I am said to be generally unflustered when things happen to me. Just recently someone ran into my car and damaged it so badly that it had to be towed. Luckily for me, a friend was with me and helped me sort out things both with the driver that towed the car. More importantly with the area boys that arrived from nowhere surrounding us and throwing all sorts of unsolicited advice at us whilst looking for opportunities to take advantage of us and the situation. When things had calmed down significantly, she looked at me and stated “Tara you are so calm, you were not frazzled at all and didn’t seem to be overwhelmed in any way, you took the right decisions at the right moment”
I was surprised at her observation and compliments and my answer to her was the same answer that I had years ago., when Mr Aisi drove home with one hand whilst his other arm was bleeding, due to a stray bullet that had bruised a main artery when he was running away from an armed robbery attack. It was the same answer I gave when I looked at his test results and discovered that what we thought was pain due to a slipped disc was as a result of cancer that had metastasized. It was the same answer I had when I walked into an empty house devoid of life or my children who I had left at home on the 27th day of January, 2001 following the bomb blast at the army Cantoment which was just adjacent to my house.
My answer was “When things happen, the first question I ask is, what the solution to what has happened is? I never ask, nor do I concern myself with the questions why me, why did this happen, what’s wrong with me and who is to blame?
I have learnt from those who ask the questions, that most times the only answer to those questions are from Life itself which asks us “why not you?”
It is very easy to forget especially in bad times the true but humbling realization that the adage “there is nothing new under the sun” is true. As much as we hate to admit it, our conditions are not unique. People have gone through and will go through what we have gone through or are going through.
The answer to “What is wrong with me” often leads us down the rabbit hole of self-pity and self-recriminations whilst “Who is to blame?” makes us neglect a search for the solution, to chase shadows leaving the problem to further deteriorate. Did someone say Nigeria?
Although most times we ask those questions in the negative it is possible to ask them in a positive way. Why me? For instance could help us acknowledge the talents, skills, opportunities, connections etc that the situation helps uncover in our lives. What is wrong with me? Could help us see how unconsciously we are contributors to the things that have come our way and who is to blame can help us identify the causes of the problem and apportion blame appropriately.
Carl Jung: “The right question is already half the solution to a problem.”
Today’s world is hectic to say the least. On a daily basis we are inundated with bad news be it on a personal, national or global level. In the course of our rumination upon the events around us there is the tendency to ask questions in a bid to have answers however, the questions we ask and how we ask those questions, will determine the answers that we get.
As Deepak Chopra rightly said, “The level of the solution is never found at the level of the problem. Knowing this, you can escape many traps that people fall into. What exists at the level of the problem? Repetitive thinking that gets nowhere. Old conditioning that keeps applying yesterday’s outworn choices. Lots of obsessive thinking and stalled action”
Questions such as- am I equipped to fix this problem? Sometimes our main role in problem solving is that of a first responder. A first responder is the medic who first appears on the accident scene. He is mostly equipped just for emergencies and to ensure that the victim is stabilized within the crucial minutes after an incident. The first responder does not treat the causes of the wound, he at best stems the flow of blood and transfers the victim to someone who is better trained and equipped to treat the patient. So many of us are first responders who want to take the place of the doctor unaware that our job is solely to provide stability until the experts can take over.
Questions such as -who can help me?.The ability to know when and how to ask for help is very critical in solving problems because at times our best intentions leave the problem worse off . A lot of times we don’t ask for help either because we don’t know how to or because we are too proud to ask for or receive help. The truth is that we do not have all the knowledge we need to help ourselves and asking for help especially from someone who has walked our path is invaluable in inspiring solutions to our problems.
Questions such as- how can I live with the situation as it is? The truth is that some problems cannot be solved either because of the people involved or the situation itself. At times we will find especially in marriage that it is better and more rewarding for us to adapt rather than attempt to change our spouse. In this case we choose our priorities and battles focusing on what we can control rather than on those things we can do nothing about.
Questions such as- do I need to walk away? The ability to know when to walk away is one of the hardest things to do. Most times we think we can adapt to a situation and we actually do for a while especially if like a friend once told me we feel we can live with the devil himself. However, eventually we find out that as we grow older we become weary of adapting and want to take a chance at life especially if the situation has taken its toll on our emotions in that one day we are hopeful and the next day we are frustrated and disappointed. In asking if the right solution to the problem is to walk away especially when it comes to an unfulfilling relationship we must first of all have made attempts to finding a solution and committing to it, thereafter we must be satisfied within ourselves that we have done all that is expected of us and only then can we call it quits.
Sola Mabogunje: “Questions are the tools by which we draw inspiration.
The Questions we ask of ourselves and life will influence the choices we will make. It’s time to start asking ourselves the right questions as we plan towards a New Year, for only then will we get the right answers needed to navigate the times we are in.