Has a close friend, family member or colleague ever come to you with a problem they have in their life? Have they ever come to seek your advice, because they can’t find a solution? Then, when you hear the problem, you instantly have a solution for them?
Afterward, you sit and think, ‘I wish I had that person’s problems because it’s much easier than my own.’ Somehow we have the ability to solve other people’s problems and often get stuck when we need to solve our own and usually we attribute this to the fact that our problems are unique, different, more complex, or difficult. When we get stuck and we ask someone for their help, they can usually come up with a solution as well, in some cases, we then see the viable solution, other times we feel that the other person does not understand our true situation.
Yet, have we ever thought of the two situations together? Have you thought that we can solve other people’s problems, but struggle with our own and the other way around? When you put the two situations side by side, it becomes clear that people, in general, have a block on their own life, which seems to be absent when looking at the lives of other people.
This is mainly due to perspective, to visualize this, imagine playing a first-person shooter computer game. If you are playing a game from the comfort of your home, knowing that you can’t get hurt or killed in reality, you will make informed and practical decisions, take calculated risks, and the more you play, the better you get, as you start to think logically and you make rational choices. This is because you are focused on the situation at hand and you are not influenced by your instincts.
Now, you go out of your comfort zone and you join a paintball match. You have the ‘combat’ knowledge by now, but you have the element of real danger in terms of pain. Although not life-threatening, you are aware of your own physical limitations and the idea of physical pain will most definitely change the way you behave in the field. You will take longer to react, take less risk and make irrational decisions, because of fear, your behavior changes.
If you were to be put in a real-life combat situation (a situation we all hope to avoid at all costs), you will most likely behave even more irrational, make instinct-based choices, have poor judgment and in many cases, you may end up freezing or spinning. The fear of death or extreme injury will drive many of your actions.
So, in looking at these three situations, you go from an expert to helpless, just by introducing reality, which in turn brings in fear, this brings in a block in your rational and logical thinking and you revert back to instinctive behaviors. The same is true when we face challenges or problems in life.
When we face a problem of our own, we typically stare ourselves blind at the potential consequences, this creates a block in our rational and logical thinking processes, as these consequences bring out fear. Fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of being cast out, fear of being mocked, fear of loss of reputation, and many more, make us focus on the consequences and prevents our logical thought to identify the root cause of our problem, thus causing a failure to identify possible solutions. We find ourselves in combat situations where the threat is real.
When we assist other people, we find ourselves in the video game situation, therefore we can make an informed analysis of the problem, identify the root cause and come up with a viable solution because we aren’t driven by fear and instinct.
So, how can we use this to our advantage? By looking at the conditions above, it is clear that you need to change your perspective in order to maintain a clear view of the situation. A method that can be helpful is role-playing. By taking yourself out of the real-life combat situation and placing yourself in the video game situation.
In order to do this, you can visualize the problem as someone else’s problem. Think of a friend or family member that comes to you for help and they present the problem to you, now try and solve the problem from the perspective that it is a problem of someone else, instead of your own. Ask yourself what advice you would give another person if they had come to you with the same problem.
This will obviously take some practice, but as you perfect this method and as you become accustomed and focused on mental role play, you can soon find that problems become easier to solve.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Jan van Antwerp