Weekly Words of Wellness Archive
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• Living in Relationships
• Gaining Healthy Perspectives
• Practicing Self Care
• Building Values
Gaining Healthy Perspectives"Momisms 2013"
"Strength of Character"
"The Chess Teacher"
"What the Pope Election Teaches Us About Making Good Decisions"
"What's Your Story?"
"The Eyes of Our Children Are Upon Us"
"Many Kinds of Help"
"Your Christmas Present"
"Driving With Our Lights Off"
"Learning To Be A Good Referee"
"Rocking The Message"
"The Road Less Traveled"
"The Power of Prediction"
"Hope Against All Odds"
"A Whole New Light"
"Of Storms and Stories"
"Love and Delight"
"Outsourcing Our Resolutions"
"Unwrapping the Gift of Gratitude"
"As Sick As Our Secrets, As Well As Our Honesty"
"Your Current Balance"
"The Universal Wisdom of the Twelve Steps-Part 2""
"Back To School"
"Many Kinds of Love"
"The Best Time To Plant A Tree"
"Life Is Not A Spectator Sport"
"And To Dust We Shall Return"
"Listening to Whispers"
"Finding Our Voice"
"Light One Candle"
"Whatever We Pay Attention To Is What Will Grow"
"This Election Season, I Vote For......
“In the Autumn, Time Seems ‘Speeded Up’”
"Keeping the Problem, the Problem"
Deep Wells and Deep Wellness
In Honor of the World Cup: "The Beautiful, Simple Game"
"What Does 45 degrees feel like"
"How Do You Spell Success?"
"The Best Olympic Race of All"
"Life In Our Years"
Ritual and Community
Rose-colored or Tortoise Shell?
Of Mowing and Mindfulness
Endings and Beginnings
You’ve Got Talent
May Your Easter Joy Be Solid This Year
Can We? Yes. Will We? Perhaps.
October 04, 2010
"Keeping the Problem, the Problem"
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
I had the chance to spend this past weekend consulting with a church in northern Wisconsin that has been experiencing some low grade conflict amongst its members. To their credit, they wanted to proactively deal with the conflict, long before it became something serious. I shared two related ideas this weekend that the congregation really embraced. I share them with you because I think they are applicable to all of our lives, especially in our relationships with others. The first idea is to always remember that “the problem is the problem.” The second idea, which is directly related to the first, is to avoid making a particular person the “problem.”
Here’s an example of what this means. A few years ago my wife and I were canoeing on a large, remote lake in Canada. A strong thunderstorm arose without warning and we suddenly found ourselves in danger in the middle of a very large lake. We needed to get to shore immediately. In the midst of the stress that arose from this “problem” of the storm, we turned on each other. I yelled at her, “you’re not paddling hard enough,” and she yelled back, “it was your idea to come out here today--I told you a storm might be coming.” The thunderstorm was the problem in this case, but for a few moments, we had turned on each other, making the other person the problem, which of course only delayed our getting to shore more quickly as we fought in the middle of the lake!!
This same dynamic can come up in the workplace. Imagine a small business is experiencing slumping sales and everyone is anxious. The top leadership meets and decides that the sales people are the problem and blame their lack of effort for the downturn in sales. They call a meeting with the sales team to tell them this. The sales team has their own meeting first and they discuss how the real cause of the slumping sales is the leadership team. They blame the leadership team for their lack of foresight and vision to anticipate market conditions and develop a new strategy for the company. As you can imagine, the meeting is held and anger from both sides erupts and no fruitful dialog or plan for addressing the problem occurs. Why? Because both sides had already decided that the other side was the problem. They made a person, or a group of persons the problem, instead of making the problem, declining sales, the problem. It was more important to be “right” and to blame, than to solve the problem.
Here’s an another example, this time from family life. A teenager’s grades are slipping. The teenager blames the school and it’s bad teachers. Mother blames the teen for not trying harder and father blames mother for not making sure their teen is studying harder. The tension rises along with everyones’ voices, and nothing is resolved. What needs to happen instead, is for the the parents and teen to unite around their common concern about the problem (declining grades) so that they can work together to solve the problem. When we make a “person” the problem then division ensues and there is no united focus on solving the problem.
Making a person to blame for a problem leads to division and polarization. Keeping the focus on the problem as the problem provides the opportunity to unite and work together to resolve the issue at hand, proving that it is more important to be helpful, than to be right.