How Much Are You Part of The Problem?

13 February 2012, by A. Cedilla

Here’s what I want to you to come away with:

  • Examine the chronic issues in your life and look at the part you play in them, as well as how your way of dealing (denial, stone-walling, abdication, no-response etc.) affects you.
  • Examine how long you are willing to deal with the effects of your actions. How far will you tolerate the strain?
  • Make the decision to change things, or let them stay the same.
  • Recognize the ways to protect yourself and recognize how far your powers go.

How much do you figure you factor into some of the problems that you are facing?
Think about it. Look at your life right now. I’m willing to hazard a guess that while you may be enjoying a stable environment –and good for you!– you still have some issues hiding behind closed doors, ones that often keep you up at night. And as with childhood monsters in the closet, you have to turn the lights on to confront these issues, even if today some of the situations they lead to may be ones of your own making.

Part of what we’re talking about now are boundaries – knowing which issues are yours, and which ones aren’t. We also need to include recognizing our limits.

  • Now you may think “boundaries” and “limits” are the same thing, but for the sake of clarity, let’s spell it out. In this context, boundaries protect you, and limits show you where your influence ends.
  • It’s important to have both of these things; Without one, you let people run over you, and without the other you can run yourself into the ground.

Then we need to throw in responsibility. How much accountability do you assume for your actions, or the results of your non-action that rebound on you?

  • Assess the core areas of your life that mean the most to you: Family/Relationships, Health, Business, Finances etc.
  • ID the big and/or chronic issues that dominate them.
  • Assess these issues squarely in the context of how much can be affected by your actions – release, dump, delegate, discard, re-examine…
  • Ask yourself how much your actions influenced the outcome in your favor.

Answering this question asks us to first uncover the following:

  • What are the big and-or chronic issues that you keep encountering? Get this out on paper. Group them into areas. For example, breaking things down into categories like Money, Business, House, Family, etc.
  • Write these things down to help define the problems you are experiencing, and get them out of your head

Examining how you interpret certain situations can put your perception on effect and ownership into question. Things that happened to you, done to you….look at them again.

  • If you feel it’s all your fault, that you deserved it, you may be doing yourself a genuine disservice by taking on things that aren’t yours to bear. That’s crazy-making, right there.
  • On the other hand, putting all the blame on the other parties involved also removes your capacity to respond to the occasion, and reduces you to being a helpless pawn. And you’re not.

Misplaced ownership can also spawn more troubles when you ignore vital connections, cutting them off. “Hey, this is not my problem – what does this have to do with me?” is an attitude also known by the acronym NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

If you wait to act only when you’re affected, you have to know at that point that you missed something.

And weak or uncertain boundaries weaken you. “THEY are doing this to ME,” places you as the victim, target, the person acted upon — you feel singled out and work yourself into a lather– when in fact, you may be only one of many in the same boat.

A lack of knowledge about options often leaves us feeling powerlessness — and the more severe form of this is learned helplessness. This is one of the most insidious (and most common) beliefs that plague people. If you don’t believe you can change anything, you act accordingly.

This isn’t a blaming exercise. This is a way to turn your head around and instead of being someone things happen to, you learn to look at yourself in a new light and see someone who can influence their environment. A person who responds instead of reacts. Who trains himself to develop foresight and learns from his mistakes — and learning from mistakes asks that you examine your part in the issues you are facing in your life.

What can I change?
What is realistically in your sphere of influence? Be honest here. The president’s sphere of influence is bigger by several orders of magnitude from, say, someone working the counters at a diner.

And your sphere changes in the environment you’re in as well. You may be the VP of financial ops at work, but to a teething 4-month old, you’re either someone who can help make the pain stop, or just somebody who…doesn’t.

How can I use my capabilities to influence the situation?
Asking yourself, “What issues will I encounter on the way?” forces you to examine your perspective on what you actually can affect, what is your issue to deal with and what will be asked of you.

Sometimes it’s a matter of digging deeper than surface information…like doing more research. Sometimes it means rejecting the first easy option for another, one which will prove out as being better in the long run.

Examining your past record of conflict resolution and problem solving, how will you sabotage this to return to status quo (the ‘safety’ of your comfort zone)?
You know you do this, right? You want the problems solves ASAP, then as soon as it looks like everything’s OK, you sweep the whole thing aside to focus on the next thing…leaving loose ends to twist, root themselves into your life and gain strength unnoticed. If you’re in the habit of ignoring problems, that’s another thing that contributes to your problem areas.

What this boils down to is attitude – how much are you an agent in your own life, and how willing are you to be responsible for your actions?

And did you see what I did there? The little bit of misdirection that also answers the question? If your part of the problem, that also means you’re part of the solution, and the bigger part you play, the more power you have to change things.

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