All too often our lives become a cardboard dirt sandwich with a side of sawdust and we think:
A Friend, Partner, Co-Worker, or Family Member ARE the problem.
Life does not work out, we suddenly become sad or fearful or unhappy then we blame someone in our orbit for our horrid situation. We believe that THEY are the cause and reason for our problems and state.
Sometimes that is true. Many times that is NOT accurate!
If someone I love betrays my trust and I am devasted by their choices and behaviors I may find myself in a world of hurt. Yet, are they “the problem”?
Isn’t their behavior the problem? Isn’t their decision making the problem also? Maybe. Maybe not. Well then, is the outcome of their betrayal behavior the problem? Is me getting hurt the problem? Perhaps.
It all depends on perspective. And I take the perspective that the “problems” in this narrative are:
my/your interpretation of the other perron’s decision-making process, choices, and behaviors and
how the outcome of their choices and behaviors impact you and your relationship with them.
So then what do I or you think about the betrayal? Is it disloyal? Is it cheating? Is it hurtful and disrespectful? And if so, how does their cheating and harmful and disrespecting behavior impact you? Reflect upon you? Say about your relationship and its future?
Now, we are starting to get to the problem. You are suddenly thrust into a relationship with some whom you can not trust and who has hurt you. It’s a trust problem. It’s a safety problem.
You may believe that you are to blame, you are the reason the person was dishonest, cheated, or lied. And that faulty thinking creates unpleasant and unwanted emotional outcomes. They are NOT the problem. And focusing on them will only make the problem worse and drive greater tension in your relationship and life.
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 in a relationship with someone you can trust and feel safe with) helps you and me change our 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 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.