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A problem can be defined as:
A PERCEIVED BARRIER TOWARD A DESIRED OUTCOME
A “desired outcome” could be in a form of creating or accomplishing a desired condition, situation, or some form of reality. It could also be in a form of maintaining a desired condition, while a problem would be something that threatens its continuation.
Traffic could be a problem when someone needs to get somewhere in a short amount of time, but it could actually be a “blessing” if someone wanted to have a good excuse of not making it somewhere. Dirty dishes (barrier) could be a problem IF someone wanted to have a clean kitchen (desired outcome). Nightmares or some form of mental affliction could definitely be a problem if someone wanted to have a peace of mind and more control over their mental performance.
Someone’s “counter-intention” could definitely be a problem IF someone needed or desired some form of cooperation from that other person (desired reality) or if the one with counter-intention continued to take actions which lead to some unwanted conditions or situations. However, a “counter-intention” is only one among many different forms of a problem that can be identified.
Problems can be identified with a simple question:
What is your perceived barrier to … [desired activity or accomplishment]?
The question could be simplified to:
What do you see as a barrier to …?
An individual needs to determine what it is that (s)he wants to do or accomplish and then identify what it is that (s)he perceives to be in the way. It is important to have “perceived” (or “see”) in the question in order to prompt the person to become aware of and self-reflect on one’s own perception of that which (s)he has conceived to be a barrier.
What is your perceived barrier? [as a general question could be asked repeatedly]
Alternatively, a problem could also be defined as:
SOMETHING YOU PERCEIVE THAT YOU WANT TO CHANGE
Basically, whatever reality that you perceive that you want to be different could technically be a problem. It could be someone’s attitude, it could be some kind of a situation, it could be something about your body – anything that you perceive that you want to be different could be a form of a problem.
What should change? – is another good question to identify problems
Many “problems” can seem to resolve by simply addressing and taking responsibility for one’s own formulated perceptions. This could include discovering and addressing potential reasons behind formulating perception of something to be a problem.
Yet another simplified definition of a problem could be:
PERCEPTION OF SOMETHING WRONG
What do you perceive as being wrong? – could be a simple question to identify perceived problems.
The above two definitions can be combined into: PERCEPTION OF SOMETHING WRONG THAT SHOULD BE CHANGED.
Imagined problems can be seen as made-up, illusory, or imaginary problems.
Perhaps, some differentiation should be made between an imagined problem – an IDEA of some problem that can be resolved by addressing functions of the mind alone – and a CREATED problem – an actual problematic condition or situation that has to be addressed and resolved. A created problem can often start as an imagined problem that could manifest into an actual condition or situation. For example, someone who is told or somehow taught that they have a problem with something could under the influence of such idea develop an actual problem.
Often times what we think to be problems with ourselves or something else are ideas that we have adopted from various channels such as verbal communication, books, tele-vision or other media, or even telepathy (something projected into individual’s consciousness).
For example, someone can learn of an idea that “ego” is a problem or that “negative thoughts” is a problem or even “desires” themselves and then believe that these things are a problem and expand efforts to try to resolve them, when in fact the source of the perceived problem may simply be an adopted idea that something is a problem, when it actually doesn’t have to be.
Ideas of problems can be adopted from different sources such as from some teachings or media (television programming, movies, news agencies, commercials, etc) or from more direct interactions / relationships with other people.
In evaluating ideas of problems in another individual, one should make an effort to understand how those ideas formed in that individual’s mind to begin with. If someone is communicating or asserting that something is a problem, a question could be asked: “Why do you think this is a problem?” to prompt the person to reflect upon their own idea, or perception, of a problem.
Also, the underlying idea may not always be evident or explicitly communicated. The idea may be hidden in the subconscious and then affect attitude and behavior where the person may not even realize the underlying cause of their discontent. Depending on the situation, considerable skill may be required to discover the underlying “logic” in someone’s evident discontent with something.
And of course, a differentiation must be made between real problems that may need to be addressed and resolved and imaginary problems – something that seems to be a problem simply due to an idea that it is a problem.
Examples of questions that can be formulated to identify perceived problems that were adopted from interactions with other people:
Is there anyone that had a problem with you? (such as something you did or said or thought or anything else about you) or simply:
Who had a problem with you?
This can be followed by:
Did that person have similar problems with someone else? (to see if it was something that the person dramatized with respect to people in general).
On another end, a person can also be asked:
Is there anyone that you had a problem with? or Who did you have a problem with?
Someone could be stuck in a problem on any subject including with respect to other people in general. If someone is seen to be stuck in some form of perceived problem, a question could be asked:
Do you know of anyone else that had a problem with this?
PROBLEMS DUE TO BLOCKED PERCEPTION
An individual can perceive to have a problem with something for which his or her perception was somehow blocked or invalidated.
For example, person S (source) observes something about person T (target of perception). Person S communicates one’s emerging perception about T to person I (invalidator, inhibitor) who in response invalidates that perception and criticizes person S for having it or may even make efforts to block person S from even trying to make observations and develop one’s own thought on the subject. Thereafter person S may experience a sense of psychological affliction or some form of problem (barrier) whenever directing attention at or even trying to think about person T or a similar subject and mistakenly attribute the sense of discomfort to the subject of observation itself, whereas the actual cause would be a blocked ability to freely observe and form perception of T that was caused by person I.
This could apply to virtually any area of observation where someone’s emerging thought or perception was somehow blocked or invalidated, especially by a source of perceived authority. This subject is discussed at greater depth on page SANITY AND INSANITY.