When you’re taking fire it’s easy to feel like you’re on an island. Like there’s some imperceptible barrier between yourself and everyone else. Like only you are able to comprehend the unique make up of your problem.
So you erect walls. You close yourself off. You don’t talk about what you’re going through. Nobody else understands. Nobody can help you.
Except they can.
While the specific details of your problem may be special, the general pattern is not. Most of our problems are not unique. They’ve been tackled and defeated by thousands and thousands of others.
So before you look for a way through your problem, first identify the meta-problem.
Here are some examples of meta-problems:
- Bad or unhealthy relationships.
- Fulfilment and happiness at work.
- Difficulty learning or progressing.
- Lack of personal energy or unhappiness.
- Insufficient money or wealth.
- Grief and loss.
Under each meta-problem could be listed an infinite amount of specific problems. But the steps required to overcome them are, for most cases, remarkably similar.
For example, a lack of personal energy, for most people, usually comes down to health. Meaning they aren’t eating, moving and sleeping right.
Unhappiness typically is a consequence of trying to control what is outside of our control, becoming attached to too many things, and not practising gratitude.
When you see every problem first as a meta-problem, the steps to overcoming it become clearer. And it also reminds you that you are not alone. Many others have fought this very same fight. A lot of them have won. But even those who lost can become your teachers.
Instead of wallowing in despair and lamenting the uniqueness of your supposedly intractable problem, consider meta-problems. Try to categorise your issue as part of a bigger, higher cluster.
Then think about everyone else who has gone through a version of the same thing and come out better, stronger and wiser.
You can do that too.