The problem with problems

I’ve been thinking recently about the problems with problems. How what seems like a simple situation that could easily be resolved with EFT or NLP seems to be much more stubborn than it should be.

Imagine for a moment that you are afraid of flying. There are faraway places you would like to go, but the thought of getting on a plane just scares you silly!

It seems like a simple problem; you can’t fly, and that’s it! Maybe that’s it is that simple. A few rounds of EFT, the problem is resolved, then off you go, travelling the world collecting Air Miles with you new found freedom. Problem solved!

Problems are not the problem, coping is the problem.

Virginia Satir, Family Therapist

What if it wasn’t quite that simple? Perhaps you’ve had this problem for years. You’ve tried everything: gin and tonics, valium, hypnotherapy, homoeopathy, nothing has worked, you’re just as scared as ever you were. You might be forgiven for starting to think that there’s something wrong with you. You might even berate yourself with, “I should be able to get over this!”, “What’s wrong with me?” and “I’m a such hopeless case!”. Perhaps you know someone who talks like this about themselves.

Now having the problem is a problem in it’s own right. As well as the difficulties of flying, you have to contend with a layer of judgement and self-recrimination. The problem becomes as stick with which you beat yourself. In our culture, which has a high degree of self-criticism, it’s very easy to fall into this way of thinking. So now there is this aspect of the problem to deal with.

When you make a choice, you don’t just choose what you choose. You also choose everything that goes with it.

Mike DeBusk

Not content with this level of difficulty, let’s add another. Let’s pretend that your in-laws are an ocean away, maybe Australia or Canada, which is good because you don’t get on with them very well. They have given you an open invitation to come for an extended visit. Fortunately they are sympathetic about your flying problem and understand how you can’t make the trip.

If you successfully deal with the fear of flying problem, you will be presented with the ‘fear of the in-laws’ problem! Now the solution of the first problem appears to be a problem in itself.

The payoff of the problem is so common it’s been given a name ‘Secondary Gain’. If there are secondary gains tucked away in the problem, and they usually are tucked away out of awareness, the problem may be much more resilient to your efforts than you’d expect.

All these aspects of the problem are workable with EFT, NLP or whatever your favourite techniques might be. So if you’re feeling stuck with a difficulty, which doesn’t seem to want to change, you might like to try investigating the problems with problem.

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