2 Problem Solving Killers

What is the most recent problem solving situation that you have personally faced in the past few days?

How did it turn out?

Did you know that one trait of a person who is living a resilient life is the ability to problem solve and make good decisions?

I don’t know about you, but it seems that in the past few years with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media we are overwhelmed with choices which have lead to real problems for some people and that is in the are of decision making and problem solving.

There seem to two primary mindsets that keep people from dealing with the stuff in their lives. At least from my observations after living on this blue marble for over six decades.

The first is the Big D word, Denial. People that choose to live in this lane of life tend to deny the impact of problems and issues in their lives at all costs. They do their best to live in the delusional state of denial because they are scared spitless of seeing the reality that is right in from of their eyes. Because of this mindset, they develop finely tuned skills to avoid some of the tough things in life.

So where do you think this type of living leads a person? Well, in my opinion, this denial mindset will lead you down a twisted path of insecurity, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustrations, jealousy and a whole lot more of yucky stuff.

The second mindset of people who avoid dealing with life issues is that of being a perpetual victim. While this mindset has been around for thousands of years, it seems to be enjoying a new surge in this modern age.

The Victim mentality. People with this mindset choose to believe there is not a single that they can do to solve a problem or deal with their stuff. When, in more cases than not, they could. I have said this before, but it is like some people want to play emotional pin the tail on the donkey. They are continually seeking ways to blame either others or circumstances for all that is going wrong in their lives.

While it might give the person choosing to be a victim a little bit of relief, it will ultimately lead to anger, emotional impotence, learned helplessness and despair.
Why do so many people choose to swim in the river of denial or attempt to pin the emotional tail on the donkey by blaming circumstance on others?

The simple reason, I think is because there is a quick payoff. It gives them a rush, a buzz, and maybe some relief to push the responsibility off on someone or something else. It is a quick fix that allows the person, at least for a moment to escape life’s problems as opposed to seeing problems as an invitation to growth, and change to learn something and maybe experience grace and goodness.

Let me ask you a question.

What do you do when it comes to dealing with some of the problems that come from being a human? Do you run from them, deny them, or blame your parents, upbringing, your ex or your diagnosis? Your answer will determine whether your life will be enriching, rewarding or bland and mundane.

In my counseling and coaching practice, one of the first questions I ask a client is something along the lines of how can I help you? The replies usually sound “I want to be happier. I want more peace in my life. I want to be more successful. I want to improve my relationships.” All of these are worthy goals.

Typically, after we talk about that for a few minutes, at least to the point that I feel I have some understanding, I will they ask something like, “What are you willing to do to get it? What are you ready to change? What problems do you anticipate and how will you deal with it?

At this point, things seem to come into clear focus.

I remember a few years ago I was asked to be on the faculty of a writer’s conference at the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference at what used to be the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center. Part of my job was to visit with hopeful writers and authors about their dreams. Needless to say, it was a blast being able to participate in such a great event.

I remember, one of the benefits of attending this conference is that every day the staff would meeting in this large room to visit with and listen to aspiring writer’s pitching their book ideas. This was always an exciting and impressive time to meet these people, listen to their stories and proving encouragement, maybe even some further networking opportunities.

And then I began to pick up on a trend. I spoke in a massive group session on the second day and when people realized that I was a licensed professional therapist I was inundated with potential authors who wanted to tell me of their travail of abuse, and neglect. As I listened to some of these stories I begin to feel like I was back in my office as a therapist. Not a great place to be when you are providing the types of services we were at the Writer’s Conference. At dinner that evening I was processing this sudden increase in authors wanting my input to their stories with a couple of older, female authors that I really respected. Their insight was invaluable. Luckily I’d asked several of the women who’d shared their story idea with me to check back with me the following day.

Here is how it went.

Five of the ladies came back the next day, as well as a few whom I’d not yet met.

I made sure I was listening and tracking each of these unique and painful stories that these potential authors were sharing with me. And then I would say something like, “Would you like my input and suggestions? To a person, they all said yes. Here was my reply.

I want you to look around this room and see how many women are here. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 1 in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some time in their life. One in three women and one in six men have experienced some type of contact sexual violence in their lives. And then I would say something like, “what makes your story different? In most cases, when I asked this, I would receive a shocked look of anger, and if stares could kill, I would have died 15 times that day. Fortunately not one of the emerging heroes bailed on me.

After I made that statement, I’d keep quiet and hope that they would ask a follow-up question and they did. After the initial shock of my statement they would ask, so what did I need to do.

This is the essence of what I told them. I would start off by telling them how proud I was that they were making a bold choice to share their story, but that to separate their story from everybody else they had to share how they addressed the problem of abuse and how they overcame it. I suggested before they wrote another word in their transcript that they exam what they were learning. In marketing terms, which you might feel is a little harsh, what was their unique selling point.

What was the principle, purpose, promise or prayer they were learning or had learned as a result of no longer denying their abuse and no longer blaming others for how they were dealing with the abuse?

I have to tell you the truth here, I did not want to hurt any of the women, but at the same time I wanted to challenge them to dig deep within and write their story of how they, with God’s help, found the courage to face their challenges and move from being a victim to an overcomer.

Over the next twelve to eighteen months I heard from several of these writers who thanked me for my comments. Two of them invited me to read and comment on their drafts, and a few of the others sent me notes and emails regarding my gently calling them out. I have to tell you, these women dared to not buy into the Denial Trap or the Blame Trap. And while there is a special place in Hell for people who sexually abuse other people, these ladies absolutely refused to let the perpetrator win.

