My (original) blogging career turned into answering emails regarding people's problems, like a Dear Abby or Dr. Laura (without the "Dr." suffix).
"You are very insightful, and I am grateful for the time you take, not just to answer my question but all the questions that head your way." (the last email I received before calling it quits.
I quit blogging for a while.
I have been "fixing" people's problems, beginning with my own mother's when I was a kid. What kid gives good dating advice? A lot of them I'm sure, because they're not the one dating. They are objective.
Late night texts from friends with troubles, emails from strangers who needed help sorting out their life, and opening my house up to people like a crisis center explained my early adulthood. I literally heeded the mantra about turning no one away, being helpful, kind, and compassionate to all.
It was draining...
Very few people are dumb enough to solve the endless amount of problems people have. ENDLESS! And even less people would do it for free! F*ing stupid! I got paid for blogging, not answering a barrage of questions as long as the wall of China! That was out of the goodness of my own heart. And that was my problem.
I actually claimed, I would never be a counselor, even though I went to school for counseling, because I'd inundate myself with all my patients' problems and perpetually lie awake at night. Only one thing...I was just casually solving people's problems (between the hours of midnight and 2am). Same difference, right?!
I got pretty good at solving problems.
However, anybody with an objective viewpoint can tell anyone what they're doing wrong and how to fix their issue, because it's not their own life.
This is similar to yelling at a TV screen when one of the characters is doing something ridiculous- like can't you see the killer stalking you? No, he's too close...it's too obvious! But hey, people do murder their lives with endless problems.
I murdered a few years of mine solving them for people. But I don't think any stupid deed goes without a great big fat slap in the face, I mean lesson.
When I ran an advice column on my website (for 3 months), I couldn't make this sh*t up. I have heard everything. Yes, people really do use their brother to impregnate their wife if the husband can't help her conceive. Yes, it always ends badly. You solved one problem (fertility) and now you're looking at another problem (divorce and a new baby).
It wasn't until I received a 5-page "question" that I saw a pattern! I'd receive one question at a time, but somebody had the nerve (thank God for that) to submit a novel. If it wasn't for seeing 8 problems glaring back at me in one submission, I wouldn't have noticed that nearly all our problems boil down to just one thing.
And proximity. You're too close to your problems so your perspective is subjective and skewed.
There is no way some kid is going to have divine insight into the dating or work life of an adult (i.e. scenario between my mom and I). The reason why I was right 99% of the time was because I had an outside perspective.
An outside perspective, like a twice-removed second cousin, points out things you can't see. You're too close to the situation to have a good view.
You want to move from the eye of the storm to a witness; a witness to your own thoughts. This means watching your thoughts from a distance without associating yourself too heavily with them.
How on God's green earth does someone do that?
I've tried this (on myself and others) and it works tremendously. I started answering people with their own question. "How would you answer yourself".
Write down your problem- try to pick one or two only.
Next, take a day or two and read it back to yourself.
You've gained distance in perspective and proximity.
The goal is to have a view that incorporates a distance of time...
When solving problems, look for the answer now that supports the best possible future.
...and the problem as one facet of your entire life. Otherwise known as the big picture.
My mom would think about how she felt in the moment about someone she was dating. I was thinking about her- the person I knew all my life and who she was- in relation to how well she would jive with this person, realistically and in the future.
After you have written your problem on paper (with a pen...and all that jazz), have read it a few days later, now pretend you are me (not really, but go with me on this) and answer your question(s) as if it were some random person writing into you (Dear, Whatever your name is...).
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!