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Dealing With Problem

As a practitioner, lecturer and Tutor, I have the pleasure of interacting with adults from a variety of backgrounds and ages. In almost 30 years of work, the one thing I have noticed that we all have in common is, we all have, ‘problems’. To better understand how I could serve the people I was working with, I started on a ‘Journey of learning’…. or the Personal Development journey. What do I mean? Simply that I started reading a variety of literature and attending as many courses to help expand my way of thinking. Here are some thoughts on this extensive topic.

Reframing Problems to Challenges

Words are powerful. What we say and how we say it can have an enormous impact on our lives. One of the many useful things I learnt from the courses I attended was the value of reframing words. To better understand this let’s take the word problem for example.

One dictionary definition is:

‘Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty’

How about if I use the word ‘Challenge’ to replace Problem.

A definition of challenge is:

‘a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort’

So, looking at the two words, which ‘feels’ better to you? When I was asked this, I realised that my inner feeling around Challenge was different to my feeling around the word Problem. For me, Problem felt like something unwanted thrusted upon me, whilst a Challenge was something I could ‘rise up’ against. Think on these…. Health Challenge, Business Challenge, Relationship Challenge etc replace the Challenge with Problem…. How does it make you feel? This then starts to take us into the realms of ‘Self-Talk’, e.g., the things that we say to ourselves all the time such as, “I’m such a dummy”, “I’m so stupid”, “I’m not good enough” and so on. We have this constant dialogue going on with ourselves……If our dialogue is negative, it can have such a damaging effect on our lives, not least in causing things like stress and depression. This in itself is a huge topic and for the purposes of this blog we will leave it at that.

Challenges are ‘Normal’

Personally, it took me some time to appreciate the value of this. Many notable figures have commented on this point:

Martin Luther King said:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy”

Mohandas K Gandhi said at a time when he was advocating Non-Co-operation with the British Regime in India and was himself under pressure not to speak out against violent retaliation.

“Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Tony Robbins, author, speaker, life and business strategist says:

“Every problem is a gift–without problems we would not grow.”

Tony Robbins concept of Problems/Challenges being a ‘Gift’ and that they are needed to ‘Grow’ as a person, really resonated with me. It has been my experience that challenges have the potential to make us more compassionate, reflective, understanding, less judgmental and overall humbler as a human being. Unfortunately, they can also have the opposite effect.

From an Islamic perspective

In one of the approved books on the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) it is related that:

“When Allah decrees good for a person He afflicts him” (Bokhari).

As a Muslim, the final word must go to our holy book, The Quran:

We will surely try you with somewhat of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, then give glad tidings to the steadfast (2:156).

O ye who believe, seek the help of Allah through steadfastness and Prayer; surely Allah is with the steadfast (2:154).

We will surely try you until We make known those from among you who strive in the cause of Allah, and those who are steadfast (47:32).

May the Almighty give us the strength to stay steadfast throughout any challenges that appear in our lives. Ameen