"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."
My (original) blogging career turned into answering emails regarding people's problems, like a Dear Abby or Dr. Laura (without the "Dr." suffix).
I wrote about life, but that seemed to open up a can of worms. I quit blogging for a while.
I took some time to reflect. "Fixing" people's problems began when I was a kid, navigating my mother's problematic life. What kid gives good dating advice? A lot of them I'm sure, because they're not the one dating. It's pretty easy to see a problem for what it is, when you're on the outside of it.
And it continued from there...
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, describes 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! But sign me up! I did it! I got paid for blogging, not answering a barrage of questions as long as the wall of China! That part of the deal was out of the goodness of my own heart...and habit.
That was my problem.
Even with obtaining my Psychology degree, I resolved that I would never be a counselor. I pictured myself inundated by patients' problems and perpetually lie awake at night. Yet here I was... just casually answering (and solving) people's emails (between the hours of midnight and 2am). Same difference, right?! Duh!
I got pretty good at solving problems that I noticed it wasn't exactly rocket science.
It turns out 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. In fact my comment sections- turned forums- there were people with problems giving great advice to others with problems.
We have an ability to see others lives more clearly than our own sometimes.
This is similar to yelling at a TV screen when one of the characters is doing something ridiculous-CAN'T YOU SEE THE KILLER RIGHT BEHIND YOU ? No. Too close. Too obvious! But hey, people do murder their lives with endless problems.
I murdered a few 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 new 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, a baby, and co-parenting).
It wasn't until I received a 5-page "question" that the mother of answers revealed herself! Typically, 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 eight(!!!!) problems glaring back at me in one submission, I wouldn't have noticed that nearly all problems boil down to just one thing.
And proximity. You're too close to your problems so your perspective is subjective and skewed up. If you keep trucking along in life like this, you pile up a hefty list of issues.
"To diagnose yourself requires the ability to achieve some distance from those on-the-ground events", says Harvard Professor Ron Heifetz. "Getting on the balcony (figuratively speaking)provides the distanced perspective you need to see what is really happening".
Also, when solving problems, look for the answer now that supports the best possible future.
There is no way some kid has enough experience in life to have divine insight into the dating or work life of an adult (i.e. scenario between my mom and I). But the reason I was right 99% of the time was because I had an outside perspective.
An outside perspective, like a twice-removed second cousin you've never met, is able to point out things you can't see. You're too close to the situation to have a good view. Take a trip up into a hot air balloon and suddenly objects that were once larger than life become ant-sized!
Some people claim they need to "get away", and while you can't successfully run away form problems, you can gain perspective by doing this.
You want to move from the eye of the storm to a witness or observer of your own thoughts and problems. 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?
When you write it down, magic happens...
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?"
The goal is to have a view that incorporates a distance of time and perspective...
The problem is but one facet of your entire life. Otherwise known as the big picture.
My mom, like most people, would think about how she felt in the moment whether it was someone she was dating or an issue with a co-worker. Her vision of the events was too narrow. On the other hand, I was thinking about her- the person I knew all my life and who she really was- in relation to how well she would best handle those situations.
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!