How to Analyze and Solve Worry Problems

Will the magic formula of Wills H Carrier described in earlier article to solve all worry problems? No of course not

Then what is the answer? The answer is that we must equip ourselves to deal with different kinds of worries by learning these three basic steps of problem analysis. The three steps are:

a) Get the facts

b) Analyse the facts

c) Arrive at a decision-and then act on that decision

Obvious stuff? Yes, Aristotle taught it-and used it and you I must use it too if we are going to solve the problems that are harassing us and turning our days and nights into veritable hells

Let’s take the first rule: Get the facts. Why is it so important to get the facts? Because unless we have the facts, we cannot possibly even attempt to solve our problems intelligently. Without the facts all we can do is stew around in confusion. My idea? No that was the idea of the late. Herbert E Hawkes dean of Columbia College University for 22 years. He had helped 200k students to solve their worry problems and he told me that “confusion is the chief cause of worry”. He put it this way he said: “Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which base a decision. For example,” he said, “If I have a problem which has to be faced at three o’clock next Tuesday. I refuse to even try to make a decision about it until next Tuesday arrives. In the meantime, I concentrate on getting the facts. And by the Tuesday rolls around If I’ve got all the facts the problem usually solves itself!”

I asked Dean Hawkes If this meant he had licked worry entirely. “Yes” he said “I think I can honestly say that my life is now almost totally devoid of worry. I have found, “he went on “that If a man will devote his time to securing facts in an impartial objective way his worries will unusually evaporate in the light of knowledge.”

Let me repeat that: “If a man will devote his time to securing facts in an impartial objective way his worries will usually evaporate in the light of knowledge

But what do most of us do? If we bother with facts at all — and Thomas Edison said in all seriousness, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the labour of thinking”-If we bother with facts at all we hunt like bird dogs after the facts at all we hunt like bird dogs after the facts that bolster up what we already think-and ignore all the others!!!We want only the facts that justify our acts –the facts that fit in the conveniently with our wishful thinking and justify our preconceived prejudices!

As Andre Maura’s put it: “Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not put into rage”

Is it any wonder than that we find it so hard to get the answers to our problems? Would not we have the same trouble trying to solve a second-grade arithmetic problem if we went ahead on the assumption that two plus two equals five? Let there a lot of people in this world who makes life a hell for themselves and other by insisting that two plus two equals five — or may be five hundred!!!

What can we do about it? We have to keep our emotions out of our thinking and as Ream Hawkes put it we must secure the facts in “an impartial objective” manner

This is not an easy task when we are worried. When we are worried our emotions are riding high. But here are two ideas that I have found helpful when trying to step aside from my problems, in order to see the facts in a clear objective manner

1When trying to get facts I pretend that I am collecting this information not for myself but for some other person. This helps me to take a cold impartial view of the evidence. This helps me eliminate my emotions

2 While trying to collect the facts about the problem that is worrying me, I sometimes pretend that I am a lawyer preparing to argue the other side of the issue. In other words, I try to get all the facts against myself — all the facts that are damaging to my wishes all the facts I don’t like to face

Then I write down both my side of the case and the other sides of the case — and I generally find that the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremities

Here is the point I am trying to make. Neither you nor I not Einstein not Supreme Court is brilliant enough to reach an intelligent decision on any problem without first getting the facts. Thomas Edison Knew that at the time of his death, he had 2500 notebooks filled with facts about the problem he was facing

So, Rule 1 for solving our problem is: Get the facts lets do what Dean Hawkes did: Let’s not even attempt to solve our problems without first collecting all the facts in an impartial manner

However, getting all the facts in the world won’t do as any good until we analyse them and interpret them

I have found from costly experience that it is much easier to analyse the facts after writing them down. In fact, merely writing the facts on a piece of paper and stating our problems already foes a long way forward helping us reach sensible decision. As Charles Kettering’s put it, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved”

Let me show you all this as it works out in proactive. Since the Chinese say one picture is worth 10k words suppose I you a picture of how one man puts exactly what we are talking about into concrete action

Let’s take the case of Fallen Litchfield — a man I have known for several years one of the most successful American businessmen in the Far East. Mr Litchfield was in China in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Shanghai. And here is his story as he told it to me while a quest in my home

“Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour Galen Littlefield began, “they came swarming into Shanghai’s was the manager of the Asia Life Insurance Company in Shangai.They sent us army liquidator — he was really an admiral — and gave me orders to assist this man in liquating our assists’ did not have any choice in the matter. I could cooperate -or else. And the or else was certain death

“I went through the motions of doing what I was told because I had no alternative. But there was one block of securities worth 750000 which I left off the list I gave to the admiral. I left that block of securities off the list because they belonged to our Hong Kong organisation and had nothing to do with the Shanghai assessable the same I feared I might be in hot water if the Japanese found out what I had done. And they soon found out

“I was not in the office when the discovery was made but my head accountant was there. He told me that the Japanese admiral flow into a rage and stamped and swore and called me a thief and traitor! I had defied the Japanese army! I knew what that meant. I would be thrown into the Bridge house!!!

“The bridge houses! The torture chamber of the Japanese Gestapo!! I had personal friends who had killed themselves rather than be taken to that prison. I had other friends who had died in that place after ten days of questioning and torture. Now I was slated for the Bridgehouse myself!!!

“What did I do? I heard that news on Sunday afternoon. I suppose I should have been terrified. And I would have been terrified if I had not had a definite technique for solving my problems. For years whenever I was worried, I had always gone to my typewrites and written down two questions and the answers to these questions:

1 What am I worrying about?

2 What can I do about it?

I used to try to answer those questions without writing them down. But I stopped that years ago. I found that writing down both the questions and the answers clarifies my thinking. So that Sunday afternoon I went directly to my room at the Shanghai YMCA and got my typewriter. I wrote:

1 What am I worrying about?

I am afraid I will be thrown into the Bridgehouse tomorrow morning

Then type out the second question

2 What can I do about it?

I spent hours thinking out and writing down the four courses of action I could take — and what the probable consequences of each action would be

1 I can try to explain to the Japanese admiral. But he does not speak English. If I try to explain to him through an interpreter, I may stir him up again. That might mean death for he is cruel would rather dump me in the Bridgehouse than bother lathing about it.

2 If can try to escape. Impossible. They keep track of me all the time. I have to check-in and out of my room at the YMCA.If try to escape I ‘ll probably be captured and shot

3 I can stay here in my room and not go near the office again. If I do the Japanese admiral will be suspicious will probably send soldiers to get me and throw me into Bridgehouse without giving me a chance to say a word

4 I can go down the office as usual on Monday morning. If I do there is chance that the Japanese admiral may be so busy that he will not think of what I did. Even if he does that think of it, he may cool off and may not bother me. if this happens, I am all right. Even if he does bother me, I’ll still have a chance to try to explain to him. So going down to the office as usual on Monday morning and acting as if nothing had gone wrong give me two chances to escape the Bridgehouse

“As soon as I thought it all out and decided to accept the fourth plan –to go down to the office as usual on Monday morning — I felt immensely relived.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store