Can you think about a problem you’re having right now?
It probably doesn’t feel great.
When you have a problem and you’re feeling bad about it, the best thing for you to do is separate out the facts from your thoughts about the facts.
Facts are neutral. They’re circumstances. They’re neither good nor bad.
It’s when you have a thought about a circumstance that it becomes good or bad.
This is where problems are created.
You create your own problems by having thoughts about neutral circumstances.
This doesn’t mean you should stop.
You probably want to have some problems.
When someone you love lies to you, I bet you want to make that mean you’re disappointed. And I bet you want to feel sad about that.
The point is not to eliminate all your problems.
The point is to recognize that you’re the one responsible for creating your problems.
When you understand this, you get your power back.
Then, you can decide how you want to solve your problems.
I did this with my student loan debt.
I used to think it was happening to me .
When I started believing it was happening for me, everything changed.
I turned my six figure debt into a six figure online business.
I changed the story I was telling myself.
I took my power back so I could create a solution.
Whatever your problem, you can do this, too.
I don’t have any doubts about it.
You have what it takes to solve that problem.
It’s within you.
Listen to this episode to hear how you can solve any problem you’re having.
Here are more of my favorite resources for how to solve any problem:
- How To Solve Any Problem (blog post)
- When It’s Hard And Problems Are Forever (podcast)
- Conquering Anxiety Free Course (free training)
- Grow You (coaching)
Full Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.
Hey, I am so excited that you’re here with me today. I cannot wait to dive into today’s topic, how to solve any problem. Before I do, I just want to say thank you for all of your emails recently about the podcast and if you haven’t listened to the episode When It’s Hard And Problems Are Forever, go listen to that. Y’all are going through it.
I have gotten so many emails about that episode and I just want to say that if you’re kind of going through something right now, just remember that like it’s okay. You’re going to be all right. You really are and nothing has gone wrong. You know in the past that for every down there is a corresponding up and that you will work through it. Nothing has gone wrong. Problems are forever and that is why you should pursue your goals anyways, not because you think that you’re going to be happier.
You are as happy now as you ever will be. Hopefully that’s good news. If not, we have some work to do. Right? We all do. Um, but no, seriously, in today’s episode, I want to share with you how to solve any problem. And I know this sounds crazy, it’s such a bold statement, right? How to solve any problem like really any. And yes, the answer is any problem.
I recently became a certified life coach and I’ve done a ton of personal development work. I don’t know if you know this, but I also have a minor in philosophy. I love learning and thinking and mental models and problem solving and um, even being a lawyer, I used a lot of that. So all that is to say I have done my research and I found that the most useful way to think about the world and the, uh, problems in it are through what’s called the self coaching model that Brooke Castillo put into a framework that you can use.
She did not invent the components of the model, but she put it into this framework that is the most useful that I’ve seen. So, for example, if you read any personal development books, you will see the same models. You will see the same components, but you won’t see it explained in this way. Like I can think of the book. You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero off the top of my head where she talks a lot about the same components. That’s just one example.
But you know Byron Katie, there’s so many people and Tony Robbins. The reason is is because this is just like the way the world works. It’s not really an opinion, it’s just facts, okay? But she created this model that you can use to solve any problem in a way that is so simple and so brilliant that you can read all the self help books you want, but until you have a way to apply it to your life, it kind of becomes this thing where you’re trying to like stay motivated all the time instead having a tool to apply.
So the model works like this. It’s your thoughts, create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, your actions create your results and circumstances are neutral. So what you can do is you can put on a piece of paper, a C at the top and that’s the circumstance line. And then below that you can put T, F, A,R, kay circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, results. And what you do is you fill in the model with each of these lines and you identify the problem and then you can see how your thoughts are creating the problem.
This is the secret, okay? Your thoughts are creating the problem and how do we know this? Because circumstances are actually neutral and your thoughts are what create your feelings. Your feelings are what create your actions and your actions are what create your results. I was recently listening to a podcast and someone was talking about how when she was pregnant with her fourth child, people in her community and she’s Mormon, didn’t think anything about that.
But when she would go into the city, people would kind of make rude comments in her opinion. Um, because they were so shocked that it was her fourth. Okay. Being pregnant with a fourth baby is a circumstance that’s neutral. What someone makes it mean is about them. That’s their thought about it, right? So that’s just an example.
