How You Talk (or think) About Your Problems Can Make Things Worse!

As you already know, it is important to recognize a problem honestly before you can fix it.  No matter how offensive to your self-esteem, it has to be admitted first. The key issues around it, the causative factors can then be examined and rectified. Identify what you are getting that you don’t want, and what you are not getting that you do want. Then come up with a strategy, action plan, and resources to deal with it.

However, in both thinking about the problem and hashing it out with others, you can sometimes make matters worse. Why?

  • The Law of Attraction

This postulates that whatever you think about increases. If you focus on problems and the obstacles to deal with them, they grow bigger in size. This tends to drain your energy, making you depressed and feeling powerless or insufficient to deal with it. This can lead to procrastination and less likely to deal with it effectively, if at all.

But this principle also gives us the cure

  • Focus instead on solution or at least on a step in that direction. If you don’t know, ask

“How can I ___?”

 “If it could work, how would it work?”

  • Dwell on your desired end result with a belief or a decision that one way or another you are going to solve it.

fullsizeoutput_2cFor example, “There is a part of me knows how I can address this ___ (situation/problem), and that part is doing so now in a way in which I am really pleased.”

  • Do NOT identify with the problem

Whatever you say after the words “I am ___,” reinforces your identify with the problem. It is a message to your unconscious mind to continue to have it.

Here I take issue with Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups that starts off with a speaker giving his name and then saying “I’m an alcoholic.” It would be much better to say “I am clean and sober”(or “becoming”, “learning to be”, “committed to being”, “committed to staying clean and sober”) .

While it is vital to cut through the denial by admitting that you have a problem, it is also vital to detach your ego from it. Identify with your spiritual core, your positive strengths and essential worthiness. This is important because

You tend to act congruent with your identify. 

Mantras and affirmations can help. My favorite one is

“I’m a powerful, spiritual being endowed with dignity, direction and purpose.     I have something of value to offer.”

  • Do NOT associate or identify with other people who still have the same problem or are worse than you.

Another principle is the Law of Association. This states that you tend to become like the people with whom you associate. This happens on an unconscious level. You tend to perceive yourself similarly as them, and talk in ways that reinforce that image. Again, you will tend to act congruent with your identity.

In the therapy field,  this then becomes tricky because you want people who understand what you are dealing with, and you want the advice/guidance/encouragement of those that have worked through those problems.

But the key here is how much of your time is with people still stuck as opposed to being with positive role models — people that you admire and respect that either never had that problem or no longer have it.

If you are in a support group, identify with people that have overcome the problem or at least way further ahead than you are.

Also identify with those who do not need a support group because they do not have and never did have the problem and are living in a way that you admire and want for yourself. Always maintain a foothold in the world free of that issue. You are unconsciously affected by your associates.

After college, my first job was as a Caseworker with the City of New York. I felt that caseworkers should live among their clients so as to better understand/relate to them. So I moved to the edge of ‘my beat’–the slum in which my clients lived. However, after only a few months, I noticed that I had stopped seeing the ugliness around me. I was beginning to accept and expect to see the distortions from healthy living/thinking/being that were all around me. Because I saw that I was becoming negatively impacted, I had to move back to the suburbs where there was the beauty of nature and wholesome friends. It was from this place of balance that I could best help others.

Your unconscious mind will tap into whatever your close associates know: how they think, feel and act that makes them that way. This will help or hurt you depending upon who they are, their values, habits, etc. Identifying with others on your same or worse level of struggle will reinforce more of your same issues and a sense of being stuck as a victim, as someone never quite making it.

This is tricky if your primary friends and associates are all in a 12-Step program or support group. Truly healing and growing out of the need for such support then threatens you with loss of social network. While staying inside the group has the advantage of keeping you vigilant of traps, and it offers an valuable opportunity to help others, it can also keep some of the struggle alive by continuously focusing on struggle. In my opinion, there comes a time when people should move on.

  • Do NOT state the problem in the present tense 

Problems have to be stated in past tense, not present, or they reinforce the problem. Then the desired positive opposite must be verbalized in present tense.

For example, “I’ve had or been having a problem with____. And what I want now is ___ .”(the positive thing).

For example, a client may tell me that he is tense. If I ask him what he wants instead, he usually will reply that he wants to be not tense. Unfortunately, that still calls up an mental image of being tense and struggling against it. I then have to clarify that what he really wants is to be calm and relaxed and ask him to imagine that instead.

The mighty ‘yet’

When I have a client tell me “I can’t ___”, I reply with the word ‘yet.’ This implies that while they haven’t been able to do ___, it is only a matter of time before they figure it out. This is a very important point to remember. Think of all the things that you couldn’t do once upon a time –walk, talk, read, write, drive a bike and later a car, operate a computer — the list is endless. Some things you learned were easier than others. Some were hard, but you learned, perhaps even mastering the problem, nonetheless. All it takes is a decision–making it a priority to do it.

Other possible solutions

  • Respond to a problem as if it is an interesting, exciting challenge and commit to solving it. Make a decision to do so.
  • Respond with a sense of wonder about causation or solution:
    • “I wonder why ___ happens?”
    • “I wonder what caused this?”
    • “I wonder if I ____ , if that would be helpful?”
    • “What could I have done differently to have gotten a better result?”
    • “What positive things can I learn from this so I experience ____ instead?”
    • “How would ____ (your positive role model) handle this?”
    • “Can I set up a strategy or protocol that would help me to get what I want instead?”
    • Or, my favorite, “If it could work, how would it work?”

The moment you translate a problem into a puzzle or interesting challenge, you will be energized instead of depleted. This can lead to a  search that brings vitality and meaning to your life that benefits the world with new inventions, therapies, strategies, etc.



If you want to know how the unconscious mind works and the many “laws of mind”, or you want to learn how to say things in a way that can only be helpful and only helpful both for yourself and others, read Your Unlimited Potential, a complete self-hypnosis book and introduction to professional hypnotherapy. This is critically important information for everyone. Learn to use your mind and the power of suggestion to make life go smoother!

Copyright 2015, but updated 6/2018 by Roxanne Louise. This article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to and  are included with the content.




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