THE BLOG
04/16/2014 12:11 pm ET Updated Jun 16, 2014

Don't Solve Your Problems, Transcend Them

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

A wise, brave client just shared with me that the way she prays has changed.

Instead of praying for a solution to her problems as she has for the past 50 years, she's recently found herself praying for a change in perspective.

Instead of praying for the motivation to write her book, because that seems to be the external change that would make everything better, she's begun praying to see her writing "problem" in a clearer way.

She acknowledges that she doesn't actually know what she needs to feel better. The second she meets her inner discomfort with a plan to write more, she's falling for the misunderstanding that external changes equal inner freedom.

From a busy, worried mind, it always looks like an outside fix is what's needed. If the book would just flow easily, she'd be happy; except, she wouldn't. None of us would be made happy by the solution to our problems because happiness doesn't work that way.

My client and I joked about what we thought God would think (if God were a thinking person) while listening to her prayers: "Man, if only Anne would finish that damn book, everything would be so much better for her?"

The book being easier to write would likely mean the book would be written sooner rather than later. That would be nice, no doubt, but as soon as the book was done a new problem would pop up in a never ending game of whack-a-mole. You've noticed that in your own life, right? You're never there. There is always something.

My wise client is beginning to see that her "problems" are only matters of perspective. What she calls problems are only places where she's not seeing clearly; places where she's lost in thought.

Freedom from a chatty mind is what would actually help. We don't need to solve our problems as much as we need to transcend them and see the truth about them. Solving problems in the world gives us a momentary high and then an empty place for the next problem to fill; transcendence gives us freedom.

We transcend when we see a fuller, more accurate picture. It might look something like this:

1. Discomfort arises. You naturally try to push it away or fix it by changing something in the world around you. Instead, welcome the discomfort. Invite it to come all the way up to the surface. Look it in the eye -- it can't hurt you. It's only a feeling.

2. As you're looking at it, see it for what it is. That discomfort you're attempting to transcend is thought-created. It is your own fear, worry or insecurity coming to you via a blend of thought and emotion. Your mind -- not the world around you -- is the sole creator of it.

3. Remember that it's not personal or true. "You"... the real "you"... is the awareness that is observing the discomfort. You are not it, you are the witness to it. The discomfort is just an experience; it's no more meaningful than that.

4. Let it be there as long as it needs to. See it as an experience "you" are a witness to (rather than part of who you are), and you'll get that it can't hurt you. It will lose its perceived power. Then it will fade. All experience is temporary.

This is what my client Anne is intuitively doing when she sets aside the quest to feel better by writing more and opens herself to a new perspective. When the discomfort arises within her, she sees it for what it is. It is thought. It's not "her," it's not necessarily a real world "problem" and it's nothing she necessarily needs to solve or fix.

Not solving it leaves her with time to be in it. Rather than drowning in the pain, what she is finding -- and what everyone I know finds -- is that the experience begins to change.

She transcends it.

You will too.