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Sitting in the Problem

Sitting in the Problem

by Amy Neiman, LMSW

We are a society of fixers. We want answers to our problems, and nowadays, we want the answers fast. We pop on our computers or phones. We holler “Hey, Siri” and the answers start rolling down the screen. We have the answer to our discomfort delivered to our door by the Amazon truck. During the pandemic, I was even rushing around ordering toys for the dogs in hopes that a box from the website, Chewy, would be the answer to their boredom and my malaise.

My instinct always goes to “fix it.” How can I help or how can I make it better? And yet, after an eight-week course on meditation and mindfulness, I’m starting to wonder if I rush to fix issues that might need more time. My kids will tell you my dinners taste a lot better when I’ve planned them and actually read the recipe. The phrase that has been popping up from the class is “sitting in the problem.” That sounds terrible, not to mention that it goes against everything I am (see above). But I am also a learner, so I decided to give it a try. “Sitting in the problem” certainly doesn’t mean staying in crisis mode. There are indeed problems that do need to be addressed immediately. However, many of the conflicts, challenges, and dilemmas we face really do allow for “sitting.”

Believe it or not, there is activity in this kind of sitting. There are questions to think about:

-What has put you here?

-What specifically is causing this struggle?

-What is the timeline of events?

-Are there things that are going well? Use your strengths and those of others!

-What exactly ARE you feeling?

Pausing and answering these questions can help you assess situations; it empowers you to respond to a situation with a clear head instead of reacting emotionally; it allows you to stop fixing a symptom and start working on the actual problem. The next time your boss says something hurtful, your father won’t go to the doctor, or your carefully laid out plans blow up in your face, pause. Give yourself time to sit in the problem and think before reacting. Trust me when I tell you this is a process. For many, like me, it will be difficult at first. But this practice really does make a difference. And remember, there is always someone here at CJFS to “sit” with  you.

The Licensed Social Workers of CJFS provide confidential professional counseling for individuals and families of all ages. CJFS Counseling is available in person, on the phone or via video platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, and most insurance are accepted. To learn more, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, or 205.879.3438.