How Do I Address “Small” Problems When I Have One “BIG” Problem?

How Do I Address “Small” Problems When I Have One “BIG” Problem?

We’ve all been here before. You are trying to go through a personal transition to better yourself, the world around you, and your overall well-being. Of course, this can be a mountain of a task – especially when you’ve got one major problem in the way that makes it difficult to tackle the pile of small problems slowing you down.

It’s something every therapist has heard from a client before – “I’m not really worried about that right now because I have ‘bigger fish to fry.’” In some moments, we may be forced to address a big problem and put other smaller problems on the back burner. That’s life and to deny that would be to dismiss reality. But it’s important to not dismiss those small problems entirely or neglect them completely unless, of course, you’re willing to let those small problems become yet another big problem on your plate.

We want to walk with you on this journey to prioritizing problems of all sizes to make sure your personal transition isn’t stopped in its tracks just because of an overload of challenges, big and small. For this exercise, we’ll look through the lens of a scenario where you have a 10-page thesis paper due in 48 hours and can’t handle the workload of additional assignments. Life happens to mimic our school days quite closely.

Where Do I Start?

You’re staring at your task list. You see that huge 10-page paper that you haven’t even started due soon and have an additional list of assignments piling up right next to it. How do you make progress when there’s just an overload of work right now and your mind can’t get going?

Well, if you truly had a list to look at you’ve already started your journey to solving your problems. Identifying your problems and physically listing them out (whether on paper or digitally) is an amazing way to give your problems a tangible overview. A lot of people struggle to get to this point because they just don’t know why there’s a feeling of being overwhelmed. Creating a physical list for yourself to address can be a great way to give yourself a visual and face your problems in a more tangible way.

How Do I Prioritize?

You have a list and know where your issues lie. That’s great, but it’s not the end. You don’t know quite how to determine what to start with. Some people say you should dive into the 10-page paper right away so you don’t drown at the deadline and others say you should check off all these little tasks first so you don’t feel overwhelmed when the time comes to do the paper. Who is right?

The truth lies in your own experiences. You may already know the answer, but you also may not have worked it out, either. There’s nothing wrong with this. If you’ve already tried prioritizing small items first and still couldn’t get over your biggest issues then maybe try the reverse. Maybe you can even turn your entire list into “small” issues by breaking up the biggest issues into smaller benchmarks to be checked off. After all, the serotonin release from checking an item off a to-do list can be wonderful (maybe even reward yourself with a treat everytime you check something off the list). Prioritization is about finding what works for you and applying that – and also understanding that what worked last time might not necessarily be what works this time!

Ask for Help

You’ve made the list. You’ve tried to dive in. You’re still hitting a wall. Now what? Talk to somebody! Ultimately, a third party or even someone directly involved may have the answers you’re looking for that helps you break the dam and get on with your life.

Maybe you need to talk to the educator who assigned you the paper and ask for an extended deadline. Maybe you need to talk to the educators who gave you the other small assignments and ask if they can be delayed or whether or not they’re imperative to your learning experience. The people around you can be resources to tap into answers you didn’t know were possible until you asked.

Of course, we’re not an educational institution or here to help you with your homework. No, at Integrated Therapies, we’re about breaking through to personal transition and growth. Strip down this exercise and think about it in a different way – you’re dealing with the loss of a dear loved one but still need to balance your family life and job.

A list of your tasks in life right now could help you get an idea of what you need to get done to get through each day. Prioritizing those issues could help you get your mind off that big problem of losing a loved one until you have the capacity to breathe and pay them the respect they deserve. Talking to someone can help you get the burden of loss off your shoulders and look at their loss in a new way.

Your smallest problems can spitball into bigger problems, manifesting in destructive behaviors that impact your mental health and, eventually, take a physical toll on your body. We don’t want you to get lost in the shuffle of life and the biggest challenges of today or tomorrow. Contact us and let us walk with you on this journey to overcome what’s getting in the way of your transition.