The #1 Thing That Stops People From Solving Problems

The #1 thing that stops people from solving a problem is the inability to accept the existence of the problem.

I refer to this inability as the “I shouldn’t have to do X” syndrome.

The “I shouldn’t have to do X” syndrome is when we can’t see the effectiveness of a proposed solution because we’re too busy resenting the fact that such a solution is required in the first place.

For instance, suppose you have some basic needs that aren’t being met in a relationship. As an example, maybe your roommates fail to clean up after themselves. After spending several weeks being frustrated by such an inconvenience, it occurs to you that the problem can be solved rather simply by informing your roommates that their behavior is infringing on certain agreements you’ve made about maintaining a clean environment.

Here’s where the “I shouldn’t have to do X” syndrome rears its ugly head:

Although you know the problem could be solved by speaking up, you’re also upset about the fact that your roommates are unaware of issues that seem pretty obvious to you. So your brain says “I shouldn’t have to tell other adults to clean up after themselves. I’m not their parents. I’m their roomate. This is something they should be able to figure out on their own.”

If you’ve ever adopted that line of reasoning, you were probably right. And that’s precisely the problem with “I shouldn’t have to do X” syndrome. It’s almost always right and usually never effective.

It’s probably true that you shouldn’t have to do X in order to solve your problems, but it’s also true that the universe doesn’t revolve around what you think you should or shouldn’t have to do.

Life isn’t about what you should have to do. It’s about what you’re willing to do.

Maybe you shouldn’t have to work hard. Maybe you shouldn’t have to speak up. Maybe you shouldn’t have to ask for what you want. Maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise. Maybe you shouldn’t have to listen to someone else’s opinion. Maybe you shouldn’t have to put up with things you don’t like. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows. We all have different conflicting ideas about what we should or shouldn’t have to do.

If you want to solve problems, however, there’s a much bigger payoff if you shift your thinking from worrying about what you shouldn’t have to do to focusing on what you’re willing to do in order to make your goals a reality.

You shouldn’t have to do X, but you also shouldn’t have to settle for less than what you truly desire just because of what you shouldn’t have to do.