You can apply this to anything in your life. What happens is that we tend to think that our circumstances are the problem. So what’s really, really useful for you to do here is whenever you’re having a problem, the first thing is to like separate out the facts from your thoughts about the facts. And the way you do this is literally you just do like a brain dump or like a journal and you just write for like 10 minutes about the problem without stopping. Like don’t pick up your pen, just write, write, write, write or type whatever, 10 minutes, however long it takes and then stop.
And then below that write out all the facts and then on another page or like on the other side, write out all of your thoughts and you will be amazed that like your thoughts are what’s creating the problem. An example would be like maybe your sister said something to you and you think she is just so rude and you literally could get a hundred out of a hundred people to agree with you.
Maybe she said that your shirt looked terrible and she said it publicly in front of the people who you work for. So you think that your sister was rude and everyone would agree with you. Your sister was rude, is a thought. It is not a fact. Now, whatever she said to you is the fact. So my sister said my shirt looked terrible. If those were her exact words, then that’s the fact. Now, whatever you make that mean is your thought.
So my sister was rude, is the thought. Okay? And the way that you can really test this out is you can apply the same statement to like a different person. So let’s just say some random person is walking by and yells out, your shirt looks terrible and just like keeps walking. You probably are not going to give it the same meaning as if your sister or someone you love or close to you says that to you. Right?
And what’s the difference? Okay? It’s what you’re making. What they say mean. So you’re creating a problem and you might want to create a problem, okay? So knowing that your thoughts are what create your problems doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create problems. Right? Like you’re human and you probably want to have some problems. And this is kind of funny cause we all think like we’re supposed to not have problems and that life is just supposed to be happy all the time.
And that is not true at all, right? You probably want to be sad or disappointed or make it mean that someone was rude when they say something to you and like you love them and you want to interpret it as rude and so you feel sad about it. Or like your feelings are hurt. The key here and the whole point of this is for you to notice that you have control so you have control over what is a problem and what isn’t.
Because you are giving something meaning. So this is all about like emotional responsibility. It’s about taking your power back and making things mean whatever you want. It’s not about getting rid of your problems, it’s about owning the fact that you’re creating your problems. You have choices as to the gravity of the problems you have based on what you’re thinking. Okay?
So most of us just don’t even own that we create the problem and this is a problem because if the problem is outside of you, you can’t solve it, okay? That is the key. All right? When you understand that you create the problem based on what you’re making something mean, then you can solve the problem.
I want to give you the example of my student loan debt. So when I first discovered my student loan debt or became like really aware of it, I was kind of in this like victim mode where the problem was outside of me. Like how did this happen? I felt like I did everything right and my massive student loan debt of $206,000 was a huge problem. That was not my fault. And I really felt like it was happening to me. Right? I see this all the time when I was a financial planner and I would talk with a lot of our clients, children who had massive student loan debt.
Like I can tell you in the three years I was there, I never had one person come in and say like, I want to know how I can pay this off as quick as possible. It was always the problem is outside of them, someone else did this to them. The system is messed up. They, um, want to know how to get out of the debt in a way that like they don’t have to do it themselves. Someone else should pay for it. Like it was always outside of you.
So when the problem is outside of you and someone else caused the problem, you cannot solve it. When I switched my thinking to believing that my student loan debt was happening for me and create an opportunity for me to start a business and an online business and a blog and turn it into my career, everything changed, right?
So I start to look at problems now as something that is like a good story. I’ll be like, okay, well this is going to make a good story. Uh, like my student loan debt, right? I use it as part of my story. Nothing in my life changed except the story I was telling about my student loan debt. It is the best gift I have ever been given because I turned it into this business.
So if you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I listened to hardcore gangster rap when I work and I have friends who know this, who also listen to gangster rap. I don’t know if it’s a Cleveland thing or what, but I’m into it. And in one of my group chats, one of my guy friends that sent me some Gucci Mane lyrics and he was uh, comparing this Gucci Mane line to how I make things happen.
The lyrics are, “you get the bag and fumble it. I get the bag and flip it and tumble it”. And what this means is that, okay, you have this bag. I’m pretty sure he’s talking, I’m talking about drugs, but let us just use it as a metaphor here, right? You get the bag and fumble it right? Like you drop it and don’t make anything happen. I get the same bag and flip it and tumble it and I make things happen, right? It’s the same bag. Okay.
