Bob Denny: Changing problems into opportunities


Published: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 4, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

I was expecting another fastball, not that change-up slow pitch. Struck out again, darn it! Shall I take that leap from the cliff with my friends? The water’s deep enough; what can happen? (Ended up with two broken front teeth.)

Should I stay in this stressful job? The future is uncertain.(I stayed too long, but when I quit I found the career of my dreams.) In spite of the unbroken center line, do I have time to pass? (Some poor choices can be deadly!) Shall I go back to school?

It’s easy to drift through life, not paying attention or recognizing the situation we’re in. Or, we could become sensitive, and notice when we’re given opportunities to make life-changing choices. If we can learn to identify situations early, and see them as opportunities instead of problems, we’ve taken the first step in taking charge of our own lives and building the life we want for ourselves. I think it took me about half of my life to learn this principle.

How can we do that? When a situation comes up that you recognize as a “problem,” make a choice to see it an opportunity instead.Then you can take advantage of the many opportunities that life presents us with. Thinking like that could help you to ask some of these questions:

* How about if I see my life as a story? What’s my quest, or my destiny? Where can I go from here?

* Am I missing some signals that I’m at a crossroads? Do I feel any frustration, confusion, stress, impatience, anger, or fear? These feelings can alert me to a branch in the railroad of my life. Could I throw the switch, and choose a new direction?

* What choices do I see? I’ll list choices, and the pros and cons. Is there an escape button or an ejection seat? Can I change my mind, or is this a firm commitment? What if I’m wrong — what are the consequences? What are my responsibilities to others who care about me?

When you decide to take that other path, go for it. Then list some goal steps you need to take, and log them on your calendar.

What benefits can I expect? That depends on how well you made your choice. Were you motivated by the desire for happiness, fulfillment, success, purpose, and to do what’s right? If you’re driven by positive moral values, you’re well on the road to a better life.

You can do it — it’s time to get started. Watch for life’s switches, signals and sidetracks. You may find some great opportunities.

Bob Denny is a licensed mental health therapist in Florida who teaches psychology and human growth and development at Florida Gateway College.

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