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Making Sense of Your Problems and Pain

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Is there a point to the problems we face every day? We fix one only to be confronted with a new one… or two or a dozen! What the h*ll is the point? I found an answer.

If you sometimes feel like life just keeps presenting one problem after another, you’re not alone. You fix one and it just gets replaced with the next one. You don’t have to be too much of a deep-thinker to start concluding that the irony is simply absurd. Especially when anything you learned from managing the problem doesn’t really apply to anything going forward. It’s irony on steroids. So what the h*ll was the point of it? And then, of course, when you extrapolate that to the world in general, absurdity seems to be the only reasonable conclusion.

But what if, instead of concluding that life is absurd or just against us, what if we stop for a minute and consider whether there’s another conclusion that makes sense? What if we just dig a little deeper instead of going with the easy, surface conclusions?

What if the irony IS the point? What if there is a major life lesson in it that we just refuse to even acknowledge, let alone accept, and so we keep striving and keep getting the same results?


What if the irony IS the point?


Many years ago I sat in a room contemplating what seemed like an absurd irony: that the choices I had made in my early adult years had not been the right ones, and I now knew why. But those years and opportunities were gone, could not be undone, so what was the point of learning what I now knew, if it was too late to apply the knowledge? And why does it seem that this is a pattern that repeats itself throughout life?

What's the point of learning the lessons if it's too late to apply them?

That question can be applied to just about every area of our lives. Relationships that failed. Schooling. Parenting - that's a good example. By the time you really figure out what you did wrong and what you did right, your kids are young adults and you can't go back and redo the parenting years and apply the lessons. Too late. So what's the point?

And that's when it hit me. Either life is just absurd and meaningless (which I think is a silly conclusion, but that's another discussion) or - the only other option is that the lesson IS the point. The situations are just the training ground. What it's really about - take note - what life is really about is BECOMING. That is the point.

In one of the schools I worked at, during a staff workshop about developing emotional intelligence in the students, a very powerful statement was posted on the whiteboard:


Who you become in pursuit of the goal has more impact than the goal ever will


Of course we want to achieve our goals. But the irony is that whether we do or don't is not the real point of life. The real point is all about who you become in the process. That's the bit that lasts, that's the bit that has the ongoing impact. Who are you becoming? This is an incredibly freeing discovery. It means that even if you don't quite manage to reach that goal - if you don't end up being the perfect parent, the most successful executive, the brightest student - it's about who you are becoming in the process. It also means that difficulties in our lives - and I'm not saying this is easy, believe me - if we try to look at them as puzzles to solve, as challenges to overcome, the change of perspective can help not only to take our focus off the pain in the situation, but can help us become. We can turn our focus away from the pain of it and onto the person we can become and celebrate that achievement. Never underestimate the true value of such an achievement. We live in a world that glorifies outward achievements like wealth, power, fame. Why do we do that when we know better? When we know that what are really the most difficult achievements are the inner ones? Why do we applaud and celebrate people who become rich, powerful or famous often at the expense of important values, instead of holding inner achievements as the highest standard? We all know how agonizingly difficult it can be to overcome our inner demons and weaknesses and prevail. How long and difficult that struggle can be. That is what counts, that is what we should celebrate and applaud - who we become. Who are you becoming?

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