Addicted to Our Problems
We live in a therapy culture. We are taught to talk about our problems so we may find a way to resolve them. Problems, problems, problems. We have become addicted to our problems. People feed off of them. They talk about them to friends, family, co-workers. Problems are talked about so much it would be safe to assume that people are becoming much healthier emotionally compared to our ancestors. Is this the case? I don’t think it is.
I disagree with the “professionals” that talking about your problems is healthy. I don’t want you to think that I am a proponent of hiding issues or living in denial. I do think that acknowledging problems is important, but not as important as being focused on your desired outcome. Energy flows to where focus goes. If your focus is your problems rather than your outcome, your problems run your life. Spending too much energy on problems is not healthy-it’s toxic.
I don’t talk about my problems much. I readily acknowledge that I have various health issues including spondylitis and asthma. However, I don’t focus on it or talk about it much. My problems are not a part of my identity. I do not let them control me, or the emotional states I live in. Yes, they do exist. No, I am not better talking them to everyone. Nor is anyone else better off having heard what ails me. I do not direct my energy to what I do not want.
I believe the ancient stoic and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius gave us sound advice for dealing with problems, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” The Stoics school believed in maintaining tranquility throughout life. They did not believe this was possible if your thoughts and actions were focused on problems instead of your desired outcome. Stoicism is a philosophy worth looking into. I believe reading Seneca or Marcus Aurelius, two men of great wisdom and power can help you navigate the road of life with a little more perspective.