Your Attitude Toward Your Problems Defines You

Sometimes, problems trap you. However, being able to face them with a proactive attitude will help you find better solutions.
Your Attitude Toward Your Problems Defines You
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Your attitude toward your problems is a clear reflection of your personality. It doesn’t matter if you’re offered resources, advice, and strategies to deal with your problems, if your character is defined by impulsiveness, by acting before thinking, or by the kind of resistance where you obsessively insist that nothing will turn out well, it’ll be extremely difficult to move toward any resolution.

The writer and journalist, Henry-Louis Mencken, said that every problem has an easy solution, one that’s plausible and another that’s clearly wrong. Becoming the person who’s capable of seeing a simple, original, and beneficial way out of any challenge requires, above all, making several changes in yourself. However, you can’t achieve it overnight.

To understand it better, let’s take an example. Say you’re suffering from extreme stress at work. You feel undervalued and are also experiencing mobbing. Even so, you continue to go to work every day on time. Even though your environment, family, and friends advise you to leave and opt for another job, you carry on.

In this kind of situation, advice is useless. Indeed, others’ good intentions and valuable strategies are irrelevant to you. For, as Albert Ellis said, change must start from yourself. This requires having to come face to face with your own thoughts, personality, beliefs, and chaotic, complex, and often neglected internal universe.

Labyrinth-shaped labyrinth representing our attitude to problems

Your attitude to problems is everything

Problems are like a labyrinth. You can either get lost in this maze or accept it as a challenge to test yourself and learn and generate a change that benefits you. In these cases, there’s an almost magical component: your attitude. However, in most cases and almost without knowing it, you make use of a clearly dysfunctional one.

To understand the impact of this psychological dimension in your daily life, you need to understand what attitudes are made of. The University of Massachusetts (USA) conducted a study by Dr. Icek Ajten that revealed few areas of human nature are so complex.

An attitude is nourished by your values, by the experiences you’ve had, and the lessons you’ve learned. In addition, they’re colored by your emotions (like your deepest fears) and also of cognitive processes such as limiting thoughts, biases, and ideas. Therefore, your attitude can either be the best impulse for overcoming obstacles or an anchor that leaves you trapped on an island of unhappiness.

Reactive people: a bad strategy for facing problems

“I’m not perfect… But I’m enough” said the psychotherapist and promoter of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers. This is a great truth. After all, there’s no doubt that you’re not perfect but, even so, you can try and be your own best friend. Nevertheless, you often act like your worst enemy.

If you assume, almost without realizing it, a reactive position in the face of problems, you’re like a leaf in the wind, blowing one way and another with no control. In fact, you’re limited to passively receiving the blows that life brings you, without anticipating them or applying coping strategies.

If you’re this kind of person you’ll also:

  • Let yourself be overwhelmed by your emotions. You’ll assume that a problem is a dead end, and feel frustration, anger and impotence. These emotions end up permeating everything in your life, thus affecting many vital areas.
  • Have an inflexible mind. You apply tunnel vision to each difficulty, only see the problem, and feel unable to pay attention to any options for solving it.
Mind of a person with a window inside representing the attitude to problems

Being proactive: the best attitude to adopt in the face of problems

Proactivity is the best attitude you can adopt in the face of problems. It’s a great power that allows you to have more control over your life, anticipate difficulties, and draw a more creative present and future for yourself, according to your needs. However, what does it really mean to be proactive? How can you sculpt, shape, or drive a proactive attitude? This is what being proactive means:

  • Proactivity means activating a mentality capable of detecting small day-to-day problems in order to solve them as soon as possible. It’s understanding that what worries, annoys, or bothers you today can’t be left until tomorrow.
  • A proactive perspective implies accepting that every problem is a good learning opportunity. It means viewing difficulties from a calm emotional state, without drifting into the kind of anguish that hinders you.
  • Being proactive implies developing a personality where you know and appreciate yourself and you trust your potential. It’s knowing that you deserve the best in life and having a mentality focused on the here and now while, at the same time, trusting in a better future.
  • A proactive attitude means that your attitude toward problems is always positive, disciplined, and flexible. You don’t fear changes, you learn from your mistakes, and you know how to make plans to prevent failures from happening again.

How to change your attitude

However, all this theory is great, but how does it apply to everyday situations? Here are some practical tips:

  • Narrow down your problems: Sometimes, difficulties seem to swallow up everything around them. Therefore, try to summarize the problem in a single sentence and work on it.
  • Train your tolerance for frustration. Even if you take a deep breath, you often can’t solve your problems immediately. Working on your tolerance will give you the ability to stay calm until you can resolve them.
  • Lean on others. Although personal development is a one-way street, your social environment also has a big influence on you. Therefore, don’t hesitate to seek help.
  • Don’t lose sight of where you are. Looking too much into the future or back at the past makes you think about what could’ve been (or what’s no longer) instead of what you have in your hands right now to help you solve the problem.

To conclude, as Henry Ford said, people have the subtle tendency to spend an enormous amount of time and energy avoiding problems. Perhaps we forget that the key doesn’t lie in avoiding them, but in knowing how to deal with them. Without a doubt, if you change your attitude toward your problems and apply a more proactive approach, you’ll feel so much better.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.