How to deal with your issue
“I have dealt with it”. That is a phrase I have often heard from clients that I have worked with and from people I have spoken to in informal contexts. This is obviously in reference to problems (of an emotional nature) with people or situations in their lives. Prevailing wisdom would tell us that “dealing with” a problem would mean finding some kind of solution which effectively puts a stop to its detrimental effects (i.e. physical and/or emotional pain) on us for good. However, what I have found is that most of the time, when someone says “I have dealt with it”, what they really mean is they have found a good way to NOT have to deal with it! So they usually mean one of these things…
- I have been successful at NOT THINKING about the problem. (This is achieved by pushing it out of your conscious mind. Mind you, the older you get, the harder this becomes! I have seen this all too often!).
- I have managed to KEEP OUT the problem from my life. (This is achieved by avoiding people or situations that trigger the problem).
- I have been able to DISTRACT MYSELF from the problem. (This is achieved by engaging in habits and activities that significantly take our attention away from the problem and alter our moods).
And if you’re of a faith-based orientation, you may choose to PRAY about the problem. I have no issues with that whatsoever. But here’s the thing – what if God wanted you to MAKE PEACE with the problem? I am often reminded of the passage in biblical scripture which goes “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Just as an illustration, let’s apply the above methods of dealing with a problem in the context of a mechanical one. Which of you, if your car had faulty brakes would choose any of the above three options in dealing with it? If I chose Option 1, I would continue driving and ignore the fact that the car’s brakes didn’t work. With Option 2, I would leave my car in the shed and never drive it again. As for Option 3, I may turn up the music each time I am driving so my attention isn’t on the faulty brakes. Clearly by this point you would think I was out of my mind and that my actions were absolutely ridiculous! Well, my question is if so, then why do so many of us handle our emotional problems that way?? The simple answer is that many have no clue how to deal with it! It is only for a small minority that actually mean what they say when they say “I have dealt with it”.
To really deal with a problem, one or more of these things needs to happen.
- I have actively taken steps to successfully address and resolve the problem once and for all. (Note that I am not referring to failed attempts here or temporary quick-fix solutions!)
- I have found peace within myself in relation to the problem. (i.e. Thinking about the problem no longer arouses disturbing and hurtful emotions).
- I have forgiven the offending party (which may include yourself if applicable).
For those who have never had the opportunity to experience what their lives would be like when they actually deal with the problem, the thought of finding peace or even having the ability to forgive is so remote it seems impossible. EMDR is a powerful psychotherapy approach that I use that empowers people to effectively deal with their problems in the manner I have just described. It is one of several transformative therapies that are available today and its efficacy is highly evidenced in a number of scientific meta-studies. I desire for you no less than the gift of life-changing transformation so that you can be able to truly mean those words (with a smile on your face) the next time you say them.
All the best,