Have you ever noticed it is so much easier to solve other people’s problems than your own? I was contemplating that fact the other day, wondering why it was so. My answer to myself (yes, I do talk to myself a lot) was something along the lines of, “D’uh! You eliminate the complicated parts!” Ah yes, the complicated parts like values and internal rules and inertia, and, of course, the living with the consequences! When asked what I think of a given situation, I know that I use myself as the one having to make the decision in similar circumstances. When it’s for someone else and I don’t have to live with the consequences, it is amazing how quickly I can formulate an answer and firmly believe I am right.
In speech, there was an H.L. Mencken quote that was way overused and completely accurate for this situation: For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
A while back Jon Acuff had a blog post entitled, “Why do Friends attack your dream,” in which he used the analogy of crabs in a bucket.
One crab will jump and reach the edge of the bucket and start pulling himself out, only to be dragged back down by one of his fellow captives. If the worked together, most of them could escape, but that isn’t what happens.
That reminded me of during the short window between when I decided to move to England and when I actually did. I was surprised that not everyone was as excited about my moving abroad, and many tried to talk me out of it.
The Acuff article said that this is not the results of what was said to friends and family members, but rather what they heard. Everything goes through a filter. When someone’s priorities are different than your own, instinctively we feel that either their priorities are wrong or that they are criticizing ours.
I’m not so sure I buy into all of that. I think most of the resistance I encountered was a response to something completely unexpected from me, especially at a time when I was quite vulnerable. If I were to tell people now that I was moving abroad, the reaction would be very supportive. It’s now in their heads that that is something I do.
Are all simple solutions to complex problems wrong? When have you had to change what other people expect from you?