A problem is a relative term

What is or isn’t seen as a “problem” varies enormously for people. This was brought home to me very clearly when I was recently watching an episode of Australian Master Chef.

The “challenge” for the contestants was to cook the “perfect rare steak” – in a minimum time of course. The judges then tasted the steaks and gave their verdict. Only two contestants scored the “perfect rare steak” and were therefore “safe” from elimination. The rest were scored as “medium steaks”.

This was followed by reactions from contestants on hearing their respective “verdict”.

Contestant 1 – “It’s a kick in the guts. But you have to go on.”

Contestant 2 – “It’s a nightmare.”

In the final cook-off, one contestant remarked, “Fifteen minutes before the restaurant opened I felt completely under the pump and I felt like throwing in the towel – but I didn’t. And I’m so glad I didn’t.”

A “problem” is really a point of view – a perspective we take on a subject.  And if we take a negative perspective – or view – then we can too easily feel discouraged.  If on the other hand, we take a positive view of the situation at hand – for example – rather than feeling burdened by a “problem” – we think in terms of it being a “challenge” that will lead to some benefit – tangible or intangible – then we will feel completely different.  We will feel energized and keen to face the issue.

Whenever we find ourselves using words like “problem” that’s a clue to what we are thinking and how we might be feeling.  Whereas when we find ourselves using language like “challenge” that’s also a clue  –  feedback – about our internal state of mind – what we are thinking and feeling.  Provided of course that we see the “challenge” as “manageable”.

If we see a challenge as too big – too overwhelming – and we can tell this is the case because of how we feel (drained or overwhelmed) by the “challenge” – then we need to  break the challenge down into smaller “chunks” – smaller “bite-size” activities – that do feel manageable for us and therefore feel better for us.

After all a “problem” is a relative thing.


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