Podcast Episode 34 – What’s the Problem?

Jul 1, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger, and this is the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode 34 What’s the Problem?  

DIANA: Hey. Hey. November is here, and it’s election day, and I am not stressed about it at all. Are you? I think that topic actually fits pretty well with what I’m focusing on today on the podcast, because I kind of want to ask you, like, what’s the problem? Maybe Biden wins. Maybe Trump wins. Either way, what’s the problem? I could hear some of you gasping at that question. Like, of course it’s a problem if my candidate doesn’t win. What do you mean? Diana and M, I hear you, but I still want to ask you, is it really a problem? What makes it a problem? You don’t like it. You don’t have the same ideals. The word problem strongly implies that there’s something for you to solve. So if your guide doesn’t win, what do you need to solve? Anything. And if there’s nothing for you to solve, maybe it’s not a problem. 


But today, I’m just asking you to think about it. We don’t have to just arbitrarily decide that things are problems just because we don’t like it. It’s really just another way that we end up fighting with reality, and it’s always exhausting. Now, before we get into questioning if something is actually a problem or not, let’s remind ourselves of a few things that we already know. A while back, I had an episode on control. It’s the first lesson that I teach in my coaching program, too. I always start with control because we bang our heads up against a wall when we try to control things that we can’t. So let’s just remember what’s in our control and what’s not. What is in our control is our own thoughts, our own emotions, our own behaviors, the things we say, do, feel, and think. That is what is in our control. What’s not in our control. 


Other people’s thoughts, other people’s emotions, other people’s behaviors, the things that other people say and do and feel and think that is not in our control. When we’re looking at problems, we need to start by seeing if we’re trying to insert ourselves into other people’s business, into their arena. If you’re trying to solve a problem by changing the way someone else is thinking or feeling or you want to change what they’re doing, you’re trying to manipulate them, and you’re not solving anything. One of the ways you can save yourself a lot of angst is by sticking to what is your business and staying out of other people’s business. So the best place to start, if you want to decide is something a problem for you is by asking, whose problem is it anyway? Is it your business? Is it someone else’s business? Is it God’s business? I mean, we stick our nose into God’s business quite a bit too, don’t we? 


We just let our brains go nuts sometimes trying to solve problems that are none of our business. Now, if you want to stop trying to solve everybody else’s problems, you’re going to need to understand why you’re so compelled to do it in the first place. Okay? So here’s why. We try to solve other people’s problems so we can feel better. You got that? We try to solve problems that don’t belong to us. Maybe it belongs to your spouse or your boss or your child or your parents. It’s their business, not yours. But you’re wanting to try to solve it so you can feel better. This is something worth noticing, so you can check in with what you’re feeling when you think there’s something to solve. We might feel concerned or worried or afraid. And for those of you who react and like to jump in and try to constantly solve on the fly, you’re going to need to stop for a moment, take a breath, and check in with yourself. You’re thinking, they have a problem and I want to solve it. But you need to ask yourself why. 


Lots of times we’re going to think it’s because we want the other person to be spared pain or discomfort. And that seems so amazing, right? Let me help solve the problem so they won’t have pain and they won’t be uncomfortable. It’s usually the reason. But why are you making it a problem for them to have some pain or discomfort? People experience pain and discomfort all the time. That’s normal. That’s the human existence. Why are you trying to intervene? And I’m saying that you’re trying to intervene so that you don’t have to worry about them, so you don’t have to see them struggle because it’s uncomfortable for you and you don’t like that, so you want to intervene. We don’t want to worry about our kids. It’s uncomfortable. So if we jump in and solve for them, then they’ll feel better and we don’t have to worry. Or when your husband’s upset about something that didn’t get done, then we swoop in to solve it because we don’t want to feel the discomfort of a husband being upset. But why is that bothering us? Why is him being upset a problem? It’s just normal. Why are we making management of his emotions our problem to solve? 


I used to do this all the time with my husband. And you know what I just decided today? I really think he should be my next guest on the podcast because I talk about him an awful lot, and he should be able to show up and speak for himself. So, Dan, you’re going to have to be my next guest. Get ready. He’s probably going, oh, crap. Okay. I used to try to solve Dan’s stuff all the time. Sometimes I still do a little bit. Because remember, we’re human, okay? Because I want to feel better. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. But listen, husbands don’t usually like that. For me, when I’d swoop in and try to lessen his discomfort and solve it, I just seemed arrogant and I seemed self righteous. I’d try to fix it like I know the answer or I’d take over or I’d dictate or micromanage or try to control the kids or anything. I was making his emotions my problem so that I could feel better, but it didn’t work. Remember what I said at the beginning? What’s in our control and what’s not in our control? Other people’s emotions aren’t your problem. You m don’t control them. They’re not your problem. It’s not your business. When we try to make it our problem, we make it worse. Okay, so a lot of you are asking, Wait a second. What? Am I not supposed to care about the other person and their emotions? No, you should totally care. I love caring about what people are feeling. 


