Every one of us has problems bigger or smaller. An interesting thing about “problem” is everyone thinks that his/her problem is the biggest one. For example, a person admitted to an orthopedic surgical ward with an ankle injured sees his problem bigger than a person who has injured his knee. We as an observer can see that problem is bigger for the person who injured his knee because he can’t move his leg and one side of his body would be paralyzed due to it. Whereas, the person on the next bed wouldn’t be able to recognize this thing because he would be so totally involved with his own sufferings. This will make him unable to see what is going around his surroundings.
We get entangled into problems on a daily basis and the problems increase when we don’t know the reason behind our problem. Most of us don’t get things solved because we are not consciously aware of what causes the problem. If we want to overcome our problems we need to understand the dynamics which exaggerate our problems. Here we discuss the factors which help your problems to get settled inside you.
When a person denies the existence of a problem, how can he/she find any solution for the problem? Beware this denial is an unconscious process which drives a person to reduce his anxieties and thus, throws threatening facts into the unconscious to get safer on the surface level. The problem with denial lies in the fact that it actually doesn’t reduce anxiety but results in the form of psychological disturbance. For example, a girl who is a survivor of a rape may deny the fact but her unconscious processes would result in psychosis. Similarly, a woman who denies the existence of breast cancer would never seek help or even she wouldn’t go for a check-up and this would ultimately drive into last-stage where a tumour gets untreatable. These days we can observe many such cases who get examined at last stages of cancer. These people actually deny the warning signs of illness because it is threatening for a person to get such a terminal illness. Another example we must hear about smoking is that smokers deny the fact they can have cancer while watching or hearing many smokers dying of throat or lung cancer.
2. Wrong initial assumptions / false beliefs:
Another thing which doesn’t help in the solution of problems is; we make initial assumptions regarding things. For example, anyone of us can assume that he must not be betrayed, must not experience any corruption or must be dealt with respect. These initial assumptions will hurt the person whenever he suffers any experience of dishonesty or disrespect. Because the person has high expectations from people, he will be hurt on even minor immoral experiences, which every one of us experiences on a daily basis. This is the reason why keeping expectations from people or having high standards for yourself or others don’t always work.
Here I explain a scenario to get you a better understanding of how false initial assumptions work. A successful business woman gets attacked by conspirers and has a lawsuit on her. She gets deeply hurt by this fact because she had done nothing wrong and she had a belief that others should treat her with loyalty since she is loyal to everyone. While keeping this expectation, she became depressed and nothing worked out for her. When she consulted her psychologist and she was suggested to work on her initial assumptions. She developed more healthy beliefs e.g., every successful person gets hurdles and challenges in his/ her way to victory, and since she is a popular business woman, this is a challenge for her to face and overcome. After realizing the fact, she not only started working to overcome the lawsuits, but she learned more and more about the similar cases, gathered every useful info, presented herself in front of judges and then defeated her enemies who tried to let her down in the business world.
When fear is at a normal level, it can be helpful and work as a survival instinct e.g., if you see a snake creeping towards you, you must be fearful and then run away to find a safer place. This is a normal response but, if you are fearful enough that you can’t move from the place, your legs get paralyzed and you feel numb, this is the excessive level of fear which will not work for you to overcome the problem.
Imagine a scenario where a flight pilot gets emergency situation while far up in clouds; the engine stops working properly. Think about the possible solutions. If the pilot should freeze and do nothing in this situation because the ultimate is death? Should he deny the fact because it is too threatening? Should he make initial assumptions that this crisis is unlikely because he is an excellent pilot and has never been to such situation ever? Will such kind of solutions work? You are right! Nothing like this is a workable solution. Then what you suggest that pilot should think about? The pilot should realize the emergency case and keep confidence in his ability to handle the emergency. Now he got the right one. He will take a step to contact his flight station, consult with supervisor and take necessary precautions to protect the survival.
4. Deceptive masking:
Everyone wants to present himself in an acceptable way in order to get approval from others. This is actually right but when you hide your problems from others particularly the right ones, this is the case which worsens your problems. For instance, if you have a sexual problem and you feel shy to tell your doctor just because he/ she will think you are bad. When you don’t reveal your actual problem, is it possible that doctor will be able to suggest you an appropriate treatment? No way! When you don’t get treatment for your problems than it is inevitable that your problems will increase in intensity and then you will become helpless. When it will be observable to others they may take you to doctor but this will be quite late and you will miss an opportunity to get treated at an initial stage.
Similarly, if you are suffering from a headache and you instantly get a knock from a guest. You greet the guest who observes you being unfit and asks about your health. You reply that you are perfectly all right. You don’t want to tell the guest about your headache because she will not like it. You try to be polite with your guest but your gestures show unpleasant feeling. What will the guest think about this scenario? She might think that you don’t like her arrival or you are uncomfortable talking to her or anything else, but she can’t reach to the right guess until you tell about your actual feelings. She might become doubtful at you and may not like to meet you again. Thus, deceptive masking prevents you to get the right treatment you deserve from others. If you show your real feelings and the need for help, others will definitely offer you comfort at their best level.
5. Behavioural choices:
Sometimes our choice of behavior leads us to problematic situations. For example, everyone knows that aggression is destructive and it always leads to negative consequence either for yourself or for others. But still, we get into arguments and choose aggression as it will help us solve the problem. If you review your experiences of aggression and try to find out how many times it helped you to get things right in the long run? You will definitely reach to the conclusion that it always get you into a disadvantage. For example, if a mother being aggressive on a child gets short-term results from the child such as he acts obediently and gets his homework done because of fear of punishment. Mother thinks that this was beneficial therefore repeatedly uses aggression as a strategy to discipline her child. Do you know how this affects the long-term relationship of mother-child? The child will get distant from his mother, he will never share his feelings and might remain fearful from parents for the rest of his life. Is it beneficial in the long run? Now you can clearly understand how our choice of behavior mistakenly leads many of us to choose unhealthy relationships. If we chose behavior which actually works for healthy relationships, we will never get into relationship problems. If you learn communication skills, talk assertively but not aggressively, deal problems through effective decision making, and use problem-solving in your life, many of your daily hassles will get settled at very initial level instead of piling up inside you and then bursting out in the form of psychological problems.
If you find any of these problems affecting your life and thus your problems are increasing day by day instead of getting solved, then you just talk to your psychologist about these issues. You will be guided about handling denial, false beliefs, fear, deceptive masking, and wrong behavioral choices.
Mehwish Mursaleen (Ph.D. Clinical Psychology)
Online Psychotherapist (Consult-a-psychologist.com & iCliniq.com)