Sorry in advance for the long post on step 4 in problem solving……I think it is worth it! Blessings.
If you are joining Back 9 for the first time, the previous posts are looking at steps we can take to solving mild, moderate, or major problems in life:)
In my own life, when our 5 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I was scared to death! The unknown and lack of knowledge had me at the point where I couldn’t grieve or cry but just hold myself in a state of the “Unknown”. I was paralyzed with FEAR.
The adrenaline that is normally released in the human body to defend upon attack doesn’t last long (that is science, not Sherry Bradshaw talking). Quite honestly, diabetes was here for a lifetime and after three days of this new normal, my energy was gone. The adrenaline high now gone left me so tired my eyelids were heavier than ever! Thomas was diagnosed on a Friday, so we spent the weekend in the hospital waiting for diabetes education to start on Monday. Those three days of waiting for the training to start (the NEW KNOWLEDGE) were gut wrenching. Looking back now, I see the knowledge was the “antidote” to reverse the snake bite of fear that had worsened over the weekend.
On Monday morning qualified people, especially a nurse educator named Kay, were like superheroes to us. Kay flew in, swooped down and scooped me up like a mother eagle who then took me to her “nest of knowledge!” The next three days were like a slow drip of IV-B12 and fluids. My fear was slowly replaced with the “CLARITY” described in the last two days of journaling (Step 3 in problem solving). Ninety-nine percent of the time knowledge can diminish the emotion of the unhealthy fear that keeps us stagnant and unable to seek solutions to our problems. I now love and embrace the following quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Amen and Amen!!! Let’s advance………..
Step 4 in solving a problem is looking fear in the face and boxing it in.
Fear in life is unavoidable. It is real. Everyone experiences it. It is the emotion that can halt and paralyze us. It is probably the most common emotion we experience when a problem arises. It is also the emotion that hinders us most in problem solving.
Fear in and of itself can be healthy. I would describe that kind of fear as a reality-based fear. Do we know the difference between a healthy amount of fear and an over-the-top fear which is not healthy? Examples of healthy fear? I have bills that have to be paid at the end of every month…thus I must get up and work to earn the money to pay them. Or, if I walk home at night by myself and I am a 16 year old girl, there might be someone out there looking to harm me…..Reality-based fear can be a driving force to keep us healthy and safe, but it can also drive us into a state of constant anxiety. It can keep us stuck and going in circles, not going anywhere and can especially keep us from looking for solutions to our problems. It is tempting to then wander into the realm of over-the-top fear that can be debilitating and stop us dead in our tracks.
We understand fear can immobilize us. A key element here is that we become so afraid of making the matter worse, so we do nothing. Sometimes we react with a “fight or flight” mentality. A fight response means we act without thinking (not implementing the first three steps of problem solving), while flight means we pretend the problem doesn’t exist (which usually worsens the problem). Some of us wait around trying to think of the perfect solution which can be death to problem solving because usually there is “no perfect” solution. Be very careful to avoid that trap!
Bringing clarity to our problem and defining our problem, as we fleshed out in step 3, will always bring about a certain amount of fear. Facing fear and boxing it in is key…….hurdling fear can “speed dial” us to solutions. For me, BOXING IN fear includes:
- Trusting and going to God! He is bigger than any problem we will ever encounter. His lap is waiting for us to “rest in!” He has the “helicopter view.” Sometimes, when we turn our problems over to ALMIGHTY GOD, we see HIS STRONG INVISIBLE ARMS….VERY CLEARLY AND PROFOUNDLY. I can honestly say….that hundreds of times in my life… the unseen wind of God’s breath has rained down on me and our family providing comfort and peace and He has led me to solutions!!! Psalm 9:10, “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” I could recount endless stories of God’s provision but I will put those in book form where I have more room to write!
- Knowledge: Seek it….. This has been a significant area in which God has prompted me and taught me much over the years. I have to put down my PRIDE (I don’t have to know everything). Seek knowledgable people whom God has equipped in an area and “hook the IV up to my arm” and diminish my fear of the unknown. A crafty tool of the enemy is to “attack in an area” of our lives in which we have little knowledge and whisper in our ear, “You should know that,” or “Don’t tell anyone. They will think you are stupid.” Or he tells us we might appear weak if we seek the knowledge we need. Any of those lies ring true for you??????
- Unload on a few safe people!! Be vulnerable and allow them to join you in praying for this problem and its solution. I am here to tell you in no uncertain terms that there is POWER IN PRAYER!
- Add structure to your life. Structure proves to lessen anxiety and bring about a calm. Structure can give you a sense of control when a problem seemingly takes control. When we arrived home from the hospital with Thomas (age 5) and had two other children at home who were age 7 and 2 1/2, we had a new disruptive normal–needles, insulin, checking and journaling blood sugars and new food. Paying attention to the time of day to eat was at an all NEW level of importance. I could go on an on but you get the picture.I immediately implemented the advice from the nurse educator and PUT THE OLD STRUCTURE BACK IN PLACE, AND ADDED NEW STRUCTURE. The predictability of the added structure took this “mom” of three with a new scary disease and gave me a “blanket of comfort and peace.” Coupled with a dependence on God that I had never experienced before allowed me the thoughts and positive attitude of, “I can do this…..!” The first day home from the hospital I started my daily exercise routine which required me to leave Thomas in the care of someone else (Thomas had not be out of my air space in 2 weeks!!). Those safe people I refer to in number 3 were the ones I used to help me take a leap of faith and trust them to watch him.
- Adapt to reality! For me the reality was life was never going to be the same. There is NO cure for Type 1 diabetes, hope always in the future, but reality was–no cure so prepare to have it for a lifetime! When facing a problem, reality no doubt will change things like how you invest your time and mental energy. Adapting allows you, over time, to conserve your energy. Even though most humans don’t really like change, learning to adapt and make adjustments in life when small or big problems roll your way, can be just the energy you need to be on the road to a solution!
Don’t try to “swim against the current.” Adapt or learn how to go around the “road block.” It might only be temporary!
I encourage you to choose to stare fear in the face….. don’t let it bite you! Take the steps to attack the enemy who seeks to devour you with the emotion of unsafe, unhealthy fear. God’s plan is for each of us to be an “overcomer!”
Tomorrow is about “Controlling what you own!!” (Step 5)
Blessings to you. My prayer is that life, for each of us, can get back to a God-created LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE WHEN WE LEARN TO EMBRACE, FACE AND SEEK SOLUTIONS TO LIFE’S PROBLEMS.
Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”