Problem vs Challenge: The Real Meaning Behind Your Words

"I have a problem!"
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"I have a problem!"

You hear iterations of this statement all the time. Everyone has a problem. But do they really?

In the world of relationships, especially in strained relationships and divorce, it's easy to feel that there are problems. It all comes down to how you look at it.

What is a Problem? You'll find various definitions of the word Problem, and they all indicate that a problem is something difficult to deal with, or a source of trouble. They all paint a very negative picture.

A good example that comes from identifies a problem as:

  • any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty

Certainly we experiences obstacles that could be defined like this, especially in divorce.

But here is my problem with the word Problem... it's generally viewed as a negative. To most people when something is wrong, hard, or bad, it's a problem.

This lends to a mindset of limiting beliefs. Giving power to the obstacles in your life means you are opening yourself up for excuses, and you are giving away ownership. This is not effective.

When dealing with divorce and the strained relationship that comes with an ex, giving away ownership of your thoughts, words, actions, and reactions, only opens you up for disappointment.

I prefer to look at obstacles in life as a Challenge.

A challenge is different. At its core it is an empowering thing. defines a challenge as:

  • a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc
  • something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc

You see, a challenge is an opportunity for success and growth. It is not an easy thing, but by approaching an obstacle as a Challenge, rather than a Problem, we retain the power to act upon it, and influence, if not determine, the outcome.

Words Matter

I've written about this before. Words have the power to build or destroy. Words carry incredible meaning and emotion. Our word selection essentially empowers or diminishes us as we approach things.

Think back to a happy time in your life, perhaps a personal accomplishment or a success in your profession. Think of the words you would use to describe how you felt at that time. What kind of words are they?

Now think about a disappointing time in your life. Maybe it was a time your relationship failed or you lost something that was important to you. How would words describing that experience make you feel?

Now that you've thought about your experiences re-actively, I would like you to think of things pro-actively. How could your words today make you or those you interact with feel? Do you think your word selection could influence the emotions that come with them? How do you think the words you use to describe a responsibility or obstacle could affect your approach and effort towards that obstacle? How do you think your choice of positive words the next time you deal with your ed could affect the way that conversation goes?

The man who takes control of his life by choosing his thoughts and his words, is the man who is better prepared to accomplish all the many things he desires.

You Are the Author

I would like to propose a challenge. For the next two days, carefully select the words you use. Think before you speak, and make sure those words are as positive as you can make them. When you slip up and speak negatively, catch and correct yourself. Acknowledge to yourself, and to those who were part of the conversation, that you meant to say a more positive thing.

This will be extremely challenging (see what I did there?) if you deal with your ex during this time, but I assure you it will make the conversation go much smoother. And, even if they are determined against such an uplifting interaction, you will be able to walk away knowing you stand on higher ground.

As you do this 2 day positive word challenge, I would ask you to pay attention to the way you feel about the responsibilities and obstacles of your day. I believe you will find them to be more manageable. I believe you will feel more hopeful. And I believe you will be more successful.

Words have power. You can literally craft your experiences by the way you speak of them and approach them. You can take control of most any situation and alter your perspective to see the positives and possibilities.

Share in the comments section of this post the experiences you have had with this challenge. I would guess that you find reason enough to extend this beyond the two days I am asking for. See how this makes a difference in your life.

Are you up to the Challenge?

Question: As described in this post, what was your experience with the 2 day positive words challenge? Leave a comment below.

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