According to Dr. Gregory House a problem can be approached in three ways. No More Mr. Nice Guy – the 13th episode of the fourth season of House M.D. – gives a vivid overview of the options available:
Three cavemen see a stranger running towards them with a spear. One fights, one flees, one smiles and invites him over for fondue. That last guy didn’t last long enough to procreate.
So whenever we encounter a problem a challenge, we can deal with it in three possible ways:
- Accept the challenge and try to solve it.
- Walk away from it.
- Pretend there is no problem at all.
In fact, options 2 and 3 are quite similar. Faking everything is fine while it’s not is a form of escaping. So the options can be nailed down to two choices. Let’s call them roughly ‘fight’ and ‘flee’.
Fleeing Will Never Work In the Long Term
Avoiding a problem can work in a short term. Walking away is easy and effortless at a first glance. Yet in the long term such strategy is counter-productive. This is the ‘dead-end’ choice as it excludes development.
Another issue here is that according to one of the universal principles a problem is repetitive unless it is solved. This means you may avoid it once, twice or even more times. Yet it will re-appear in your life forcing you to adopt another strategy. The trap here, however, is that the longer we procrastinate, the less energy we will have to actually find and implement a solution.
I believe the root cause of the fleeing strategy is fear. Unfortunately, fear poisons the lives of millions throughout the world. Fear can take numerous forms – fear to act, fear to speak, fear to change, fear of the unknown, fear of loosing a comfort zone, and so on and so forth.
Sometimes fear is just an instant that will pass away once a dangerous or harmful situation is over. Sometimes fear can completely paralyze your will. In other cases it never really goes away – like a growling dog that is chased away with a stick but keeps coming back. All in all, it is an extremely unhelpful, stressful and energy-consuming state.
But the good news is that most of the things we fear never happen.
Fighting or Facing a Problem Is the Only Constructive Response
In contrast to the fleeing strategy, this ones brings positive results both in short and long-term perspectives. If you face a problem immediately, there is a high chance you’ll get an immediate positive result. Even if otherwise that will be a relief too. On a longer term we will grow self-confidence and self-evidence when dealing with a situation immediately rather than procrastinating.
The premises of the fighting strategy is courage as the opposite of fear. It takes courage to face a problem. It take courage not to surrender. It takes courage to walk along your own path when the world expects something else. And it takes courage to fight your fears.
A common misconception is that courage is the absence of fear. Courage is not the absence, but overcoming fear. This means brave and courageous people are afraid too. But what makes them different from cowards is the ability to face their fear instead of surrendering. Courage is ultimately the ability to act irregardless of the fear.
Which Choice Is Yours?
As human beings we all have the freedom of will. We have the choice to live or die, hate or love, be happy or sad, flee or fight, pursue a dream or give up on it, hold on to our fears or practice courage.
Which one is yours? 🙂