Wikipedia describes the word problem as “an obstacle” or “a hindrance”. To be more precise it is an unplanned and unwanted situation or circumstance that involves difficulty and uncertainty. For example you reach home, fumble for your keys and find them nowhere in sight. You search them again and yet again only to conclude that you did not bother to pick them up from the office drawer. And that’s exactly when you become host to an unwanted visitor called Problem. The problem gains significant dimensions when you realize that you already lost your duplicate keys and it is midnight and the only way you can get in is by breaking your expensive lock or the door. All this adds to the frustration of the victim making him elicit all forms of profanities
Problems come in all flavors varying from health problems like Cancer to social problems like corruption, problems also vary in urgency and criticality like life-death problem of a person in need of blood to minor problem of a headache.
Most of the problems have solution; if they do not have solution they have workarounds. The breaking of lock for example is the workaround of the problem of missing keys. The solution finding is one of the most intellectual cognitive process of a human being and how does a person react to a problem defines his mental makeup or temperament. For some even a minor setback can be overwhelming enough to bring him to knees while some people cruise over the most hideous of the problem as if it were a petty speed breaker. Whether a person visualizes a problem as an opportunity or as an obstacle depends on the sex, age, education, social and genetic background of a person. Like for example the problem of a vehicle breakdown due to tire puncture can be a simple exercise for a 19-year-old boy while the same situation can raise panic alarms in the mind of a 45-year-old lady. To be more specific and illustrative of this entire problem solving process I would take up myself as a subject. Please note I am a 27-year-old female, software Engineer by profession born in a middle-class family and also the eldest child in the family. All these attributes of mine would make a significant contribution in my individual way of handling a problem. From my childhood only I find myself as a social misfit. People around me seemed to be unreasonably happy while I remained sad and frustrated most of the times. As a kid when children of my age played with their toys I used to crib that I do not have enough toys. When my brother was born I harbored the thought my parents are totally neglecting me. Teachers in my school seemed to be loving and pampering all the kids but me.
All I wanted was to draw the attention of my parents and teachers. To do so I used to hurt myself by cutting my finger with blade or jumping from the wall. Although I succeeded in gaining their sympathies but my friends started to desert me. They started making fun of me, mocking at me, calling me names like ‘lame duck’, ‘crying baby’. I became a loner and a victim of self-pity indulging myself in lot of daydreaming. All I dreamt of was how my friends, teachers and parents would miss me when I die or get kidnapped. I immersed myself in studies and always stood first in my class to get the people notice me, but even this did not cure my misery .The only time I felt happy was during the declaration of result, when I was called on stage and everybody clapped and praised me. The problem continued in my college and the whole world seemed hostile to me. A slight provocation from my friend could bring me down to tears. The condition worsened while I was on job and I thought all my colleagues and boss were conspiring against me. I changed jobs, friends, living places only to find the condition getting bad to worst. My parents attributed my perpetual irritation and frustration to my being single and got me married. But my condition only worsened I thought my husband did not like me and married me under the compulsion of his parents. My in-laws seemed like monsters to me whose only motive was to humiliate and embarrass me. I used to curse my parents who just got me married as a measure to get rid of me. The only thing I wanted was to die and unburden this world with my unwanted existence.
While I was surfing the Internet for finding a painless and clean way of killing myself, I came across a website that asked me to write a letter to God describing my present state, enumerating my reasons of unhappiness and also letting Him know how I wanted things to be like. I poured my heart out in the letter, listing all the problems one by one with their respective solutions When I finished there were copious tears in my eyes but my heart was million tons lighter. What lay in front of me was an emotional trash from my past, consisting of scars from disappointments, hidden fears, and deeply burrowed insecurities. It was now time to read it. After reading the letter I observed that although problems differed but all of them had similar or rather same message .The message was clear like sunlight and loud like bell. The problem was with me and within me.
What I thought and believed till now seemed to be faulty. I was under the impression that just like me other people also think before speaking, taking double care not to hurt anyone even by mistake, always minding their actions. Just like I never enter into any conversation and activity unless until I get a personal invitation, other people also are summoned personally. Just like I kept brooding about each and every action that others did others also analyzed and scrutinized every move and conduct of mine.
All these myths shattered like a mirror when the thought dawned upon me that People are different and I am definitely not the object of their daily thoughts. Every action of others is not directed towards me and whatever be the actions but the intentions of the people are not necessarily bad. Instead of others to behave like me I should perhaps be a bit more accommodating about their conduct. I also realized that it was wrong on my part to judge other people based upon their instantaneous actions .By doing all this I had mentally conjured up a image of a very hostile world in which every person was my opponent and I had to defend myself from their attack. It’s now time to break fee of all these mental traps and I have to come out of the confinement and live in an unprejudiced world.
Better late than never, now I am leading a happy life. I laugh with others, crack jokes with them; take part in their happiness and sadness. I now want to cherish and live every moment of life. I am now a more connected person; connected to the world and connected to myself.
After all this introspection I have concluded that the most important step to resolve any kind of problem is to accept and acknowledge its existence. Ignoring the problem just serves to make the problem more complicated. It wastes time and instead of solving the problem you start to live with the problem. John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and reformer says, “A problem is half-solved if well stated” so a clear definition of the problem enables a quick and effective rectification. Thereafter it’s important to identify your own role in creating the problem. A problem does not arise of nowhere and more often or not just an awareness of the problem and understanding of your role in it solves the problem. Subsequently the root cause analysis of the problem should be done. It’s a general observation that a problem is always accompanied by a series of problems. Like in my case in addition to my mental unrest and unhappiness I had also become a problem child then a problem employee and subsequently a problem wife. All the series of problem actually stem from the main or the root of the problem. Actions performed without understanding the underlying message of the problem simply serve to blow more fuel into fire, aggravating the problem further . At this step penning your thoughts comes in handy. You can break down the problem and deal with every part in isolation.
Once all nuances have been critically looked into and all the underlying currents are ironed out, a workable plan should be formulated. At this stage one should be flexible and patient. With a little bit of faith and trust the plan should be executed, and believe me you will come out of this problem like a winner more learned and illuminated. Just like fire strengthens the Gold a problem will make you more stronger and will increase your awareness about yourself.
An afterthought here, Look at each and every problem like an opportunity that will unlock one of your hidden talent .Be bold and brave when faced by problem. Remember heroes have become heroes only by overcoming their problems.“ Don’t think of problems as difficulties. Think of them as opportunities for action” Author Unknown, from “Ten Ways to Worry Less and Accomplish More”
Work Sited List
Http://en.wikipedia.org. 2008. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity.. 23 April 2008
Creativity Manual: Problem Finding. 2005. Dr Hackermann. 24 April 2008
Definitions of problem on the Web. 2008. 24 April 2008
Inspirational Problem Solving Quotes. 2004. 27 April 2008