These writers wanted a better life. They were beginning to understand that real, honest, long-term fulfillment comes through how we choose to confront and manage our struggles.


To be clear, I am not talking about “no guts no glory” or “no pain, no gain.”
Instead, how we face and manage our struggles, in large part determine our happiness and our success in this present life.

My wife says it best, “We are either in a struggle, coming out of a struggle, or preparing for a struggle.”
I think she is right on target. How about you? How are you managing the problems that come at you in your day to day life?

Ancient Wisdom
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess the perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Philippians 4:12-14 NLT

Be sure to read my next post, when I will talk about a third way to deal with problems, which I call resilient decision making.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

4 Actions You Can Take Overcome Fear

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“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them,” Brendan Francis.

Here are some steps I adapted from The Art of Manliness: 29 Days to a Better Man: Conquer Fear.

Change Your Perspective On Fear

Fear is only negative if you think it is. Fear is a natural process that if left unchecked will cause us to live timid, restricted lives. Truthfully, in life, there is zero growth without risk. Instead of pushing back fear as an all-consuming, nerve-racking experience, see it as an adventure, a journey that will take you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new life and bring a sense of joy and adventure. If you have ever conquered a fear, you know it can be exhilarating. So why don’t you try and scare yourself just a little today? You might like the outcome.

Adjust Your Perspective On Risk

The honest taproot for many of our fears is the fear of trying something and failing. What if I get rejected? What if I fail? Well, you could, but you will never know until you try. If you don’t take the risk, you will never know, and you are guaranteed to fail.

This might be uncomfortable for you, but my mission is to challenge you. In making such a decision, you are leaving out the possible long-term risk, a risk that could be far greater than a risk to your ego. The long-term risk is the danger of living an entirely average life. The risk is looking back on your life in 10, 20, or 30 years and feeling your stomach turn with regret and remorse.

The primary reason we miss opportunities God sends our way is fear. It is sad to say that when you miss a chance because of your fear, you will never get that moment back again.

Maybe it is time for you to update your risk criteria.

Act with Courage

Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be scared.”

Think about some of the men and women of the Bible who acted courageously: Ruth, Esther, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Gideon, David. And how about other historical figures?

SFC Leigh Ann Hester, Silver Star, American Hero.

I doubt you have heard of this hero. Sergeant now Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester was the first female to win the Silver Star in the Iraq War. This was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. Here is an excerpt from the citation:

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Hester “maneuvered her team through the kill zone into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 rounds,” according to the Army citation accompanying the Silver Star.

“She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous convoy members,” the citation stated.

Here are other, more well-known people who overcame fear and became world renown in their field:

Colbie Caillat, Singer.

This artist is one of my personal favorites. I enjoy her style, attitude, and lyrics. She is a two-time Grammy winner with over six million albums and 10 million single sales to her credit. Also, she was a two-time loser on [the television show] American Idol.

Reflecting back, she said, “I was shy, I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it. I was glad when I auditioned, and they said ‘no.’“

Kill Fear With Faith-Filled, Logical Thought Processes

Fear is usually a function of lack of confidence and low self- esteem. Many people are afraid because they think they will fail. But if they do it anyway—if they try to overcome their fear instead of letting their fear limit them—they find they can do it. Fear should not keep us from working.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;What can mere man do to me? Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

Think on this as we begin the freedom-from-fear journey together. Fear receives way too much airplay. Fear is the big bad boogeyman that grows by negative, contemplative thoughts that are re-runs of painful past events.

Fear is primarily mismanagement of our mental capacities.

Action Plan

Be sure to check out the final installment of how to overcome fear coming this weekend.

Recalibrate or Stagnate: The Choice is Yours!

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? In the interest of full disclosure, I am at about 60%, which, at least for me is not too bad.

The New Year is a time when so many of us consider making some changes in our lives; some people are looking to make some small changes others are looking to recalibrate, to reinvent themselves.

On the downside 80% of us will abandon most of those resolutions by mid-February, but what about the 20% that do keep them. So what are some ways to maintain those decisions, to recalibrate?

Resolution makers who have a measure of success move from thinking about making some changes to doing what it takes to make them hold. They intentionally move from a contemplative stage to an action stage.

Most of us have excellent ideas, ideas that will work. It might be to write a book, start a business, make some personal changes, or to suggest some changes in the workplace. The issue is that most of used a pretty lousy job of doing what it takes to execute those ideas. I know in my life, this has been an area of struggle.

I recently read an excellent article on medium.com by John Manshi titled, Only Three Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
He says, “When you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize that you only have two choices, change or die. I will not be physical death, but the death of a vision, or the end of a dream.”

Manshi discusses three types of reinvention, recalibration and they are the reactive reinvention, the proactive reinvention, and the reflective reinvention.

In my personal and professional life, I have experienced all three of these. Some of these recalibration phases were very difficult resulting in job loss, a dynamic loss of income and some short-term personal challenges. Other recalibration phases have led to positive, kinetic changes in my life, business, and marriage. I hope that some of my life experience, as well as my years of working as a professional counselor, will give you some insight and tools to help you make the changes, rekindled the dreams and move forward.

In this series, I am going to show you how each of the recalibration strategies work and how you can take this information and continue to make the positive changes in your life, your business and your relationship.

So, what will you choose to do? Will you choose to stagnate or recalibrate?

Let me give you a personal invitation to join my email list to follow me in this series.