The Second Person

Sometimes you come across a challenge that is very difficult for you to live with.

It could be a disability, a problem with your spouse, or any number of complicated affairs that happen to everyone, all throughout life.

The natural answer to this question is “Why me? I have enough problems, why this right now?” (Side note: You ever notice how it’s never the right time?)

Anyway, we feel like this problem is really annoying, and we don’t know how to handle it. We hope it isn’t as bad as we expected it would be, or that if we ignore it, it’ll just go away. If we’re lucky, it does.

But is that really luck?

We’re only as good as the problems we overcome. Think of those lottery winners who end up in bankruptcy– they didn’t have to struggle for the problem of managing small amounts of money, so they don’t know how to deal with massive sums, either.

It’s the same thing with any other situation you come across. Those that can’t deal with it call it a problem, while those that can don’t even consider it a problem at all. Your job is to become that second kind of person.

One of my favourite books is Man’s Search For Meaning– Viktor Frankl wrote it after getting out of Auschwitz (and many other camps) during World War II. In it, he says:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Somewhere in the future, on the other side of your problem, there is a future version of you that’s going, “Man, I still have to deal with this problem– why won’t it go away?”

Or, along another line, there is another version of you that’s saying, “Thank God I figured out how to take care of that. I’m in such a better place now.”

The difference is choice.

So choose.





5 responses to “The Second Person”

  1. Julien Avatar

    I actually wrote this entry for myself and stuff I’m dealing with right now.

    But it turns out that writing it out like this made me actually understand it better. Funny how that works.

  2. Whitney Avatar

    I read somewhere that you never have a problem that doesn’t also have a gift in its hands, and we seek these challenges because we need the gifts.
    I think we have to be puzzle masters- look at every challenge as a puzzle waiting to be solved, tinkered with, and overcome, allowing you the level up to the next challenge.
    There have been times where I’ve felt helpless, or like a victim of other people’s problems and issues. I know now that that’s never really been true…but it’s a mode of thinking many people adopt, because it resolves us of personal responsibility for the situation at hand. You always have choices to make. They may not always seem like great and attractive choices, they may be limited, but you always have choices- you just need to be willing to put the less traveled, less popular choices back in the table as options.

  3. Christina Avatar

    Don Miller puts a slightly different spin on the same idea in his book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” He says we’re all living stories, and if we want ours to turn out well we have to overcome obstacles and conflict the way we’d want to see it in a book or on a theater screen.

    Thank you for this post… I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to overcome problems, too, and it’s always good to hear/read how other people approach them. 🙂

    Good luck with whatever situation gave you the idea for this…

  4. Isolde Avatar

    Calling it a ‘challenge’ or a ‘situation’ is the best way to think. As soon as we shift our mindset and label it a ‘problem’, it affects how we deal with whatever is going on – generally not positively.
    Often we had seen it coming and chose to play the ostrich and ignore the situation, while it would have been simpler if we had faced reality earlier on. Things tend to get more complicated with time, we all know that. Also if we refuse to make decisions, chances are someone else will do it for us in the meantime, or the situation will evolve and some possibilities will no longer exist.
    So well, I try to follow some sports brand slogan and Just do it! (or just face it or whatever).

  5. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    So, yeah… I’m catching up on some reading… Better late than never, right?

    Anyway, I really, really like this post, so much I had to admit to just reading it to tell you that.

    Having recently been going through my own gauntlet of trials, I can say the first lesson I learned was that you cannot control what life puts before you. The only control you have is how you react to that.

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