Outgrowing Our Problems

At our best, we don’t so much solve our problems as outgrow them. We add capacities and experiences that eventually make us triumphant over many of them.

An example: the luckiest of us sustain few losses early in life. With time the balance begins to shift, often with the departure of friends, but most of us can discover and recover the ability to flourish.

We persist. Moreover, according to Spinoza, the drive to persist appears to be built into us — part of our essence.

Those who understand the conditions of human existence realize tests of our competencies don’t end. These require the development of self-assertion, controlling our emotions, discovering how to persuade others, making and sustaining friendships, and giving up the dependence on defenders because we believe ourselves incapable of self-defense.

The unhappiness following disappointment and loss can stop us if we allow it to become a permanent limitation.

Life gives us many challenges and chances to learn from such situations. Backing off as a strategy invites severe consequences. The problem dominates us, and the impediment grows. The failure and trepidation wait for us to find the bravery inside. They are supremely patient.

If we reach the point of taking on that which defeats us, the dilemma recedes. The Goliath-like stumbling block shrinks, and our strengths increase.

We have grown out of the trouble, taken confidence from victory over the internal issue, and moved on to greater assurance in the capacity to master what comes next. Life may begin to appear less threatening.

Our scope has widened. We are no longer children competing with older kids or adults or humans confronting imaginary giants. Thanks to self-enlargement, our vision might even recognize happiness in the distance or present.

People have no choice but to make peace with life’s demands. Acceptance, gratitude, and the necessity of action are fundamental. Knowing when each of these fits the moment is essential.

The demons within exist side by side with the knowledge to surpass them, awaiting our discovery.

Success needn’t be defined as the acclaim of a crowd. Owning shortcomings and facing what we must do to overcome them achieves self-generated wealth in human, not financial terms: a gift we earn ourselves.


The photo called Happiness is Wellness is the work of GiftedLydia and sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

12 thoughts on “Outgrowing Our Problems

  1. I really like the expression — self-generated wealth. I’m finding that aging, along with health issues, is cramping my style, making me slow down. At the same time, though, I’m starting to appreciate this quieter aspect of life. It feels like I may be learning how to achieve a “self-generated wealth.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wonderful, Lois. You were in my thoughts as I wrote this. I sometimes think of particular people as the topics involve them. I think strengths such as you demonstrate become even more necessary as life moves past the midpoint. Mortality comes near but also, in a strange way, a more matter-of-fact idea, not to deny the devastation of losing those closest to us. To me, it is a very curious change in attitude. Be well and keep mining for “self-generated wealth.”

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for another wonderful post, Dr. S! I like the positivity you bring here. Time and experience teach and heal, it seems. But so do many people like you who help enlighten those in need. 🙂

    Aging is tough though. Society seems to tell us one (negative) story, whereas psychology tells us another (more positive story). To see our youthful energy, our health, our skin, and even our hair change drastically becomes shocking as we change – almost overnight it seems, at least in middle age. I’m not sure what it’s like when you’ve finally accepted old-age status from the puberty-like middle-age phase, but I’m hoping it gets better. How physiological things like illnesses, mobility problems, and even aesthetics affect our mental health are important, too. It’s hard to remain positive when you’re in pain, constant mood swings, constant bodily temp changes, and other negative physiological changes (and/or disabilities, disorders, syndromes, illnesses, etc.). Such constitutes many losses, and the grief itself can be overwhelming. Careers and resulting finances are lost for some of the aging, for example (e.g., those who were models, actors, in the military, in law enforcement, in fire, in construction, and other careers requiring physiological strength and/or physiological attractiveness).

    General feelings of overall well-being and a better quality of life are lost for some who were otherwise living a very active lifestyle – serves as another example. For some, their grief and loss issues regarding aging are tantamount to bereavement – only, they are missing things and even relationships from their own lives. For instance, when I had more energy, I could make friends more easily. I could make plans and stick to them. However, when chronic fatigue and other physiologically disabling issues set in, I had to cancel plans and/or move much more slowly than my (now former) friends could tolerate. Not only did I lose my health and overall sense of well-being, I also lost my quality of life when I started to lose friends from the energy and health I had also lost. Athletes, I’m sure, experience similar grief-and-loss issues, as they age.

