Wanting the problem

Most of the time, everyone says "I want a solution to my problem". Yet, unaware to ourselves, we are acting as if we want our problem to persist. We contradict our espoused intentions with our urgent conduct. We feel compelled to feed the problem by reasons we don't understand and cannot articulate. To others, it appears we cannot handle the solution, are afraid of better opportunities, or sabotage what's in our best interests. When I'm mentoring entrepreneurs, I get into the middle of this dynamic every week. Here's four of the possibilities I look for:
  • Secondary gain: Sometimes the so-called problem is really a "solution in use". We want the problem because it's working for us, proving effective in our situation and making a difference we really appreciate. The solution we're supposed to desire would cause more problems, seem ineffective and undermine what's going our way. We steer clear of a change in order to maintain the good we've already got going.
  • Captivating beliefs: We can be spellbound by others' belief systems, values and priorities. We think contrary alternatives are wrong, bad or stupid. We believe in our suffering, sacrifice and compromises. We argue for our limitations and avoid more freedom from those influential people. We take pride in our loyalty, dedication and persistence in the relationships. We have been taken prisoner by the preconceptions of others individuals.
  • Nightmare circuits: Sometimes we ask for trouble and get it. We act like our own worst enemy by negating the opposite of our one-sided stance. Our shadow haunts us with what we're missing, excluding or denigrating. Our fears come true as we fight or take flight from a potential ally, resource or opportunity. We sow bad seeds and reap what we deserve as it comes back around.
  • Failures of imagination: We often shut down our right-brain creativity and rely excessively on our left-brain rationality. We deal exclusively with "what-is" answers and disregard "what-if" questions. We know too much already and lack wonder, fascination and curiosity. We use our imaginations to entertain paranoid delusions instead of playing our scenarios of satisfaction, growth and contributions to others. Our decisions are foregone conclusions that justify our opinions and deprive us of creative alternatives.
It usually backfires to label the problem like this and tell someone "here is what's wrong with you". Rather, I look to see which of these (and other dynamics) appear to be functioning. I then begin to act as if the alternative is coming about right now. I function as a visionary leader who takes others into their future world. I see how the problem will evolve out of the misfortune by starting out "wanting the problem". If I resist the current dynamic, it persists. If I allow for the misfortune to work itself out as I trust the change process, the new dynamic comes into play on its own.

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