Deal with problems ASAP

January 09, 2009|By BARTON GOLDSMITH / Scripps Howard News Service

When you ignore a problem, it doesn't just go away. Oh sure, you may be able to avoid thinking about it for a while. Unfortunately, serious issues always have a way of declaring themselves. If you don't take care of that little problem, it will eventually multiply.

Maybe it's a nagging toothache, not so bad that you really need to go to the dentist, but just bad enough to keep you from concentrating and being your best self. No biggie, right? Then one night you wake up in searing pain, and your dentist is on vacation.

Similarly, when you ignore problems within yourself or your relationship, they will only worsen with time. Dealing with your issues may make you momentarily uncomfortable, but not dealing with them will surely make you feel worse. As someone once said, problems have puppies, and your life becomes messier.

Don't get me wrong. I know that ignorance can be bliss. But once you know what's going on for you, or when you get a clue, it will rattle around in your subconscious, keeping you off-balance until you finally deal with it.


The first step in tackling any problem is to identify it and take responsibility for your part in it. Blaming others or taking on the role of victim won't help you heal. It has been said that resentment is a poison that damages its container more than what it is poured on. The most powerful thing you can do is to take 100 percent responsibility for your issue. When you do that, you have all you need to change things.

The next thing to do is to discuss the problem with someone you trust. You don't have to see a therapist. A good friend will do just fine. Getting an outside perspective will help you get clarity and move toward a solution, especially if that person has been through a similar experience. With a friend, you can also brainstorm alternative answers to your dilemma.

However, if you've been holding on to your problem for more than several weeks, and it's affecting your well-being, professional help is advisable. The longer you wait, the more challenging the solution.

Once you know what adjustments you want to make, the next phase is to come up with an action plan. Any movement forward is a positive one, no matter how small. It can help to make a checklist of things you need to do to resolve the problem. As each step gets crossed off, you will feel the progress.

Begin to implement your new behaviors as soon as you can, and don't allow yourself to procrastinate. Nothing will change until you take action, regardless of how good your intentions are. Solving problems requires that you see them, accept them and take the steps necessary to heal them.

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