years (‘the problem’ that she complained about). One day at work she was struck on the head by a sign that broke free from its support. She got 3 new problems: a concussion, 7 stitches and an order for bed rest to recuperate.

Problems are problems because we think of them that way.

Life happens, stuff happens all the time to every one of us… no exceptions and if we don’t like it we label it a problem.

The problem then becomes an obstacle standing between you, your happiness and getting what you want. You don’t like or want the problem and try as you might, you cannot force things back to the way they were before the problem. So what to do?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase it’s not the situation, its how you deal with the situation…

Emily complained about this her latest string of problems. A friend pointed out to her that the universe had literally knocked her on the head with a sign and she would be wise to use her doctor’s prescription for bed rest to her advantage. Emily decided to seize an opportunity to recuperate at a friends cabin in the woods. The time away gave her opportunity to think about what is important to her, what she really wanted and to finally read the book eat, pray, love that was on her ‘to read’ list. This is exactly what she needed. She came home inspired to leave her soul-sucking job and follow a long dormant dream of becoming a teacher. Today she is happy and fulfilled shaping healthy humans as a kindergarten teacher.

Now let’s start looking for the opportunity hiding in the middle of that problem…

For this exercise grab a good supportive friend, pen and paper and have a brainstorming session.

You are looking for the opportunities the problem is presenting you. Examples such as opportunity to eliminate old behaviours, learn new skills, know who you are and what you want etc.

One rule: brainstorming means you put all ideas down on paper without judging it as right, wrong, stupid or unrealistic.

You can pare down your list as needed later when you are ready to make some decisions.

A few examples of how to see a problem as opportunity are listed below:

Dead-end or stalled career

  • Seek help to overcome fear of taking risks needed to have the position or career I want
  • Skills upgrade
  • Career counselling to discover my passions, purpose, interests and abilities

Debt

  • Reprioritize, reprioritize, reprioritize what I consider the truly important things in life
  • Learn to live within my means without feeling that I’m sacrificing
  • Develop new hobbies, sell material goods I don’t use or need on craigs list

Divorce

  • Discover who I am now at this point in my life
  • Get reacquainted with long dormant dreams
  • Learn to be ok being alone
  • Get help to successfully navigate the grieving process and overcome fears

Illness

  • Get priorities straight
  • Learn to live a balanced lifestyle
  • Let go of toxic people and situations
  • Do more of what I want and less of what I don’t want

The difference between a problem and an opportunity is what you do with it.

No doubt some problems you are facing will knock you off track and into a dark night of the soul. You may feel as though you are spiraling emotionally and spiritually out of control.

If you are not ready to see the opportunity in your current problem, don’t push yourself. You do need time to work through your thoughts, feelings and emotions about the problem.

However, If you find yourself suffering and stuck in ‘I don’t like this, I didn’t ask for this, I don’t want this’ (resistance and stuck in the past) mode it will be more difficult to see any opportunity.

Make sure you have a support system set up to help you as needed and if you don’t then please seek professional guidance to help you reach for the opportunity on the other side.

I never said it would be easy but at the end of the day the choice really is yours to make and that’s empowering.

Please share this article with a friend, colleague, family member or anyone with a problem that you think may benefit from the information and exercise.

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