Virginia Satir, the pioneer of family therapy and human systems, said:
“The problem isn’t the problem; coping is.”
Ponder this for a moment:
Today, the ‘problem’ that you have, or see, or is brought to you, isn’t a problem at all.
It’s simply a situation, or some facts, or a pattern. There’s no naughty or nice.
But if it is not the problem, what is?
The problem is our coping response.
Imagine the next time you’re outside, someone throws a ball at your head at 100 MPH. What would your coping response be?
Personally, my coping response would probably be to scream and drop to the ground!
But people who play tennis or baseball have learned a different coping response. They’ve learned to keep their cool, and hit the ball with a racket or bat.
Having a ball whizzing at your head is not the problem – how we respond to it is.
Once we realize that, we can start to debug our coping response.
Questions to debug your coping response:
- How do you feel about the situation?
- What past situation does that feeling remind you of?
- How is this situation different?
- Can you name the coping response you see?
- What new coping responses are available to you?
- What might be a better fit for this situation?
How this helps leaders
Today you’ll be blindsided by something stressful – guaranteed.
You can choose to view it as a “problem” – which leaves you victimized by it.
Or, you can view it as a “situation” that you must to cope with, and look at your own coping response. If your coping response isn’t working for you, you can work to change it.
Do you see someone who’s struggling to cope with situations in their world? If so, pass this along to them.