Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand (source of image)
Time and time again, the Ds of life assail and pummel us to the ground.
Defeat. Discontent. Debt. Distress. Disease. Disappointment.
The list goes on…
Unfortunately, when bad things happen, they often come in a series. Ever noticed how a stubbed toe in the morning leads to bad hair, burnt breakfasts, missed buses, and angry bosses?
Before you know it, you’re cursing and swearing, proclaiming that it is going to be a sh***y day while wearing a deadly look on your face. You unleash your anger on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, write nasty email responses, and respond to IMs with curt and angry sentences.
Seeing the dark cloud loom over your head, people start avoiding you. This makes you feel even crappier and further fuels your journey down the negative spiral.
How can we arrest those bad beginnings and prevent them from snowballing? Should we just stick our heads in the sand and pretend that they never happened?
First, learn to float above your current situation. Distance yourself from the emotions that well inside you, and take on an objective view of what’s happening.
Breathe deeply and pause. Practice mindful meditation, and just observe and notice the events which are happening around you without passing judgement on them.
The important thing here is not to do anything impulsive. Control the reptilian brain and keep it in check so that you do not do anything rash.
Next, explore the issue at length. Ask yourself why the incident happened.
What could be the root cause? What were the potential triggers that occurred? Dissect the issue and break it down into its individual components.
It is critical here to try to be as objective as possible. If you can’t do it yourself, see if you can work with a colleague, friend or family member whom you love and trust.
It is important here to hold back emotions if you can. This will allow you to understand the root of the issues faced in a rational and logical manner.
Once you have examined the problem with some rigour, you should find pragmatic ways to resolve this.
What do you need to do to prevent this from happening again? Does it require you to leave an organisation or a harmful relationship?
Will it require a physical change in your surroundings? Do you need to speak to the other party involved?
When deriving the solution, opt for sustainable long-term approaches. If it helps, include low hanging fruits and break it down into smaller milestones that you can achieve along the way. By dismantling your challenge into smaller bite-sized pieces, you can tackle each step separately.
Once you have arrived at the solution, it is time to put it into practice.
Schedule the proposed actions steps in your diary and stick to them.
From my experience, I find that whatever is not written is often not done. Operationalise the new habit by changing your environments, behaviours or habits.
If necessary, find a partner to help you instil greater discipline and accountability. Often, your spirit may be willing but your flesh is weak.
Finally, ensure that you change your circumstances and situation so that the same negative thing doesn’t happen again. This may involve visualising possible future scenarios in your mind, and taking definite steps to prevent their re-occurrence.
Now this may take a while as certain habits are hard to break. However, do not give up.
Strengthen your willpower and grit your teeth to power through the pain which change necessitates. Focus on the long-term positive outcomes and work towards them.
Note that temptations to fall back on your old ways may come your way. Should this happen, you need to nip those festering thoughts and feelings so that they do not cripple your resolve. Once again, if need be, get your friends or family members involved.
A Formula for Life’s Problems
Now that you’ve learned a simple five step method to tackling and approaching any problem you may face in life, you need to put it into practice.
Remember to levitate away from the heat of the moment (and mindfully meditate), evaluate the situation objectively, illuminate with possible concrete solutions, operate on the problem with tangible actions, and anticipate the future scenarios where they may occur again.