If you have read the article titled “Your problems don’t exist“, then you will know that things only become problems because we label them as ‘problems’ – and all of this happens in our heads. So if you go ahead and, next time you encounter a problem, label it as a ‘potato’, will the problem go away?…
“I don’t have any ‘problems’ per se, anymore… but look at all these rotten potatoes I’ve got!”…
Why is a laptop called a ‘laptop’? Because it is a machine placed on top of your lap. Why is your name Jane and not Jack? Because your parents gave you that name. Why is anything, essentially, anything? Because we label them as such.
We use words to mean things. That is the way humans communicate. Just because you call a cat a ‘cat’ doesn’t mean it suddenly becomes the cat – it already was what it was and it will always be. Just like how, if you decided to call it a ‘dog’ instead, it will not stop being a cat and be a dog.
Names and labels are just words. They don’t mean anything more than the meaning we give them.
Yet words can sometimes be quite powerful weapons. You can hurt people with them! If you don’t appreciate what the other person is telling you, you can go “Look at that bullshit pouring out of your mouth…!” Yet, it wouldn’t be quite as offensive if you, instead, said “Look at that strawberry pouring out of your mouth…”… would it?
So, why do words have such power over us?
The Power of Words
How can a single person in a powerful position can kill thousands of people with the single word of his mouth; yet thousands of people united, screaming the same words over and over again, cannot overthrow one person sitting in a position of power?
How can a word not bother us when used by a stranger in the street; yet, the exact same word tears us apart when it is uttered by someone we love?
How can we need so many words to communicate our feelings, when sometimes a single look can tell the whole story? Why do we try to use so many words, when not a single one of them can truly convey what we mean?…
In every language, people have used certain words to mean certain things. Eventually those things became those words in people’s heads. Today, things are no longer seen as being apart from their respective word.
If you see a cat crossing the road, you think “a cat“… not “a four-legged furry creature with a wiggly tail“.
If I tell you to think of a “banana”, you think of the fruit itself. The only thing I have told you is just a “word”, yet it has conjured up an image of the fruit you have associated the word with.
In that light, a “problem” is a word that has negative meanings associated with it. It is a word that is not much liked by people. Why? Because it has a ‘p’ or an ‘l’ in it? Of course not! The word “play” also has a ‘p’ and an ‘l’ in it – but we don’t go “Darn it, it’s play time again, I hate having fun…“
The word ‘problem’ doesn’t feel nice because of how it makes us feel. We have used the word to mean so many negative things that it now comes with feelings attached to it. Whenever you use the word, you feel slightly irritated or annoyed. You start to feel like you have a problem. It turns into more than just a word.
And that validates the ‘realness’ of your “problem”. Now it’s more than a word. Now you can feel it. Now you are irritated by it! Garrrgghhh!
Playing with the Words
So… if problems are essentially just words, can we just replace them with something that sounds… let’s say… nicer?
Sure, why not!
You could call your boss when you’re stuck in a traffic jam saying “Hey boss, sorry I’ll be late, there is so much traffic ecstasy going on here!” Of course, then he would reply with “I don’t care, get high immediately or you’ll be hired!“
As fun as that would be, we both know that won’t solve our problems. It does help us realise, however, that what makes a problem ‘a problem’ is the meaning we place over it.
That means: something can only be as problematic as you make it so.
You could try substituting the word with a random one… but that would probably cause a lot of confusion!
Instead, you can take off the negative meaning you have uploaded on to the word. What I mean is: the word ‘problem’ doesn’t necessarily have to bring up bad feelings. It doesn’t have tomake you feel irritated, annoyed or frustrated.
It can simply mean “a situation to overcome”. You see, both can be used to describe the same thing, yet one way sounds and feels nicer than the other.
Stripping Off the Negativity
To make the feelings of negativity conjured by the word go away, you can simply realise and accept that it is only a word. Words are just that: string of letters used to describe things. They don’t have to come with feelings attached.
You may not be able to change the word’s meaning in the dictionary, but you can change what that word means to you. You can change the feeling it gives to you.
By changing that, you can alter how you see and feel about things. You can choose to feel the meaning that has been given to a word – or you can give it a different feeling just by changing it in your head.
This way of thinking will enable you to see problems as nothing more than a tiny stone lodged under your shoe. It will help you be in a better state of mind, hence more able to deal with situations easily.
Go ahead and take that feeling off of the word…