When I was a teenager I started to experience REAL problems, meaning, problems with real life consequences., such as health, legal and financial problems. This was placed on top of the usual teen stuff like relationship, friendship, family and school problems. My life felt like it was full of problems and I was not comfortable discussing them with anyone, so I would internalize them and think about them on my own. Unfortunately, I had not developed effective problem solving skills, and I felt powerless in the face of and crushed by my problems.
This led to the problems consuming me, wherein I became melancholy and isolated, and began seeking escape through OCD, substances and relationships, and other such compromising and risky behaviour. I find that within interacting with others with OCD, this mind-set of creating a world crushed by problems was prevalent. And what I noticed within myself, was that so long as I had this ‘bad situation’, all my escapes, including OCD, were easily justifiable.
It ‘made sense’ to me to try to constantly try to get the ‘high’ or the ‘numbing’ effect to take me away from the lows that this way of thinking can really exaggerate. This is where I can see a time in my life where I could have become empowered, became instead the solidification of my self-limiting and problem-oriented way of thinking, doing and being. Despite my exterior presentation, a self-defeating problem-oriented way of thinking was the real truth of me.
Into my young -adult life, my problems (my bills, my debt, my relationship issues, the effects of OCD, not being able to keep a job, not knowing what I am going to do with my life, difficulty making friends, my messy house, my lack of discipline to do basic things, the poor quality of food, the problems in the world etc etc etc) had become my comfort. Self-pity and helplessness became safe, familiar places where I never really had to face who and how I had become.
I can see now, looking back, that despite hating the life I had created and wanting change, I was actually getting something I liked out of obsessing about my problems. It was comfortable, familiar, and I always had an excuse handy for why I just can’t change. Changing was scary and difficult, terrifying and uncomfortable. Pushing myself to really change was totally outside of the comfort zone I had created for myself in my life.
Thinking about my problems would create an emotional experience in me, chemically induced in my brain, a chemical pattern I could dose myself with daily, thus creating a kind of addiction to a way of thinking. What I also noticed was that with pushing myself to break out of the internal isolation and open up more to people in my world, this problem oriented thinking would come again out in moments of vulnerability. I would speak about my problems in order to seek support to change, but what I found was, the more others would try to help and push me, the more I felt defensive and would argue or make excuses and justifications for myself. This is what can be called ‘arguing for my limitations’.
This is a pretty tricky cycle, because I would remain isolated and try to figure out solutions alone with myself, there was no one to be accountable to. I realized I had not developed a sense of self-accountability, and it was easy to get away with not really seeing things through when they got tough. But then, when I would seek support outside myself, I would argue for my limitations out of fear of really having to go for it for real, because now there was someone that could call me out when I produced no visible evidence of having walked any kind of change. Looking back, I can see these were signs that I was still holding on to a problem-oriented mindset.
This mindset explains some of the friction and conflict within me as I physically did the things I set out to do. I had not yet fully aligned my way of thinking with my actions in the physical world. It was time for not only the external change of ‘doing’, but also to look at the internal, seeing my mind and how it functions within me. I saw that it was time to step outside my comfort-zone and become solution-oriented.
So I began to venture into the scary unknown of really looking at solutions for real. Really walking my change and stopping myself when I would start to make excuses such as stating what the problems are and why I cannot move on a certain point. I am still working on this, as it will take some time to fully develop and strengthen to become quality that is substantiated and evident in my life and living. But even over a small period of months, I have noticed the friction dissipate, the conflict drop, and cool and clear interactions with others start to come through.
It’s cool when relationships and interactions with others are not used by one’s mind to perpetuate the comfort zone by arguing for one’s limitations. Without awareness, you can end up resenting and blaming others in your life for showing you the limits of your comfort zone due to the reactions it causes. When it was pointed out to me where I still tend to speak from this problem oriented mindset, I experienced resistance towards hearing it, but often times, when what is seen and spoken by another that causes a reaction (defensive, hurt or resistant), it means that there is a truth to it that self does not want to look at or see.
Being solution oriented, for me, was not this wonderful, positive experience. It was scary, raw, and humbling. It exposed my vulnerabilities, and it showed me where I was still weak or underdeveloped. But when I could actually listen to another and see through my reactions, I was able to plant a seed of change within myself.
I have had to nurture and grow this seed through some painful moments, but ever since I have been making this self-directed effort, I have made more progress than in the past in terms of getting things in my life together and get them moving. Moving through the problems and finding gifts of self-development and expansion all along the way. There is still a long way to go, but with progress, the journey is a little more enjoyable, cool things start to develop, and life beyond the comfort zone becomes a place of abundance and opportunities to grow.
It’s interesting that as the problems melt away, and solutions and forward motion begin the manifest, there remains very little reason or justification to OCD. I see this as a serious step towards healing self and managing this disorder, because it diffuses and disarms it. It leaves one wondering, what is the point?
See my video about a real-time situation where I was able to change the outcome through applying this understanding: Dermatillomania and the Problem-Oriented Mindset.