    I think it’s the experience of transitions from one lifestyle to the next that help the psychological QoL factors. If some of your friends are able to accept your changes and work with them – albeit with limitations in the relationship, then not all is lost. And if society gets better at inclusion, diversity appreciation, and equity, then that would help with such physiological transitions as well. Although individual responsibility is important to help boost our optimism, societal responsibility factors in to our overall QoL as well, which includes our mental health. If only society would value the aging and all the physiological comorbidities that come with (such as obesity, diabetes, health problems, and even certain mental illnesses and/or neurological issues), then perhaps life wouldn’t feel so threatening to all of us who eventually age.

    Positivity will only get us so far, but society must also put in the work to make resources more available to the aging and disabled. “Happiness” is a really tough term to define, and it’s an even tougher construct to change (for the better). It’s hard to increase happiness when there are so much negative external stimuli that knock us down. I see the benefits to being individually responsible to be positive, but I also see the benefits of being optimistically pessimistic, too (such as warning us of danger, finding ways to prolong our lives when society wants to basically ignore our needs to access of certain life-sustaining resources, etc.). It’s a strange balance for some of us, it seems. And a lack of research on medical traumas and racial traumas mean that minorities (by age, disability, and/or race/ethnicity) will suffer the most because they don’t know how to deal with their perceived and real traumas that society has brought about – without any true solutions to help reduce such anxieties. I think of this pandemic as an example of how society’s biases against the overweight, the obese, those with diabetes, those who are older, and the many comorbidities that minorities have because there’s a correlation between things like diabetes and PTSD, diabetes and ACEs, etc. It’s not always individual responsibility, in my humble opinion. But I do agree that being positive will help improve our QoL. It’s just tough to be positive and expect society to be positive with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your always thoughtful comments, Dragon Fly. I think expecting responsibility to be taken by society is not a great bet right now, no matter the appropriateness of society’s concern and attention.

      What I was getting at was to control the part of the world in your hands — the part we control as individuals. That is something where our chances are better and there is reason for optimism. You have demonstrated the ability to do this in a number of areas of your life, so the capacity remains inside you, even if it is not as robust in some ways.

      One of the factors I have found personally suprising in my own journey through aging is that some things you lose begin to matter less to you. Not because you’ve lost them, but because aging has changed you in such a way as to permit more tolerance and acceptance of these losses.

      You may yet discover the terms of life become more acceptable, at least in small ways. I hope so. Good luck.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Dr. S. I’m in my late-40s, so I’m dealing with many transitions – some of which seem very abrupt. I’m also dealing with many losses – mostly due to health concerns, but some due to mental health as well. I hope I can remain positive. It’s getting harder and harder to these days though (at least for me).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Dragon Fly. I know of no one who is always positive unless they are delusional. The world is difficult — sometimes brutal, sometimes wonderful. Gerda Weissmann Klein was young and strong, had terrific family support, and also considered suicide during her incarceration. She’d have done it, but for her strength and the promise she made to her father never to do that. Some of those who didn’t survive were every bit her equal on every level, including psychological, physical, and internal strengths, and simply weren’t as lucky. You should hold no shame at not being constantly positive. However, that you have persisted speaks to remarkable qualities still within you. Be well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for replying, Dr. Stein! I will need to catch up with all the blog posts and responses soon. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long! Thank you so much for your uplifting replies and explanations! They really do help me! 🙂


  3. A beautiful and insightful post, Dr. Stein. I really like this section:
    “If we reach the point of taking on that which defeats us, the dilemma recedes. The Goliath-like stumbling block shrinks, and our strengths increase.

    We have grown out of the trouble, taken confidence from victory over the internal issue, and moved on to greater assurance in the capacity to master what comes next. Life may begin to appear less threatening.”

    And like Lois, I love the term self-generated wealth. Indeed!

    Thanks for the inspiring and encouraging post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brilliantly stated❤️🌈

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your praise, Gracefuladdict. Having read some of your backstory, I am sure you have grown a great deal. Keep going and keep growing!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am glad to help, especially one such as you, Rosaliene.


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