It’s like what you do with it. Okay. So successful people will take the bag, they will take the situation, whatever it is, it’s a neutral circumstance and they will turn it into something amazing. They will create a story that supports them instead of a story that AIDS in their demise basically. So you can take your student loan debt and make it mean that you have a huge problem that you can’t solve and you can’t make money and you can’t move out of state and you can’t have the job that you want and you can’t, you know, get married or buy the house or whatever.
Or you can take the student loan debt and turn it into an opportunity and you have to figure out what that opportunity is. But you can go listen to the Questions podcast. You can do lots of different things, but it’s your responsibility, right? The circumstances neutral. It’s all what you make it mean.
And the amazing part of this is like you’re making up a story no matter what. So it’s, it’s like common that people will be like, well that’s like delusional, right? Like you can’t really argue that $206,000 student loan debt is a good thing. I’m like well yeah you can cause I did it and look how it turned out. Six figure business going to be seven figure business. Like I have the best career I know like and I did this and it’s because of the story I made up, right? People are always going to make up a story no matter what.
So you’re already delusional, right? So you might as well make up the story that supports you, right? Like whatever you make up about the circumstance is going to create your reality. Now be careful here because when you do this with a problem and you just start saying things that you don’t believe it doesn’t work. And what I mean by that is like a lot of times people will talk about affirmations.
So let’s say that the student loan debt example, let’s say you have a bunch of student loan debt and you want it to mean that you have an opportunity but you don’t actually believe it. And you just start saying things like, my student loan debt is an opportunity, but you don’t feel it. It doesn’t create confidence. It doesn’t create an abundant emotion that enables you to take action from a positive place. Then it won’t create the results that you’re looking for.
It will only be your thoughts. So your thoughts and feelings kind of have to be aligned. And you’ll know they’re aligned if you actually believe it, cause it’ll create that abundant emotion. So it’s your thoughts that have the control, but they’re not just reciting sentences where they’re affirmations, they’re actual thoughts that you have to make sure you’re believing.
So if you can’t get to a place where you believe like my student loan debt is an opportunity, you can create a bridge thought like a thought in between my student loan debt is the worst thing that’s ever happened and it’s someone else’s fault and my student loan debt is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Like there’s, there’s many thoughts in there that you can come up with that can be bridged thoughts in between that move you from this negative scarcity way of thinking and this problem to a more neutral place.
So if you’re in a really negative space about a problem that you don’t want to be a problem where you want to solve, your goal should be to come up with a thought that you believe that moves you to a less negative space and into a more neutral space. So examples for the student loan debt, one would be like coming up with the thought, my student loan debt hasn’t been useful so far, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be in the future.
Or Natalie turned her student loan debt into an opportunity. So it’s possible that I could do the same if I keep thinking about it or asking the question over and over again like what does my student loan debt make possible or how is this happening for me? Anything that you can say that you actually believe that reframes the circumstance and reframes your problem into a more supportive, useful way of thinking about it is going to help you solve your problem.
Also notice that when you have a problem, you may tend to focus on the problem at nauseum instead of focusing on the solution. I am guilty of this too. It’s like we have a problem and then we want to talk about the problem with everyone. Like you know this, right? It’s like I want to call every girlfriend I have and talk about the problem over and over and over and all that does is give more energy to the story that I am telling Kay and it is a story.
It is definitely a story giving so much energy to this story over and over and over. It doesn’t solve the problem, right? It just creates more energy around it and moves it into the future. Okay? So notice if you’re doing that, try to stop yourself and just don’t give it any more energy, right? Instead, try to focus on the solution, okay?
Focusing on the problem is a very indulgent, it’s a very ego-driven, it can feel very good even though it can be such a problem in your head, it’s, it is something that we do because it feels good to indulge in our problems. Instead, I want to encourage you to focus on the solution. So ask yourself, what does this mean? Ask yourself so what? Like so what? That this is a problem or so what? That this happened, right? What? What am I making it mean?
I want to remind you that you have control over what you decide to be a problem and what you decide is not a problem. Only you. I know that you think that it matters a lot what other people think, but it doesn’t. Okay? Just between you and me, it doesn’t matter what your best friend thinks. It doesn’t matter what your mom thinks.
