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What IS A Problem Really?

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Here's a very important question for you: how do you define the word problem? Take the time to think of a definition of the word, not just a synonym like difficulty or dilemma. Don't give me an example, either, like "A problem is when I don't have money." 


That's certainly a good example, but it doesn't get to the heart of the word's definition. Instead, I'd like you to take a few seconds and really think. How do you define the word? When you've thought of the definition, write it down and say it out loud to yourself.


Why am I asking you this question? Because you already have assumptions about what a problem is, and those assumptions are a sort of full cup in your mind. By asking you to write down the definition and say it to yourself, I'm asking you to empty that cup so that you're ready and able to refill it with a different point of view.


Now let me give you my definition of the word problem. 


A problem is anything that act as barrier to your progress. Being a barrier it has a counter intention to yours. 


It is also a difficult situation, matter, or person, and by difficult, I mean anything that requires great effort or struggle to overcome. 


That means a problem is when you want to go forward, and someone or something is pushing you backward. You are dealing with a force that is countering your movement, keeping you from going where you want to go. If you look at the derivation of the word, you'll find that it comes from 14th century Old French, and it literally means “thing drawn in front.” In other words, to put something in front of you, to stop you from going forward, is the very definition of a problem.


Now think about two people holding out their hands in front of themselves and pushing against one another. I push in one direction, and the other person pushes against me in the opposite direction.


That’s a problem.


I want to have money, and people say, “No, you will not have money. We don’t want to give it to you.” 


I want to be happy, and I feel unhappy. 


I’m looking for the perfect partner, and I find only nightmares. 


Whatever the situation, it's that I want to go in one direction and something or someone (the barrier) pushes back in the opposite. That’s a problem. 


A barrier by the way is something that takes you from where you want to be. 


We can also look at the problem as some kind of a puzzle or question to be solved. 


Your intention is to solve the problem, and the counter-intention, the barrier, the force pushing back against you, is the fact that you don't yet know the answer. So a problem is always push and counter-push, even when the problem is inside you. 


Now, if there are two people that are pushing against one another, do you realize that if one of them stops pushing, the other one will have no way to exert his force in the opposite direction? In fact, it's likely that he'll fall. The problem will be solved the moment that one of the people stops pushing. Even if one of the sides gets overwhelmed the end results is – that side stops pushing. 


Think about what that means. It means that every problem you have is a problem that you are actively creating by pushing, and until you realize that, you won't be able to solve any of your problems!!!


If your problem is caused by another person pushing back against you, you can't make that other person stop pushing and so cannot solve your problems. You can easily change yourself by changing your mind – it is more complex to change the other side’s mind. You can change your actions. You can change your point of view. You can change your feelings. You can stop pushing.


Why do I define the word problem


If you don’t know what problem truly means, you will never be able to solve a problem when you encounter one. 


It is like trying to handle CHAKATCHUKA – if you don’t know what exactly CHAKATCHUKA means, how can you resolve it?


You need to understand that every problem you have has everything to do with you – you can totally control it as you create it! 


And if it has everything to do with you, then it’s quite simple to solve because you can do something about YOU. 


Learning how to stop pushing at will, however, is a topic for another day.


Written by

Meir Ezra


Click here to listen to Meir's audio recording about solving problems.

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