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An incident is not an issue

I’m convinced that most of us are not worn out by big issues. It’s just that we tend to squander our resources on the little things until we have nothing left in the tank when we attempt to address the big things.

It’s sorta like the guy who eats out a lot and spends $15-20 on food everyday. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to him in the moment. But when it’s time to pay a $200 bill two weeks later, he might wonder where his money went. In fact, he might not even think about that part at all. He might just blame the $200 bill for his stress and go on assuming that his life would be better if he didn’t have to pay that bill. In reality, his problem is not the bill. It’s money management. Had he more carefully budgeted his resources, he would have had little difficulty in handling the larger sized payments.

Just like we have bills to pay, we all have issues to deal with. 

Create an emotional budget

Two of the greatest assets we have in dealing with issues is time and energy.

Learning how to manage the amount of time we spend “sweating the small stuff”, will help us budget our energy in order to have more patience and creativity available for the big stuff.

Here’s a simple, yet practical, distinction that can reduce the amount of time we spend analyzing everyday problems or arguing over them with others.

An Incident is not an issue.

An “incident” is the occurrence of an unwanted event (ie. someone accidentally steps on your toe while you’re walking down the street).

An “issue” is a recurring problem (ie. the guy who stepped on your toe today is your co-worker and he somehow finds a way to do this to you everyday while you’re walking to your car after work).

If you don’t start a problem, there might not be a problem

When something unwanted happens, we tend to react in frustration by demanding lifestyle changes, long conversations, apologies, explanations, etc.

For example, when someone makes a mistake, it’s common for them to say something like “I need to be more careful.” While this judgement is possibly true, it isn’t necessarily the case.

Everybody makes mistakes. That’s simply a part of being human. Simply, acknowledging this fact is much more stress-free than turning every mishap into a judgement about your entire lifestyle or personality.

Maybe you don’t need to be more careful. Maybe you just forgot, or you were sleepy, or you had too much on your mind. Unless this is something you do 2-3 times a week and it’s starting to hurt your relationships, why not let it be the incident that it is?

Most of the unwanted things that happen on a daily basis are the result of encounters with people we’ll never see again (or at least not for a long time); common errors committed by individuals who normally get it right; simple mistakes that will naturally resolve themselves with time, and a host of factors that we’ll rarely have to address again if we let them slide.

Don’t turn a perfectly forgettable incident into a long drawn out issue. Conserve your energy. Youre gonna need it.

At least that’s the way I see it.

What about you?

T.K. Coleman

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