I was recently reminded of a great quote from psychologist Carl Jung, he said, “We don’t solve our problems, we outgrow them.” As I’ve been thinking about this the past few days, I realize how often my attention is actually on solving my problems, instead of outgrowing them. No wonder the ones I obsess about the most seem to linger.
However, we’ve all experienced this outgrowing process many times. Think back to some of the biggest “problems” in your life when you were a child or an adolescent (or even just a few years or months ago) that are no longer issues for you anymore. In most cases, you simply outgrew these things.
We also experience this phenomenon whenever something intense happens in our life – whether it’s something that is intensely “good” or “bad.” Major life experiences will often put things in perspective – giving us an opportunity to stop and re-evaluate many aspects of our lives. Often, upon further reflection, we realize that most of our “problems” are not that big of a deal.
How can we make this process more conscious and deliberate, and not simply happen by accident. It’s important that we shift our focus, as Jung reminds us, from “solving” to “growing.” As we try to “solve” the biggest problems in our lives – related to relationships, career, health, effectiveness, money, awareness, and more – maybe we can stop trying so hard to “fix” these things and look more deeply at the feedback we’re getting and where we can enhance our growth.
Take money, for example. Many people I know, myself included, are especially focused on money these days. And while the economic environment of the past year or so has both created and exposed a number of money “problems” for many of us – personally, organizationally, nationally, and globally – maybe instead of simply trying to solve our money problems, we could look at how to expand our growth as it relates to money, and in a larger sense abundance, worth, peace, and more. The famous quote from Albert Einstein fits perfectly here, “We can’t solve our problems from the level of thinking which created them.”
Here are a few things to think about as you look to deepen your growth and shift away from the obsessive problem solving mode many of us find ourselves in:
– Confront your biggest “problems.” Tell the truth about the biggest issues in your life and look at what you’ve been doing to either avoid or solve them – neither of which will ultimately give you what you want.
– Look for the growth opportunity. With authenticity and compassion, see if you can look beneath your avoidance or even your intended solutions, and look for the beautiful feedback life is giving you right now about where you can grow.
– Reach out for support. Getting support, feedback, and guidance is an essential aspect of our life and growth, especially when we want to change, transform, and grow into new and deeper places. When we’re looking at outgrowing some of the most challenging aspects of our life and transcending certain problems (some of which we may have been dealing with for quite some time), it is fundamentally important we reach out for help from people in our lives – friends, family members, co-workers, counselors, coaches, teachers, and others.
As we do these three things, with a sense of kindness and appreciation towards ourselves, we can expand our growth, which will ultimately lead us to where we want to be in our lives. Remember, there is no specific “destination” we’re after in this process – growth is really about deepening our experience of life and enhancing our capacity for joy, fulfillment, and love.
Where can you expand your own growth right now? How can you take your attention off of “solving” and put it more on “growing” in a way that will make a difference for you? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.