There’s a healthy way to do that. And the fact that you feel uncomfortable when someone else is struggling is you caring. You’re feeling uncomfortable because you’re feeling some sadness or you’re feeling some compassion or empathy. If m you didn’t care, you wouldn’t feel anything, wouldn’t bother you. You’d feel fine. So I’m saying it’s fine, good to feel uncomfortable that’s you caring. Let that happen. Feel awkward when your kid is struggling. Feel disappointed for a moment that something didn’t go as you hoped. Have compassion, have love, have empathy for the other person. You can do all of that and still let them be responsible for managing their own stuff and specifically their own emotions. This is you taking responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions without having to change their situation or anything else or solve for them. So at the core of not making other people’s stuff, your problem is the willingness to feel sad, the willingness to feel empathy, which doesn’t always feel great, right? 


The willingness to feel compassion or other healthy emotions that come when you watch someone struggle. That doesn’t mean you have to solve. By the way, did you know there’s lots of advantages to letting other people struggle, not swooping in and trying to save them and spare them and fix for them. There’s tons of reasons why that’s better might be to let them grow and mature and develop their own character. When you step in and try to fix things for them, it denies them that opportunity. Trying to prevent problems and solve problems that aren’t your business, it stresses you out and it’s making you show up as manipulative and controlling. We think if we solve and prevent other people’s problems, we’re going to feel more peace, but we don’t. We feel more stress. 


The real way to feel more peace is an understanding that it’s okay to let people struggle. It doesn’t mean anything’s gone wrong. You can still love them. You can still guide them. You can still offer to help them and let them be in charge of their own business. And it’s probably easier with adults to grasp this and start making some progress. But I’m also talking about it with our kids. Okay, moms, parents, I’m telling you, you don’t need to solve all the problems. That’s not your job. Let’s consider that not everything we think is a problem is a problem anyway. Let’s consider ways to think about it that keep you from jumping into anxiety and overwhelm. Let’s consider that not all problems have to be solved. Not all problems are your problems. There’s this thing called confirmation bias. All it is sounds fancy, but it’s easy. When we think a thought and we think that thought is true, our brains are going to go to work to find all the evidence it can to support that it’s true. And then it discards ignores the rest. 


So if your brain decides something’s, a problem, it’s going to go to work and find all sorts of reasons and evidence to prove that for sure it’s a problem. That’s what our brains do. They’re working for you. And when you’re sure it’s a problem and it finds all the evidence to support it’s a problem, you end up feeling all the things like worry, anxiety, concern overwhelm, stress, nervous, agitated, all of that stuff. If you like feeling that stuff, just keep telling yourself it’s definitely a problem. You can do that. I won’t even judge you for doing that. It’s the normal human response. It’s just what we do. It’s fine. But what I want to propose to you is that you don’t have to do it. Most of you are listening to this podcast because you want to feel better. You want to get unstuck. You know that you can have more joy. You can have more peace. This, M, is how managing what you allow your brain to, what you set it loose on. And I’m telling you, if you identify something as a problem and you set your brain loose on it, it’s going to find all the evidence as a problem and you’re going to feel terrible. But the cool thing is, instead of doing that, you can put your brain to work to look for all the reasons. It’s not a problem. You can have your mind set loose on the task of finding evidence to prove everything’s fine. Not a problem. You can try. Thoughts like this actually isn’t a problem. Now that one’s kind of a jump. If you’re used to thinking things are a problem, it’s going to be hard for you to go to. It’s not a problem. 


So you can try something like it’s possible that this is not a problem, or maybe this isn’t my problem and start looking on purpose for ways to support that, that it might not be a problem. We’re giving our brain an opportunity to consider something different. We’re creating some balance in our thoughts, and we’re putting our critical thinking caps on. Like, okay, maybe it’s not a problem. You can ask some questions, too, instead of just letting your brain stay stuck and spinning that it’s a problem. Ask questions like, does this require solving? Who does it require solving by? Is it me or someone else? What if I didn’t do anything about it? Then what? How would it be good for me to not view this as a problem? When we balance our thinking, when we consider our role, when we don’t freak out and not react and step in and try to solve everything for everybody? Maybe you’ll see there really is no problem, or it’s not your problem, and then you can skip all the most uncomfortable emotions, the stress and the worry and all those, and maybe it still creeps in here and there that we’re trying to solve. And we think everything’s a problem that happens, okay? 