It doesn’t matter what your dad thinks or your spouse thinks. It only matters what you think. Okay? And this is actually not selfish at all. This will give you your power back and it will enable you to show up as a whole human so that you can be the best in your relationships and you can show up in the world confident and you can show up and solve your own problems.
This is really, really good news when you own it because it gives you all of your emotional responsibility back and anyone can do whatever they want to you and you get to decide how you want to think about it. You get to decide what you make it mean. I don’t care what has happened to you in the past. You are not a victim. Let me repeat that. I don’t care what has happened to you in the past you are not a victim, okay?
You may have been a victim in a certain circumstance. That situation, that event is over. All you have now are your thoughts about it. I have talked to so many people and coached people who have gone through horrific things. Okay? And it can be two people going through the exact same horrific event to one person. It means very little in their personal life right now and in the future and to the other person, it means everything. Okay?
Same circumstances, same events given totally different meaning you can decide what you want, something to mean about you and about your future. It doesn’t mean that you don’t recognize it was a problem. It doesn’t mean that you don’t recognize it still is a problem. It just means you recognize that you’re in control of making it a problem or not. It’s not someone else’s doing okay?
You have choices as to the gravity of the problem. Okay? Most of us do not own this. We think that the problem is outside of us, but that is not true. And this is great news. So to solve your problem, you need to look at the facts and your thoughts about the facts and decide if how you’re thinking about the problem is actually how you want to be thinking about the problem. Okay.
If the answer is yes, that how you’re thinking about the problem and how you’re thinking about the facts is how you want to think about them, then you don’t need to change anything. It’s just a problem. You can solve it and you will get through it, but if you think about it and you decide you don’t want to create this problem, then you can decide to change how you’re thinking about it.
Do you want to be angry? Do you want to be judgemental? Do you want to be curious? Do you want to be understanding? There is no right answer. Kay and people come to me with coaching and they want to be coached and they really want me as the coach to tell them the answer. Right? Like that’s not good coaching.
Good coaching shows you that you have the answer. Okay. There is no right answer. You know the right answer for you. Okay? I promise you it’s all in your head. It’s all your thinking. You can decide for yourself what you want to be a problem. No one can decide that for you. What usually happens is that we’re in the habit of having a gut reaction to a circumstance in a way we don’t like. So something happens and you get really mad about it and you think that the circumstance caused you to feel a certain way.
But the truth is that circumstance did not cause you to feel a certain way. Okay? The circumstance happened and then you had a thought and that thought caused a feeling. But the truth is that you can change that thought if you want to, you can create a different thought instead. So you can choose how you want to feel.
If you want to change the way you feel, you’re going to have to do it intentionally because you will have been in the habit of reacting in certain ways to certain situations. It’s, I love the book breaking the habit of being yourself. I’ve talked about it before, Joe Dispenza, because he really talks about that. If you’ve been in the habit of doing this, you’ll have these thoughts so quickly that your body literally reacts before you even notice it. So the first step is really to just notice what story you’re telling about certain problems that you have in your life.
So think about what you want to think and feel with respect to whatever it is, whatever problem you’re having, and notice that there’s going to be a huge difference in how you solve the problem if you are coming from scarcity versus abundance.
So if you’re coming from abundance, you’re in an elevated emotional state and you will want to solve the problem and you won’t indulge as much. You’ll come from clarity and you’ll seek understanding. And it’s so, so useful. The problem is that you might not be in the habit of doing this. So it might be very challenging at first, you might be used to coming from scarcity and self pity and worry and anger and frustration. So think about your problem. Think about how you’re feeling about it and know that it’s your thought about the problem that’s causing you to feel this way.
Problems aren’t problems until you think about them. Thoughts about problems are choices. When you change the way you’re thinking about the problem, you will solve the problem immediately because it’s no longer a level of problem you’ve created it to be.
Instead you’re working on the solution. So what happens is we will often create problems based on what other people do because we have a manual for how they should behave. So we think that people in our lives should behave a certain way and when they don’t because they never do, we blame them for how we feel. And this gives all of our power away. And I want to offer to you that you don’t have to blame other people for how you act or feel. You’re not going to be able to control them. And you already know this. You’ve tried and it’s not worked.
Alright, I’ve tried, and it never works. It just feels terrible. But you can’t control yourself. And the first step is to just notice that you’re doing it. Because when you take responsibility of being in charge of your own problems, your problems are less intense because you’re the one causing them and you it. Okay.
