When you’re trying to find a solution it can be easy to get stuck on one particular path. You want to believe that you can work things out so you trudge on hoping for the best.
Maybe you tell yourself that if things aren’t working out then you’re not working hard enough.
But sometimes the truth is you need a different approach to the situation.
It can be difficult to open up to a new way of doing things, especially when you’ve been trying one set way for so long.
However, if you’re willing to do something different even if it doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll probably find yourself closer to the solution.
How could I do that to myself?
The idea that we intentionally ruin things for ourselves is fascinating but also odd because despite causing the mess we often end up surprised, sad or angry that it happened.
Over-coming self-sabotaging behaviours can serve as a growth point where you have the opportunity to unlearn unhelpful beliefs.
Sometimes we mess things up due to limiting beliefs or our own insecurities become self-fulfilling properties. You might find yourself caught up in the unfortunate outcome that it doesn’t even cross our mind that you were the cause of it, or perhaps you’re not ready to admit it.
I’ve learnt that sometimes the problem is you.
And the beauty of causing problems is that in most cases you can fix them too!
There is power in the meaning we attach to words.
The Bare Minimum Betty concept is something I came up with because I enjoy playing around with ideas and creating characters. But it’s about more than just a made up character that doesn’t go above and beyond.
What started as just part of my writing practice resulted in me reflecting on my own behaviour.
I began identifying moments in my life where I was being bare minimum, not in a critical way but in a gentle way. Like ‘oh, I could put in more effort here’ or ‘I can feel myself holding back’.
And in these moments of reflection I began to understand what it really means to be bare minimum.
It’s complaining or being frustrated with where you’re at because you’re not putting much effort in and not getting much back.
It’s going through life without letting your core self be seen.
It’s following instructions and not being willing to ask questions.
It’s being tossed about by the waves of life because you aren’t willing to pick up an oar.
It’s noticing a problem but waiting for someone else to offer a solution.
That’s not the kind of person I want to be, yet I like many others sometimes fall into being a bare minimum Betty.
But in recognising those things in myself I’m able to push past them. So, when I notice I’m holding back, I’ll push past those feelings and speak up.
On the flipside I’m also aware that some people are totally satisfied with being good enough or bare minimum that is totally okay as long as you don’t pretend you’re offering your best.
Which one are you?
The first kind is the one we all know and love (or perhaps just tolerate through excessive eye rolls). This person is problem focused. They find a problem with anything and everything.
What’s worse is if you offer a potential solution they’ll probably find a problem with that too.
The second person is solution focused. They’ll complain as a way to vent their frustrations but then they’ll move on and do something about it.
The first person never manages to progress nearly as much as the second.
We’re all just doing our best which is something that we often forget and it might be the reason why we’re often so quick to judge others.
We so easily get caught up in our own world, our own challenges, experiences and struggles that we don’t consider everyone else is going through things too.
You might be struggling with anxiety but someone else may have financial issues and be struggling to pay their bills. People don’t often share what they’re going through (especially not with strangers) so all we know is our own personal stuff that we’re carrying around with us.
But, I think it would be naive to say let’s all share our struggles and challenges.
However, when you’re going through things I think it’s important to remember that everyone else goes through things too.
Not as a way to invalidate your own experiences but to help you realise that it’s totally normal to have challenges and difficult experiences in life.
And once you truly realise that for yourself, extend that to everyone you meet.
A simple but useful exercise
Get a piece of paper and split it in 2 (or create a word document or excel spreadsheet). On one side write all your problems, the big, small and in-between.
Then the other side come up with a solution to each one.
In my experience, I’ve found that this lowers the feeling of overwhelm because once your problem has a solution it’s no longer such a big deal.
The problem could be that you’ve been feeling really tired lately. The solution to that could be getting more sleep by going to bed earlier or eating more nourishing food so that you have more energy throughout the day.
Or perhaps you don’t have enough time to work on your side projects. The solution could be to commit to setting 1hr aside every day. And to cut out or reduce other things that are taking up your time that aren’t important like Netflix.
Once you’re done you’ll have an action plan in front of you and if those problems are really bothering you’ll do something about it.
For some people the idea that they can solve the problems and inconveniences in their life is not something they’ve considered.
When an inconvenience arises and you take the ‘do nothing approach’, it might not go away. It might remain or just grow and grow to the point where it’s unbearable.
Imagine you get a light pain in your back and it’s uncomfortable at the time but you just shrug it off assuming yeah, it’ll just go away. Maybe you’re right but your back is also quite important so it’s worth taking the ‘do it now approach’ and getting checked out.
In a few months that small pain could turn into something much worse.
The point I’m making can be applied to so many aspects of life.
Maybe at times we choose to do nothing because we don’t think it’s a big deal or we feel getting help would be an inconvenience for other people. Most significantly we assume that these little problems won’t be the cause of avoidable issues in the future.
The next time a problem or inconvenience comes up, don’t just ignore it, nip it in the bud as soon as you can, you don’t have to carry every little problem with you through life.
You can make things easier, if you want to.
When you’re so focused and set on finding a solution to a problem it probably won’t come to you.
The answer will go over your head because you’re putting too much pressure on it. Imagine you have a container of water, if you put too much pressure on the water it’ll go up (as in over your head).
It usually works much better to remain calm, give yourself time and know that the answer will come.
And when you put too much pressure on the solution and try to figure it out before you’re ready you end up doing the ‘wrong thing’.
Whereas if you give yourself time the solution will just come to you in a moment of spontaneity when you least expect it.
You’ll be doing something like brushing your teeth, buttoning your shirt or eating lunch.
Then all of a sudden ta-da, there it is.
I think this is what they call a break through.
Perhaps we should look at situations from a neutral perspective.
The feeling you have towards any situation is not the problem and that is the mistake that is so often made.
We get so carries away by how dreadful it feels and sometimes that can spur us on but other times its just a hindrance. How are you supposed to go out into the world and thrive when you’re caught up in emotions.
Take unemployment for example. If you’re focused on how blah it feels to not have a job then every rejection email will be more likely to feel like a knock physically and mentally. Then before you know it you’ll be declaring that the job market is impossible and that you’re without a hope in the world.
The feeling is not the problem.
If you’re instead focused on the act of applying for jobs and improving your CV you’ll undoubtedly have a very different experience.
And the thing with a job is if there’s only vacancy and 50 people apply even if they’re all perfect applicants 49 people will still ‘lose’.
But that doesn’t make them losers it just means they have to keep playing that game.
Everybody complains every now and then but if that’s all you do people will soon get bored.
When you complain, you’re identifying a problem and so the next step is finding the solution.
Everyone goes through stages of wanting to change an element of their life but if you’re not willing to do anything about it, you might want to stop talking about it.
If you’re still complaining about the same thing months or years later maybe try asking yourself how can I change this?
You really can change your life, if you want to.