Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

You Are NOT The Problem

All too often our lives become a cardboard dirt sandwich with a side of sawdust and we think:

We ARE the problem.

Life does not work out, we suddenly become sad or fearful or unhappy then we blame ourselves for our situation. We believe that WE are the cause and reason for our problems.

Sometimes that is true. Many times that is NOT accurate!

If I punch someone in anger, I did that. I hurt someone. I got myself arrested. I made choices. Yet, am I “the problem”?

Isn’t my anger behavior the problem? Isn’t my decision making and impulse control also the problem? Maybe. Maybe not. Well then, is the outcome of my anger behavior the problem? Is someone getting hurt and me spending a night in the local jail awaiting arraignment the problem? Perhaps.

It all depends on perspective. And I take the perspective that the “problems” in this narrative are:

what led me being OK with hurting someone and

accepting the consequence of jail as a means of solving the above problem.

So then what led to me being OK with hurting someone and believing that the outcome of being in jail would solve the problem that fueled my actions in the first place: Feeling ridiculed? Pride in protecting another? Believing that I am being intentionally left out?

Now, we are starting to get to the problem that drove a poor and unhealthy decision and an ineffective outcome.

Problems are Problems as Michael White, Creator of Narrative Therapy, used to say.

People are people. Anger is anger. Pain is pain. Jail is unpleasant.

All of these elements create a narrative for counseling. Focusing on the problem (being ridiculed and left out) helps the person, you and me, change the unhealthy thinking and decision-making (through the use of our values and skills) which in turn drives more effective outcomes. If I don’t uncover, address and change the actual “problem” I will continue to hurt myself, others and make poor choices, and be forced to live with ineffective outcomes. If I focus on shaming myself for hitting someone, I don’t impact the problem. I just lay another level of self-concept bullshit over the real problem and my life continues to be a cardboard dirt sandwich with a side of sawdust.


Counselor, Satirist, Podcaster, Author, Professor, Speaker, Father and Husband

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