Have you ever been paralyzed by the difficulty of a situation? Have you ever felt so intimidated by a problem that you didn’t know how to even begin to overcome it?
Over the years I have met with countless patients that are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges in life. If you have been there, you know how powerless a person feels when they don’t see how they can conquer an overbearing obstacle.
I have even seen people that are unable to actively pursue solutions to easier problems due to stress, emotional depression, being overtired, illness or chronic pain.
I have discovered that the only way to address a problem of any size is to take the first step. After that first step, almost miraculously a person can begin to see the next step and their courage is increased ten-fold.
A speaker used the following analogy during a talk many years ago that has stuck with me. I have embraced this analogy to help me many times when faced with a complex situation in which I had far more questions than answers.
A policeman arrived at a red light next to another vehicle driven by a middle-aged lady. As the light turned green, he noticed the car next to him didn’t move. He paused for a moment to see if perhaps the driver needed assistance or maybe she just wasn’t paying attention.
He saw that she seemed to be fine and was intently staring straight ahead, but was not moving. She stayed there so long the light turned red again. The officer watched as she sat through the next light without proceeding through the intersection.
The officer pulled over, turned on his blue lights and approached the car. “Are you okay, ma’am?”
She replied, “Yes officer, is there a problem?”
“Ma’am, you have sat through two cycles of the traffic light without moving. Why did you not go when the light turned green?
She looked at him earnestly and explained, “Of course this light was green, but the one ahead was still red and so was the one on down the street, so I don’t see how I could go all the way to my destination with so many red lights.”
It’s easy to see in this analogy that sitting at one traffic light refusing to proceed until all the traffic lights in your path are green is an absurd way to drive. As we drive, we stop at red then proceed on green, going as far as we can toward our intended destination until we have to stop for another red light.
Yet, in life sometimes we behave like that confused driver, stopping at an obstacle and refusing to move forward until we can see all green lights ahead. Sometimes if we can’t see all the way to the solution of our dilemma, we are inhibited from even beginning to try to address the problem.
That is when it is critically important to take the first step. The simple act of taking the first step can make all the difference in finding the courage to proceed further as well as discovering that our mind is able to envision a range of possible solutions to the problem that we are facing.
In my office we often see that the first step for patients with chronic pain is calling our office. Making that call is often more difficult than it has to be. Patients may have been through various other treatments that haven’t brought good results and are tired of trying things that didn’t work. They may be harboring a fear that the treatments for their pain will be unbearably uncomfortable. They may worry that the cost will be more than they can afford.
In the patient’s mind, these worries and fears have become larger than the promise of relief. This keeps them from picking up the phone. When they actually call to schedule an appointment, they find that they can ask questions about all the things they are concerned about and usually discover that the things they feared are not obstacles at all.
This applies to facing any problem that may be challenging you today. If you have been facing this problem for months or years, it may be because you are waiting for all the lights to turn green before you put your foot on the gas.
It may be time for you to take the first step to seek help with a challenging problem by picking up the phone.
Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com