Thursday, March 21, 2019

What are Problems?

In Problems and boundaries from  Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

‘If there is no solution, then it’s not a problem…Once we can walk away from unsolvable situations that pretend to be problems, we can focus our energy on the real problems in front of us.”

When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me that I was overreacting. She would often tell me that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. In other words, she was saying that I really didn’t have a problem and I was wasting energy dealing with it. Looking back now as an adult, I can see that most of the time she was right. But at the time, the problems seemed real. They even felt real. They were not figments of my imagination.

I wish instead of being made to feel like I was a drama queen, someone would have taught me how to deal with these problems.

Whether they were small or big or imagined or real, to me, these were real problems.

As a teacher, when my students come to me with their problems, I try not to ignore them or make them feel inconsequential. Instead, I want to help them look at this problem from an objective point of view. I want them to step out of themselves and look at the problem less emotionally

First, I would ask them to describe what the problem is. If they can’t put it in words, I need to help them put a name to the problem. Once it is recognized in words, it takes some of the power away from it. Once we share it with someone else, it isn’t as scary.

Next, I ask them to talk about the consequences. What is the worst thing that could happen? I would help them make a list of the consequences. Then we would look at them and rank them according to the most probable to the least probable.

After that, I ask if the consequences happen, how will it affect the person in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Will it affect the future? Will it hurt them personally or professionally?

I think we need to stop minimizing problems that people have and instead, face them. When confronted, they might become smaller. When we let them stay imaginary, we give them too much power.

How do you deal with your student’s problems? Please share?

Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

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