DEALING WITH YOUR BIG PROBLEM
I just started another week of psychotherapy work, after 10 days vacation. These breaks allow me to see my work with fresh eyes—and what always strikes me is the depth of people's stuckness to their "big problem"
. The big problem varies, of course, but we all share the same process. We're sick of our big problem.
Its craziness is apparent to even a casual observer.
The big problem has been around a long time.
We hate our big problem.
We talk about getting rid of our big problem.
The big problem is connected to other big or little problems.
Our big problem will be here next week.
It is a wonder we can even lift our heads off the pillow.
What to do? Ah, with what tender affection I would say to you, "We're all the same, love yourself even with your big problem, we all have to live on amazing grace, this will help you be humble, and, shhh, quietly, with a bit more resolve see if you can find a creative new way to look at the big problem and chip away at that rock or give it a great big blast of dynamite
… but do keep hoping and fighting because your effort is uplifting to your fellow travelers who are working away at their big problems and….and… if you don't give up, I won't give up on myself either."
In other words, a key component to success is a rather unexciting reality called endurance
. To endure is simply to keep at it, to not give up on ourselves, even though we may feel like "we are the only one with a big problem."
It is easy to feel that way in our culture, where politicians will not get elected or stay in office if we discover that they have a big problem. And gurus and preachers will be tossed from their pedestals if we discover they are just like us. It seems like we all have to play the game—"no, I do not have a big problem"—and so we have many secrets, many pretenses, so much hypocrisy, and so much internal pressure.
Know this—you are not alone, we've all got a big problem or two or three.
I'm not suggesting you go on an afternoon talk show and tell the world your Big Problem. But you can at least go have a wee chat with a therapist or your very best, most gracious friend (who has a Big Problem too) and you will discover that even a Big Problem shared is a big problem cut in half.
I've been a psychotherapist for about 20 years and I have seen many people with Big, Big problems. And I have seen so many of them get better—people whose shoes I could not walk in from their chair to the door. And their courage and endurance has been so uplifting for me, so illuminating, that I have already started a crusade that not only does not blame or isolate victims, but instead applauds the Big, Big Problemed as the true heroes of our day.
Their example and courage is, in my opinion, the greatest motivator to face our big problem and not give up.