The Problem with Problems


Problems when they arise can cause all kinds of issues.  They can play on minds causing worry and anxiety, or they scare people so much that they avoid them.

Instead of worrying about or avoiding problems, people could instead face them head on and overcome the challenges they present.  The problem can then often be resolved or overcome.

When it comes to problems, attitude can make all the difference.  It is not the problem itself that presents issues, but rather the way in which people think and feel about the problem can create different results.

I worked with a client who was experiencing difficulties selling her product.  She felt     that the product she had created was not good enough and was ready to quit.  She took the lack of sales personally and felt like she has failed.

We spent some time exploring her product and her customers.  She was then able to identify that her product may not be suitable for her existing target audience, but instead she needed to find a new audience.  We worked until she was able to identify who her audience would be and how she might approach them.

Because she was so despondent about the lack of sales she was initially unable to identify another outcome to her problem.  Once she saw a possible solution she found the motivation to explore her options and felt a lot more positive as a result.

Approaching problems in a negative way can also have an impact on other areas of people’s lives.  This can then result in a negative spiral that can be very difficult to get out of.

In order to change your thoughts and feelings about problems, consider the ways in which you respond:

  • Think of problems as challenges that can be overcome, or opportunities from which you can gain experience.
  • Consider similar situations that have had a positive outcome.  Can similar actions be applied to your current challenge?
  • Think of your options or possible solutions.  What creative ways can you think of to overcome your challenge?
  • Act on a solution.  Problems don’t solve themselves.  In order to resolve take positive action.
  • Focus on the solution and not the problem.  Focussing on the solution will help you tackle the challenge with a more positive outlook.
  • Engage in positive self talk.  If you tell yourself you can achieve it, you will eventually believe that you can!

“Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution.  The easiest way to escape from a problem is to solve it.”

– Unknown –

Positive Thinking

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”

– Mahatma Ghandi –

It is easy to tell yourself or others to think positively, but when most of us have experienced setbacks in the past it often feels prudent to prepare ourselves for the worst to avoid disappointment.

The way in which you think can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think positive thoughts you are more likely to experience positive outcomes, whereas negative thinking is more likely to result in an outcome that we don’t want.

Think of the times you have thought “I can’t do that.” Maybe you didn’t even try, thinking that it was pointless, or maybe you made a half-hearted attempt, not wanting to waste too much time and energy. Either way, you were likely to find that you didn’t achieve what you wanted.

A simple mind shift where you believe that you can achieve something can make a big difference to your attitude and approach to your goals.

The first step to combating negative thinking is to become aware of it. Only when you recognise that you are doing it can you do something about it.

Once you are aware your negative thoughts, start to challenge them. Question whether the thoughts are reasonable and on what grounds are they based.

Finally try to replace negativity with rational, positive thoughts and focus on the good things that could be realised if you succeed

The way in which you think is a habit. Most of the time we are not aware of our thoughts and so, it takes time and practice to break the habit of negative thinking.

As you put your new way of thinking into action, be careful not to confuse positive thinking with fantasising. While positive thoughts are the first step towards achieving your goals, you also need to take action to get where you want to be.

By thinking positively and acting in a positive way, your chances of success will improve.


Fear of Failure

Some of us are so afraid of failing that we avoid even attempting to realise our goals. Fear of failure can cause people to stand still and do nothing rather than moving forward. As a result they risk missing out on great opportunities.

The concept of failure depends on the perspective of the person taking action. Most of us fail at some point in our lives. To some this just means that we need to try something else. To others the possibility of failure can feel like the end of the world.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) refers to the presupposition that “there is no failure, only feedback”.

Reframing failure as feedback can help us to think of it as a valuable lesson that teaches us what doesn’t work.

Henry Ford stated that “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.

Lack of success is therefore an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work so that we can modify the steps we take towards our goals and try something else.

If you find that you are avoiding taking action, consider the following:

  • What are the potential outcomes?
  • What is the worst that could happen if you don’t get the outcome you are looking for?
  • What are your options in the event of the worst case scenario?
  • What else could you try if your first attempt doesn’t result in success?
  • What could you be missing out on if you don’t take action?
  • What could the positive difference be if you take action and succeed?

If taking action still feels risky, consider breaking down your goals into smaller more manageable steps. This can help to prevent you feeling overwhelmed and boost your confidence through smaller successes.

“Take risks. If you win you will be happy. If you lose you will be wise” – Unknown –


Some people take change in their stride and accept it as part of everyday life. Others thrive on it and are constantly seeking the next challenge. However for many of us change can be a daunting prospect. This isn’t surprising given that we have grown up around phrases such as “don’t rock the boat” and “better the devil you know”.

We have been pre-conditioned to want to keep things as they are because it makes us feel safe. We know how it feels and we know we can cope with circumstances in the here and now.

Often change just happens to us. This can feel as though we have no control over what is happening. As we all like a certain amount of control over our lives this can be very unsettling. However change can present many opportunities. A job loss may result in an opportunity to explore a new and exciting career. The end of a relationship may encourage you to take up new and interesting hobbies.

Sometimes we consider actively instigating changes in our lives, but may be afraid to take big steps into the unknown because we perceive it to be risky. We therefore miss potentially great opportunities because of our fears.

As part of the coaching service I offer I work with people who are looking to make changes in their lives, but are being held back by something they are often unable to define. By exploring their fears and uncertainties around change we can often understand what it is that is preventing them from moving forward.

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind.
To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse.
To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better.
To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.”
King Whitney Jr.

No longer be fearful of change that has been well thought through. Be confident that change whether initiated or not is an opportunity for something that may lead to great things.