So know that you are in charge of you and no one else. I want you to know that you have everything you need to solve your problems. I know it might not feel that way. I know that it can seem like the solution is outside of you, but I promise you that it’s within you and you can create new thoughts and beliefs so that you create new feelings so that you take different action so that you get the results that you want. Evaluate your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Pay attention.
Become the watcher of your mind. Ask yourself, are you reacting? Are you avoiding? Are you resisting? Are you pretending? Are you blowing things out of proportion? Are you walking around with intense anxiety? Pay attention to why you’re doing what you’re doing. Pay attention to those thoughts and feelings because nothing has an effect on you until you give it that power.
And you know this because you can see how other people react to the same situation that you’re reacting to, but they’ll have a different level of reaction, right? And the same goes for lots of different people in your life. Like same. One thing happens and various people react very differently. When you are angry, you’re going to take very different actions than when you’re curious. So become the watcher. Separate out your facts from your thoughts about the facts and that’s where you can start to notice the thoughts you’re thinking and then notice that you can change those thoughts.
A lot of our problems come from trying to rewrite our past, so we’re arguing with what has already happened. I want to just offer you that nothing has gone wrong in your life like up to this point, no matter what has happened to you, it happened exactly how it was supposed to happen and how do we know because it wouldn’t have happened that way.
The way that you rewrite your past is by rewriting what you’re making it mean so facts are facts, but you can change your story about the facts. You cannot change how you were raised or anything else that has happened in the past, but you can change your story about it. There is no old thinking. Your past is not affecting you. Did you hear that your past is not affecting you? It is your current thoughts about your past that is affecting you.
I remember when I first learned this and I was like, what? But it’s true. Think about it. So your past doesn’t exist anymore. The only thing that exists are the sentences in your head about the past. So nothing in your past needs to change in order for you to feel better about it. This is freaking great news.
You can make your past mean what ever you want. And there are such good examples of this. If you look up like Tony Robbins story, Brooke Castillo, another good example where they have decided to make their past mean that they are an example of what is possible and that without their childhood being what it was, they wouldn’t be creating the most amazing future that they are right now. So if you believe that you had a horrible childhood, you will feel horrible. And I just want you to know that you don’t have to believe that.
Like no matter what happened, you just don’t have to believe that. I love this. It’s so powerful. You can change your thinking about whatever happened. You can change your thinking about your childhood, no matter what has happened to you, you’ll feel better now without anything else changing.
You can believe that you had the exact childhood you needed to have in order to get you to where you are today in order to help you create your future destiny. And you can believe that your life couldn’t have happened any other way, but that the way it did and then notice how it feels. So I love the exercise of telling the story of your life happening to you and then telling the story of your life happening for you and notice how you feel. Right? So your feelings are what causes you to act always. And actions are what lead to results.
So you have to come up with a story that is aligned with the results that you ultimately want. And if you are telling a story about your life being horrible and you feel horrible, you are not going to create amazing abundant results. So it matters a lot. Tell two stories and notice how you feel when you tell them. Practice this in real life, practice solving your problems. And I, I know that if this is totally new to you, it’s going to be a challenge, right?
But it can also be so powerful. So start small, think about a small problem and write out the facts and then write out your thoughts about the facts and then decide to change the story. And I think this is helpful if you like, write it down initially when the problem’s happening. Write down the facts and all your thoughts about the facts and then wait a couple days until your feelings have subsided and maybe the problem is not as big of a deal anymore.
And then go back and look at the facts and look at what you wrote down, your thoughts were. And you might notice that you’re really spinning things that aren’t true. And again, awareness is the first step. So if you notice that you’re in the habit of doing this, you’ll start to stop yourself while you’re doing it. But you have to become aware of it first.
So ask yourself what you want to be thinking and feeling. Instead, you can do this for your past. You can do this for the current problems you’re having and you can do it for the future. When you think about your future, I want you to be excited about it, problems and all. There is no limit to what you can create and you can always solve your problems by changing what you are making them mean and deciding intentionally how you want to feel about the problem and how you want to solve it. Okay? So go out there and start solving your problems. I will see you next week. Bye bye.
Thank you for listening to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. Subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to you. To learn more about designing your dream life visit NatalieBacon.com.