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The problem easy button

Posted Jan 17 2013 5:00am

Where did I put that easy button that solves everyone’s problems?



Have you seen that commercial where there is an easy button and you push it and the problem is solved? Do you ever wish there was one of those buttons?

Clients come for counseling and they talk about how bad their life is, how they wish that family member would change and so on. What they don’t usually talk about is what they are willing to do to get this situation to change.

So if we had an easy button for your life problems – would you hit it?

Surprisingly many people would not be willing to hit the button.

Say you have a lot of anxiety and you could hit this button and all your anxiety would be gone, a very large number of you will pass on that opportunity. Why won’t people hit the easy button when it is sitting there on the table in front of them?

One reason is that our problems become like old friends. We are used to our particular brand of suffering and we are afraid that if this problem were to be solved then there would be other changes in our lives, changes that scare us. The terror we know is less scary than the one that might be around the bend in the path we have never trod.

For people who suffer from anger, depression or substance abuse their problem can become a part of who they think they are. Depression like Anxiety keeps you from doing things. That fear protects you from trying and therefore you don’t have to worry about making mistakes. You can’t do it because of Mr. Anxiety, Mary Jane or Miss Crystal, so it is not your fault. If we take your anxiety from you and you were able to do things – guess what. Some of those things would not turn out well. You might even make some mistakes.

The cost of having an illness that prevents you from doing things, needs to be balanced with the risks that if you did those things they will not all turn our perfectly.

With the freedom to make choices to decide how you chose to live your life also come responsibilities. You need to own your choices, the good and the bad. Freedom has its risks. 

Sometimes it is nice to have someone listen; understand what we are going through. Life can be hard and having a supportive person can be a great comfort. That person should not be someone who convinces you to hold on to your misery because a life free of suffering is just too scary.

I accept that many of us have had to live with pain. Pain may be a part of the human condition but the suffering, that is optional.

One thing the counselor should not do is become a co-conspirator with the client and begin to tell them that they should give up. That with your problems there is no way you could be successful and so of course you should not try.

Despite the reality that giving up is bad advice no matter who tells you to do it, we all from time to time tell ourselves that we need to stop trying. The risks of solving our life problems are just too great.

So if the problem solving button were in front of you – right now – hit it and your problem will be solved – will you do it? Are you ready to take that chance?

What will it take for you to be ready to leave those problems behind?

That button, that key to solving your problems, it has been there all this time, deep down inside you. You should know by now that your life can be happier if only you chose to let go of the suffering and make the most of your life with or without the pain.

The anger, the anxiety, the addiction, they may have been your long-term companions but they are not your friends. Kick them to the curb and get on with your life. 

Photo credit: Joana Roja 

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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