Sometimes, the way to a solution is just a little adjustment.
“The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.”―
I went into the garage the other day. Always the potential for a mysterious adventure. I have cleaned it out considerably – so give me a little credit. I was retrieving the high chair for my granddaughter’s visit. Looking down on the handicapped shower chair (who needs one of these?) I noticed our little black portable step. My brain started turning over and over again.
If you’re human, you’ve surely had an encounter or two with someone, or two, who was just plain difficult. Frustration with people often escalates to the point where we begin to think and act in absolutes. We assign others to rigid categories and limit our thinking to black and white choices:
“You always say things like that”
“He never listens to my point of view”
“She’s in another one of her crazy moods again”
I’m a social scientist – so I try to look for external causes first before diagnosing anyone hard-headed and woefully wrong. Our people filled environments are usually the culprits behind the out of order thinking and acting that cause friction and harm.
When my wife was waging war with cancer, it eventually moved into her brain. She had a tumor sitting on the muscle movement section, right up front. This caused her to lose strength in her legs. Eventually it became impossible for her climb into her tall bed or up into the passenger seat in our SUV. She needed an immediate solution so that she could live each day as normal as possible.
Somehow, we found a little fold-up portable step that could be taken and set down by the passenger door. It was even easier to unfold it next to the bed so she could get in and out with ease. Such a small little tool, very easy to use, folded up and tucked out of the way – and it dramatically improved living with cancer.
When I saw that step stool in the garage the other day, I thought about someone at work who was bent out of shape and putting others into easy to manage categories. It wasn’t accurate, fair or helpful. I couldn’t help myself. I asked a clarifying question or two, hoping to help my friend see a wider angle or what the truth looked like from another perspective. Each of us should practice more at making sure we are seeing things clearly and not letting our wacked out emotions steer the ship.
Just stopping for a minute and asking some questions can refine my focus.
Listening to another perspective helps to see a wider panorama.
Noticing my language toward others – is it full of absolutes and certainties?
Just like that little portable step stool, something small has the potential to make a big difference in solving a problem. As I stared down at that folded up plastic step, I remembered how much of life it had given back to us. It had put out of sight many frustrating arguments and made each day – getting in and out of bed and traveling to the doctor or rehab something manageable. We were then able to think about what mattered more.
“By approaching my problems with “What might make things a little better?” rather than “What is the solution?” I avoid setting myself up for certain frustration. My experience has shown me that I am not going to solve anything in one stroke; at best I am only going to chip away at it.” ―
Is there a little adjustment, something small, you could do to make your own life (and the lives of others) so much easier?
How could a little plastic step stool (hint; metaphor) help you think about making some little changes in your thinking?
Use more thoughtful gestures and expressions in your casual interactions.
Accurate words (the truth) to communicate and frame your own self-talk.
Avoid falling into that tired script when you face that problem, again.
“Every single day in a thousand different ways, the script that I am writing across the pages of my life is dramatically impacting how others are writing theirs. And if I dare to recognize that I am writing far more scripts than this single one that I hold in my hand, would I not hold the page of this day and apply the pen of how I lived it in an unimaginably different way?” ―