How to solve a problem
To solve a problem you have to find its cause and fix it. If you can’t find the cause you will mistake its symptoms for the problem. You will try to solve the problem by fixing the symptoms. This will not permanently solve the problem. For example, if Youtube goes offline, it will not load on your computer. In this problem, Youtube not loading is a symptom, the cause is Youtube going offline. If you can’t find out that Youtube is offline, you will think that Youtube not loading on your computer is the problem. You might solve the problem by changing your computer. But it will not be a permanent solution. Even if Youtube loads on the new computer because it came back online, the problem will reoccur in the future. The correct solution is to wait for Youtube to come back online. It will be a permanent solution. The only way to solve a problem permanently is to find its cause.
How to find the cause of a problem?
To find the cause of a problem you have to use the symptoms to trace back to the cause. To do that you need knowledge of the system in which the problem exists. This knowledge will provide you with the cause and effect relationships of different parts of the system. With this knowledge, you can trace back the cause of a problem from the symptoms. For example, if you have knowledge of how computers and websites work, you will know that computers and websites are different entities which communicate through the internet. With this knowledge, you can deduce that if Youtube is not loading in your computer it is either a problem with your computer, the internet or the Youtube website. If other websites load on your computer, you can rule out your computer and internet as the cause of the problem. You can then deduce that the cause of the problem is the Youtube website.
When are problems tough?
Problems seem tough when you lack knowledge of the systems in which they exist. For example, you might struggle to solve petty conflicts with your wife. You might struggle to retain employees in your organisation. You struggle to solve these problems because you can’t find their cause. You can’t find their cause because you don’t know how marriages and organisations work.
How to gain knowledge of systems?
Many systems do not have manuals. You have to understand them by yourself, especially, systems that involve people. You have to understand them through experience by observing patterns.
You have a natural ability to learn from experience. When you were a child you learned everything from experience. For example, you learned your native language through experience. You didn’t memorise grammar rules but picked them up from experience. Similarly, you learned to walk from experience. You never needed a manual. You learned by seeing patterns. You learnt grammar by repeatedly seeing others use it. You learned to walk by seeing others walk.
But you lose this ability to learn once you grow up. This happens because you become insecure. As an adult, you are responsible for your wellness, and this scares you. Due to this, you become chronically insecure about your wellness. You start seeing every system as a tool to help your wellness. You become attached to these systems in an attempt to ensure your wellness. You become attached to systems which involve money, status, materials and people. You become attached to your marriage and your organisation. Once you are attached to a system you lose your ability to understand it. You lose your ability to observe patterns in it.
How does attachment affect your ability to see patterns?
When you are attached to a system you start worrying about its wellness. This happens because you correlate your wellness with the wellness of the system. Your worry about the wellness of the system will contaminate your observation of the system. Every observation of the system will trigger an emotional reaction in you. This emotion will unsettle you. You will focus on the emotion and not the observation. As a result, you never truly observe the system. For example, when you are attached to your marriage, each conflict with your wife will have an emotional effect on you. Whenever a conflict occurs you will focus on ending the conflict. In the hurry, you will miss the subtle reasons behind the conflict. For example, your marriage might have conflicts because your wife resents your lack of self-respect. You will see this pattern when you see conflicts arising from your excessive attempts to please her.
How to detach from a system?
To detach from a system you need confidence. Confidence is the faith you have in yourself. When you have confidence, you trust yourself to handle unseen adversities in life. You don’t worry about your wellness due to your confidence. Consequently, you don’t worry about the wellness of systems. So you are detached from them. Observations of systems will still create emotional reactions in you but your confidence will prevent these emotions from unsettling you. You will be able to truly observe a system. You can see patterns and understand how it works.
Overconfidence will limit your understanding of a system even when you are detached from it. Systems change in time and you need to update your understanding as it changes. When you are over-confident you will be reluctant to update your understanding.
Over-confidence stems from a lack of self-awareness. When you are overconfident, you get too involved in your thoughts. Because you are lost in your thoughts, you miss your reluctance to update your understanding. To stop being overconfident, you just need to be self-aware. When you are self-aware, you will become aware of your reluctance, and can consciously stop it. Since you are confident you will be able to stop it easily as you don’t feel bad for having to update your wrong understanding. You don’t mind being wrong.
Everyone has an innate ability to be self-aware. But most people lose their self-awareness easily. This happens because they get lost in their thoughts. To build self-awareness, you need to stop overthinking. To stop overthinking, you need to be comfortable not having clarity. You should be comfortable with not having all the answers. This comfort is the essence of maturity. With maturity, you realize that you can never have a true understanding of any system. There is no guarantee that the patterns you see are true. You can only strive to be less wrong. This realization will make you humble.