Obsessive Problem Solving
“We have been battered by modern times into obsessive problem solvers, but as life pares us down into only what is essential, it becomes clear that the deepest sufferings of heart and spirit cannot be solved, only witnessed and held.”
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening)
I don't know about you, but I am an obsessive problem solver. If someone tells me a problem they're having, I immediately start spouting solutions. It's quite maddening to me, as well as to them. Nepo calls this our “reflex to solve, rescue and fix.” Sometimes, actually most of the time, the only thing the other person wants is for us to listen, witness their struggle, and hold a safe container for them to solve the problem themselves. If, like me, you've been brought up to be a co-dependent problem solver, this is a life or death issue for you.
Consider, for example, the energy requirement. If I have one-hundred lines of energy coming into me, and I spend fifty of those trying to solve a problem that isn't mine to solve (or to rescue, or fix another person), then half my energy compliment is not available to power my own body/mind. Instead, it's gushing out of me toward everyone else in my circle of friends and family. This is why so many compulsive care-givers, thirty per cent in fact, die before the one who is on the receiving end of their ministrations.
It is, however, important for us to witness and hold; far more important than it is to fix and solve. In truth, we are complicit in the lack of healing in others when we rush to fix their problems, or rescue them with our improvised solutions. If we can learn to simply hold the space, and keep our solutions to ourselves, they will follow the path that is set for them. It may not be the path we would choose for them, of course, but this is their life journey and not our own. These are difficult lessons to learn. They require repeated opportunities for retraining until we get it right. Life itself with provide those opportunities. I guarantee it.
In the Spirit,