Practical Philosophy

Break monsters down

Sometimes we face problems that we don’t think we can solve.

“Oh, I can’t talk to her.”

“I don’t think I can give this presentation.”

“I am too shy to ask for a raise.”

In such instances, we are confronted by Chaos; the terrifying unknown and all of its possibilities. Our imagination conjures up scenarios of all the possible negative outcomes – rejection, humiliation, and so on.

In Discovering Personality, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson recommends a solution to dealing with the anxiety these situations induce. He says we should break down large problems into smaller, precise problems, and then voluntarily confront them.

Let’s look at the first problem, “Oh, I can’t talk to her.” Let’s break down the problem of asking out a girl into smaller challenges to build confidence. Could we talk to a stranger, perhaps? Could we smile at a stranger?

When we break down the problem, the monster shrinks. We shine a light into the darkness, and turn chaos into order. Things don’t seem so scary once we break them down into smaller problems. Focus on making incremental gains than giant leaps, just like when tackling procrastination.

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