Problems grow like trees. Apologies – there are no problems, only challenges. 😉 Usually, we become aware of challenges too late, when we taste their sour fruits. Getting back to the roots of challenges can be a tedious affair. To make things easier, visualize a challenge as a tree.
How to do that properly? Use a piece of ancient psychology, the Tree of Knowledge mentioned in Genesis 2.17. The Tree of Knowledge is not an ordinary tree, it’s a glyph, a psychological model if you so will. It comes in many variations. Here is a simplified version:
We lack the space to explain the entire Tree of Knowledge, especially the upper parts. It would require to venture into spiritual subjects. Let’s just use this model as a big picture for this post.
Mind that the Tree of Knowledge is upside down. The root is on top (divine intention) and the fruit at the bottom (the result of action). Important for this post are the six spheres personal intention, desires, intellect, mind & ego, and action & results.
This is how the Tree of Knowledge correlates to an ordinary tree:
- Roots: personal intention
- Trunk: imagination
- Branches: desires
- Twigs: thoughts (intellect)
- Fruit: results of our actions
In Eastern religions the fruit is known as karma. Karma has nothing to do with morality. It simply means what goes around, comes around. In Christianity karma is known by the saying, You reap as you sow.
If a challenge overwhelms, sketch it down as a tree. Let’s take an example. If the challenge is that you’re frequently quarreling with your husband, list an issue that is subject to arguing (you may have to sketch one tree per issue). This could be an argument about your frequent girl’s-night-outs. Mind that this issue, the fruit, has two sides: your perspective and that of your darling.
First, understand from which ideas (twigs) the issue hangs from. Generalize the issue. In our example, the argument grows out of a conflicts of interest: how much time should you spend with your BBF and how much with your hubby. Mind that conflicts of interest can never be resolved, only balanced and negotiated.
Second, understand which branches (emotions) are holding the twigs in place. In this case it could be jealousy, insecurity, or some other emotion. Your husband may think that your BBF are more important to you than he or he may be suspicious that you have a boyfriend. Don’t ignore, ridicule, or fight your husband’s emotions. Emotions come and go as they please. We can’t control our emotional tides, we can only refuse to act on them. There is a world of difference between thinking of cheating and doing it.
On a side note: anger isn’t an emotion, it’s the eruption of an emotion. You can read a DI post about anger management here.
Third, get to the bottom of your husband’s desires. What creates desires? Fantasy and experiences. Every man imagines his wife to be a certain way and usually he chooses a woman that gets closest to his ideal. Unfortunately or rather naturally, you can’t conform to all his expectations. Worse: he probably hasn’t elaborated his ideal. The discrepancy between his idealism and your reality is a constant source of tension. Of course, this is also true for the other way around.
Our imagination let’s us fall in love with someone and that’s why it is said that love makes blind. But actually, this is not love, it is infatuation. Love, on the other hand, opens eyes. Usually, it takes years until we learn to know and accept our partner as he is. That’s why love comes later, when we are deep into the marriage, when infatuation has withered and we stood some tests and trials with our partner in life. Of course, infatuation can also give in to hate if the disappointment is too grave.
What about experiences? Experiences give rise to desires too, incidentally positive and negative desires. What are negative desires? Negative desires or negative expectations are rooted in adverse experiences, in particularly those that took place in our childhood. For example, if a girl grew up watching her father abusing her mother, she will – subconsciously – expect the same behavior from her husband, even if she consciously longs for a gentle and loving mate. Usually, subconscious-negative expectations are more effective than conscious ones, since they can do their work in secret. Every psychologist bears witness to that. And that’s the reason why some women continue to end up in abusive relationships, however much they wish and imagine the opposite. And this brings us back to the subject at hand. You may need to sketch two trees: a tree with a trunk that grew from a fantasy or ideal and one that grew from a negative subconscious expectation.
Fourth, understand your intentions that stimulate dreams and imagination. Intentions are objectless, like the intention to be a loyal partner. Mind that intentions are always good-willed. No woman ever intends to be a bitch. Some may wish (subconsciously) to become one – for various reasons – but that wish forms on the level of desires. The earliest point in time something can go wrong is when we imagine something. Having said this, it is important that you are clear about your intentions. In fact it would do well if you note them down in a sentence or two and visualize them positively.
Once you went through the exercise of illustrating a problem tree, you will be able to tell much earlier when things are about to go wrong. You won’t wait until issues manifest, but remedy them early on, when they turn into desires or ideas. This can save you tremendous time and pain. Karma always means learning the hard way, the trick is to fix karma before it manifests as an action or result. For example, if you see that a guy bears negative vibes (negative desires and expectations), you can be almost certain that he means trouble, however rich or handsome he may be.
If you work in a human resource department, don’t just test a persons intelligence, knowledge, and skill. Make sure to check his emotional intelligence and ability to imagine positively as well. A person with murky desires will inevitably use his skills and knowledge for selfish ends, despite procedures, protocols, and company rules.
Remember that after the 2007-08 economy crisis the US government bailed out some companies? During the negotiations, the government put a requirement on the table. Companies should severely cut the incentives of executives. The counter argument: those ‘top managers’ would be hijacked by other countries and the US would lose its best talents. The requirement was dropped, but this was an unwise decision to say the least. The government’s counter argument should have been: “We don’t mind if these guys will screw up the economies of other countries.” Of course I’m kidding about screwing up other countries economies, but you get the point. Intelligence can be bad, really bad.
In closing: if you still can’t manage a challenge, you may have forgotten to check if it is really one. Ask yourself whether your issue is a challenge or a fact. If someone calls a genetic defect a problem, he is wrong, because genes can’t be changed, for now at least. Instead, he needs to adapt his lifestyle to his genetic facts. But if someone believes that an imminent heart attack caused by an unhealthy lifestyle is a fact, he is wrong too. He turns a fact into an excuse not to do something about it.
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