Containing the problem differently

In your context, there may be a real problem. Things might not be going the way you want them to. Something might be getting worse instead of better. You may know you have some kind of problem, but not know what it is or which problem you've actually got. This is a situation that calls for reflective practicing.

Besides whatever is going wrong, you're also having an experience of this problem. You may be overwhelmed by the situation and feeling helpless about facing it. You may be frustrated by the problem and dealing with lots of anxiety and apprehensions. This is the energy you will use to reflect upon the problem deeply.

You might have gotten a grip on the problem and put a lid on your feelings. Perhaps you've already made up your mind about this problem. You know what it is, what to do about it and maybe even what caused it in the first place. "That settles that". You've eliminated the possibility of reflective practicing with a "hardening of your categories".

In the event of achieving certainty, you have contained the problem and your experience of it. It no longer overwhelms you and fills you with dread and worries. However, it's very likely the container is maintaining the problem or even making the problem worse.

Problems feed off of how they are seen, understood and framed. A problem contained as "a problem" is likely to remain a problem. The story told about the problem comes true. Problems usually go away when they are seen differently, understood in a different light or framed as a solution in the making.

When we've already contained the problem in a way that makes the problem worse, the solution comes about by flip flopping the problem and the container. The problem is really a solution in disguise and the container is the actual problem. That's quite a turnaround from already knowing what the problem is, what to do about it and why it happened in the first place. We release what we thought was the problem from our "prison lock down" mentality.

When the container for the problem is the real problem, we can change containers easily. We are free to contain what we thought was the problem -- as something really good for us right now. We can appreciate the supposed problem as a valuable lesson we needed to learn, a welcome change to make finally, or a wake-up call to immediately see something separate as connected to us. We can regard what we worried about as an adventure to explore or a process to go through in stages.

When it turns out that the problem goes away by containing the problem differently, it looks like the solution was in the problem. We had the solution all along and didn't realize it. We only needed to see it, not do anything about it that we had in our stressed-out mind.

Make no mistake about it. Containing the problem is NOT fixing the problem or changing anything on the outside first. Containing the problem is changing the definition of the problem, the perception of the situation or the diagnosis of the symptoms. That change calls for reflective practicing to make different sense of what is already known.

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