Life can often feel like the arcade game, Whack-a-Mole. A problem shows up, we whack it and then wait for the next one to show up so we can whack it before the next one shows up so we can… whack it!
This is a game that cannot be won. But it’s the game most of us play most of the time. We read books to learn new whacking strategies. We try various methods of mole extermination. We join self-help groups to support one another around our mole problems. And when a friend shows up with a mole problem, we give them advice on how to whack the problem.
Sure, it’s fun. But there is another game to play. Most “problems” are results that we have created with our beliefs, thoughts, judgments, and interpretations. A circumstance or result is problematic when it is not the result that we want or when the circumstance causes us to suffer or to feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
By working to expose and shift those beliefs, thoughts, judgments, and interpretations, problems can become opportunities to transform our experience of life. The good news is that we create most of our own problems. This is good news because we don’t have much control over anything outside of ourselves. If it’s true that others create our problems, life is an endless Whack-a-Mole game. And if we only know how to deal with, compensate for and solve problems, we only have value if we have problems to solve.
For example, if you have experienced failure in relationships all of your life, you know how to deal with failed relationships. You know what to do about it. How to avoid it. How to overcome it, how to compensate for it, how to hide from it, how to deal with the logic, understanding, justification, excuses, and reasons for failing. If there were a “relationship failure” toolbox, you would be a certified Failed Relationship Expert. Hows that for a new designation? You would be very familiar with every tool in that toolbox. You will have become very identified with failure. With all of these tools, you need to experience failure to feel competent. Without failure, you are bored. All tooled up without a project.
If you have failed a lot, you may not know what to do with success. If you are challenged with the possibility of success you might go to your toolbox and notice that there are no success tools in there. You haven’t ever needed them. Even if you had some success tools in the box, you wouldn’t know how to use them. So you pick up one of the tools that you know how to use and turn that success around, putting you right back on track with what you know how to do.
This is why it is so hard to change, to pull out of the rut. Finding and creating problems to solve is just a habit and habits can be changed. If you are committed to your own success, find a mentor or a coach. Become an apprentice in the endeavor you wish to succeed in. Become teachable, coachable. This will require letting go of those trusty old tools that have gotten you this far but no further.
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