We Only Have 3 Choices When Solving Problems

All of us experience problems in our lives. These problems can cause us a lot of heartache and unhappiness if we do not know how to deal with them. They make us worry, lament, stress-out, get angry and bitter. But what if we realized that all problems only have 3 solutions? Wouldn’t that make our choices so much easier?

The first time I truly grasped that all my problems only have 3 solutions, I felt liberated. This is not to say that I no longer experience my fair share of problems because I certainly do. What it does mean, however, is that I know that I have 3 clear choices in dealing with them.

Now let’s look at the 3 options we have when it comes to dealing with any problem or problematic situation:

  • Change it
  • Leave it
  • Accept it

It might seem overly simplistic, but the fact is that once we realize that those are the only choices we have when it comes to dealing with our problems, we can then decide which one of the 3 is appropriate in each situation. It makes problem-solving a lot easier. And these options apply to any circumstance we face.

Change It

The most obvious option we have when it comes to solving a problem is to change the situation. Let’s look at a few examples: Imagine that our doctor tells us that we are at risk because we are overweight. We can decide to change the situation by exercising and getting healthy. If we are suffering financially because we are finding it difficult to obtain a good job, we can change it by going back to school to get better qualifications, we can tap into our network of friends asking them to help us secure a decent job, we can work two jobs simultaneously, etc. If we are lonely and do not have many friends, we can change it by joining a social group, making ourselves more interesting, and by being more friendly. If we are unhappy because we are constantly arguing with our spouse or partner, we can change it by going for relationship counseling, we could read books to learn how to become more patient and less confrontational, we can even try to get our partner to change (this does not always work).

When it comes to changing your situation, it is important to realize that not every situation can be changed. A good example is trying to change someone else when that person has no desire to change whatsoever. We cannot make a person change because only that person can make that choice. Too often in life, we forget this fundamental fact. If morning commute traffic irritates us, it is not possible to change traffic patterns (but we could take an alternative route to work!). If our boss is unreasonable and always critical of us, it may not be possible to change his ways no matter how hard we try. If we live in Florida and find the weather too hot, obviously it is not something we can change.

The key is to know when we can change the situation and when you cannot. It is pointless and frustrating trying to change things that we have no power over. One of the biggest causes of unhappiness is trying to exert control over things that we have no control over. Some people spend years trying, only to end up disappointed.

Leave It

If we decide that we cannot change a problematic situation, the next option is to leave it. If our boss is critical and unreasonable, we can make the decision to leave that job and find a new one. If our partner is constantly unfaithful to us, we can leave him or her. If we reside in Florida and hate the weather, we can leave and move to Seattle. If we have a friend who is toxic company, we can distance ourselves or stop being friends with that person. If we do not like the school we are currently enrolled in, we can enroll in a different one. If we have a neighbour who is always picking a quarrel with us, we can move to a new neighbourhood.

Leaving the current problematic situation is sometimes the best option, but many people do not consider it. Instead, they waste a lot of time trying to rectify the situation, which is not always possible. It is important to be realistic and not spend valuable time trying to change a situation that we have no control over.

Accept It

If we cannot change it or leave it, the third and final option we have when it comes to dealing with a problem is to accept it. This is probably the most overlooked option. Deciding to truly accept a situation that we cannot change or leave is is not a sign of weakness or resignation. On the contrary, it is a sign of wisdom. By accepting our predicament, we liberate ourselves from heartache and pain. We can come to the realization that our unrealistic expectations and thoughts were causing us distress rather than the actual situation itself.

There are many times when the only option is to relax, take a deep breath, and accept a situation for what it is. You will be amazed just how freeing that can be. If we had a tough childhood because of a bad parent, there is nothing we can do about the situation other than to accept it. If we are short and not as tall as we would like to be, we should accept it. If we once wasted a few years being in a bad relationship, we can accept it, learn from it and move on. If we hate the weather in our city but do not have the option to change it or leave, we can accept it and find positive things about our place of dwelling.

Believe it or not, those are the only 3 choices we have when it comes to dealing with our problems. Whenever I experience problematic issues, I run through all 3 options and decide which one would serve me best. It has simplified my life so much and made me a much happier person. Change it, leave it, or accept it. When it comes to solving our problems, it’s all we have.

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  • Cashmere

    Problems, very good article, food for thought. I have lived long enough to recognize problems are sometimes not a problem. People have a tendency to create problems in times of difficulty. For example, a person gets stopped by a police officer and the driver is given directives to follow, and the driver can not follow the officers request or choose not to follow his orders. Thus, creating a problem out of a uncomfortable situation. Conversations are another example of creating problems for people who can not control their tongue. I witness this down fall daily dealing with co-workers who open up a can of worms because they must be heard….sometimes we are our own biggest problem.

  • David Naidu

    Good points, Cashmere. Thank you! Sometimes we need to get out of our own way.

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