2010-08-02

Don't Think About It

If you're anything like me, then from time to time you will face some kind of difficult interpersonal problem. Your friends won't understand you, your parents will give you a hard time, or your coworkers will make going to work unpleasant. This is natural. This is normal. This is life. Don't sweat it.

But deal with it.

Recently, in talking about one such of my own problems, I received the following piece of advice: "Don't think about it. Just don't think about it, because you can't change it, so why worry about it? It'll just make you sad." Readers will be happy (or at least not surprised) to know that I rejected this advice immediately (in a nice way). Why?

Stripped down to it's core element, this advice is as follows: Don't think about it because you can't change it.

It seems to be that those who practice this concept have the statement backwards: They can't change their problem because they don't think about it.

Only through thinking, rationalizing, planning, concluding can we ever hope to deal with our problems. No matter how big or how small, the one and only hope anyone ever has in being able to deal with their problems is thinking about them, reaching a conclusion and/or developing a plan, and then acting accordingly.

This is so obvious that I need not prove it. You can also provide your own examples from you own life, rather than listening to mine. Think of any tough problem that you have actually solved, and then re-trace your steps. Did you solve the problem by simply not thinking about it, or did you solve it by figuring it out somehow?

Granted, some problems are difficult to the point that we may not have the time or energy to solve them. In that case, our solution may be changing something about our lives that enables us to at least avoid placing ourselves in situations where we may regularly face a problem we can't solve. But that, too, is an action reached by consideration. There is no escaping it; thought is our only way to approach problems.

The person who does not think about their problems is the person who drinks them away (or worse), the person who regularly ignores others' bad behavior and lets themselves be taken advantage of, or the blind and hapless fool.

All problems require some thought, so please think about it.