During my second year at Kaospilots in Rotterdam we had a workshop host from KaosPilots in Aarhus, Denmark coming to guide us through the workings of Process Design. Kristin Birkeland is an inspiring, caring woman who always manages to get to the very essence of a group and their process and I greatly admire her work as a coach, facilitator and artist. In the week we were blessed with her presence we talked about many things that matter, and one of the most insightful things she told us was this simple phrase:
There are really only two types of problems in this world. There’s the ones you can do something about, and there is no sense worrying about them. Then there’s the ones you can’t do anything about, and there is no sense worrying about them.
This simple phrase has helped me take distance from worrying about any so-called “problem”. It has encouraged me to take action when I can and let go when I can’t. The wisdom contained in this statement continue to deepen inside myself over the years.
Consider the fact that problems always arise in the dimension of time. You tend to make problems of situations that concern either the past or the (imagined) future. If an emergency situation manifests in the present moment, we don’t have time to make it into a “problem”, but we spring into immediate action. Now I see that this is also what Kristin spoke of. The problems you can do something about belong in the future. The reason there is no sense in worrying about them is that you will, no doubt, handle them when they arise in the present. You can take action. The problems you cannot do anything about belong in the past. There is no sense in worrying because the situation cannot be changed. It happened how it happened and no amount of worrying can change that. In fact the act of worrying is what makes a situation into a problem!
Whenever I feel myself making a “problem” out of a situation, I know I can get out of it by bringing my attention into the present. Like anything it gets stronger with practice and the statement from Kristin has helped me greatly in this. Thank you!
(This post was originally posted to my old blog in 2014)