When faced with a big problem, we can do one of two things: plunge ahead to fix it or ignore it. Many times, it’s the right thing to immediately jump in and take care of an issue, most especially when our safety and security are at risk. But it’s rare that any situation will benefit from ignoring it.
There is, however, a middle ground that can be very constructive.
I’ve written about the importance of addressing a conflict but sometimes putting the “pause” button on a problem is smart. When we get overwhelmed with a situation, taking time to assess it, think it through, gives us perspective on how to approach it.
Grace surprised me yesterday morning when we went out to survey the avalanche of ice that had fallen from the roof the previous night. While I marveled at the area, Grace wasn’t interested in all, which was unusual because anything out-of-place in her surroundings brings out concern in her. Why not this, I wondered?
I can’t know for sure why she decided to ignore the massive ice blocks that could have caused her bodily harm if she had been in the area when they fell, but she did. This is a dog that barks nervously at a leaf blowing in the wind, so her silent treatment was very unusual for her. Did she decide to wait and see if these ice blocks would present a threat? Perhaps she literally iced the topic in her mind. When we have an achy bruise or sprain on our body, applying ice for short intervals is an effective treatment. The ice allows the body to chill, so to speak, easing the pain and allowing damaged parts to settle down. That ‘wind down’ time can be a great stress management tool.
When you are faced with an overwhelming problem, what is your tendency? Do you dive straight in and start to fix it, ignore it, or take your time to assess it before getting stressed? Do you see a pattern in the way you react? Could you be more effective with a different approach? What steps would help you decide which route to take?
Next time you feel overwhelmed, take a hint from Grace and ice it.