We’re human. Sometimes we’re not going to have a handle on it. And other times, we’ll take a moment and we’ll get some leverage and we’ll choose our thoughts because our thoughts are optional and we have the ability to redirect them, to get more calm, to feel more calm, to feel more sane, and to have more considerations and more thoughts and more insight. Our thoughts are up to us. Nobody can make us think anything different. Okay? We get to decide. So why not choose thoughts that don’t create anxiety and overwhelm and all the other ones I listed before? Wouldn’t that be a relief? Wouldn’t it? Okay, I have an example. I always have an example, right? Uh, this spring, right at the same time as the great shutdown of 2020 and my house. I’m like, Gosh, it’s so cold in here. I’ve got my muckluck slippers on. I’m drinking hot coffee. I have my oversized wool cardigan on. Keeps me warm all winter. And, I’m still like, Dang, it’s cold. I check thermostat 62. Great. I go down to the basement, look at the furnace, and that digital thingy on it is flashing a red error code. So I hit the reset nothing. Reset nothing. Okay, so that’s what’s worked in the past. So definitely it’s out. I, uh, looked up the code. Nothing we could do to fix it on our own. Is this a problem? It’s 40 degrees out and my furnace isn’t working. Is this a problem? A problem means there’s something to solve. 


Well, I instinctively know I need to call the repair person, let him in my home and pay him. So is there a problem I know what to do with very little. Thought I call the HVAC company. Schedule visit, plug in the electric wall heater. When the repair person comes, I give them my credit card. I choose to think this is not a problem at all. It’s just something that happened. Would I have preferred that it did not happen? Sure. But that doesn’t make it a problem. Just because we prefer something to be different does not make it a problem. Now, back to the election. Yes, I dare to go back to the election. Listen, I’m not going to go deep into it, but let’s not make it a problem. My best friend and I have different political views. We always have. I’m sure we’re going to vote for different presidential candidates. As far as I know, we’ve voted differently on almost every election. But it’s never been a problem in our lives. And I’m not talking about for our relationship, though that’s true, because we just love each other no matter what. Doesn’t matter what the other person thinks. 


But I’m talking about how each election one of us has had our preferred candidate not win, but neither of us suffered. It wasn’t really a problem for either of us. We didn’t suddenly have something we need to solve because of the outcome of the election. Just think about that. If the candidate you aren’t voting for becomes president, how is that a problem for you? Exactly? What’s going to happen in your life that you’re going to have to solve for anything? I mean, maybe when that person is president for a while in office, they create an executive order or sanctions or change a law or something that gives you something to solve for. But that’s not happened yet. The election outcome in and of itself is not really a problem for you. Did you realize that? It’s just something to think about. I know there’s lots of people who are going to get stressed and act out because they think it’s a problem when in that moment there is actually nothing that is their business that needs to be solved. Just throwing that out there for you to ponder. But the election is not why I decided to record this podcast. 


The reason I’m doing this episode is because one of the most common and most strategic questions that I ask my clients is, what’s the problem? Especially on my free coaching calls. It just helps get to the heart of the matter a lot more quickly. By the way, everybody gets a free coaching call, so if you haven’t signed up, I don’t know what you’re waiting for because I can totally help you. So when someone like you shows up for a free coaching call, which you can do at Rympodcast Um.com, you just click the Mind Shift Coaching Call link and get on my calendar. It’s easy. Anyway, we get on the zoom call, and it always starts with the person telling me a story about something going on in their life, and I listen, and then I ask the question, So what’s the problem? And it might go something like this. They say, well, I’m overwhelmed. My kids are home doing online school. 


My husband doesn’t really help with it, and I didn’t realize I’d have to do so much to help them. I don’t have time to get the laundry done. I’m tired, my kids are behind. I’m not seeing my friends very much. I listen and finally ask, So what’s the problem? And I think this is a really important question that you can start asking yourself too, in this situation. Is the problem that the kids are home? Is the problem that you don’t see your friends? Is the problem that you’re tired, that they’re behind in their schoolwork? You aren’t getting supported. Like, what is the actual problem? Take a breath, take a moment, check in with what you’re feeling and find what thought is causing you to feel that way. You get to investigate. And all the while, you can be compassionate with yourself and be honest with yourself. When you take a look what’s going on in your brain, what are you thinking that’s causing it? Why are these feelings there? Why are you feeling desperate to solve? 


When you get that awareness, you can finally decide if there actually is a problem to solve. You can consider that it’s possible that it’s not a problem. Maybe m it’s not a problem. You can ask, does it require solving? And if so, who does it require solving by? Is it your business, someone else’s business, or God’s business? I was on a weekly FaceTime call with my sister today, and I told her about this episode, and she so wisely said, there really never is a problem when we turn it over and surrender it to God. I was like, OOH, I got to write that down. Think about that. There really never is a problem when we turn it over and surrender it to God. All right, by the way, you want to know how many times I said problem in today’s episode? According to my quick search, looks like I said it about 75 times. Now it’s your turn. I want you to notice how often you are thinking something is a problem. Maybe a lot more than you need to. Maybe sometimes you think it’s a problem. You could be wrong about that. All right, y’all, um, that’s it for today. I will catch you next week. Take care of you. 


As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work so you can enjoy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

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