How to Solve Your Most Persistent Problems
3 min read

How to Solve Your Most Persistent Problems

A warrior on a mountain top looking at a stone labyrinth before him.

Do you wonder why your bad habits, unhealthy behaviors, and annoying quirks keep creeping back into your life despite all your efforts to the contrary?

I used to wonder about this, too.

When I struggled with my gaming addiction, perfectionism, and avoidance I did my best to overcome them.

I uninstalled the games I played, set myself micro-goals that should have been easy to complete, and tried to force myself to do the things I avoided. But, no matter how hard I tried, my struggles eventually returned and left me even more confused about how I could overcome them.

Amidst my confusion and frustration, I began asking myself questions like: "Why now?", "Why again?" "Why did this one solution I bet on fail so spectacularly?"

For years, I struggled to find satisfying answers to these questions.

From Confusion to Clarity

But, when I started to look within and embraced the adventure of understanding myself, I began to find answers.

The first few I've found weren't very helpful. They were too generic or only applicable to a surface level sympton. But the deeper I dug, the more satisfying and helpful answers I unearthed. Eventually, I found the ones that helped me solve my problems for good.

For example, I learned that gaming was filling a void of meaning, connection, and achievement that emerged early in my life. I learned that my perfectionism was an attempt to protect myself from unfavorable judgment and that my avoidance was a direct response to my fear of failure.

When I understood these reasons behind my problems, I was able to tackle them much more efficiently than before.

Whereas before I had followed generic advice I've found on the internet, I was now able to look for much more specific advice based on my new understanding. It allowed me to experiment with potential solutions that fit my personality a lot better than the generic advice I tried to follow before. It turned out, that these solutions had a much higher success rate than all the ones I had tried before.

By applying the lessons I've learned from these solutions I either overcame my problems or contained them in a way that made their effects much less severe.

The Power of Understanding Yourself

From these experiences, I learned that understanding yourself deeply is often the best way to solve your most persistent problems.

The better you understand yourself, the easier you can identify the deeper problems behind your surface-level behavior. Then, you can use these insights to seek out or create much more specific solutions that have a higher likelihood of working than by following generic advice. Only by understanding yourself can you reliably identify the solutions that work best for you.

Every other approach of trying to solve your problems is like fishing in the dark while you hope to randomly catch the one solution that will finally solve your problem. That's certainly possible, but it's not a reliable way with which you can create the life you want.

So, if you have a problem that doesn't go away despite your best efforts it's often time to stop trying to fix it, stop blaming others, and stop avoiding it.

Instead, you can sit down and genuinely try to understand it at a deeper level. Why does it exist? What need does it fill? When does it emerge?

Problems as Opportunities

The more you do this, the more you'll start to see problems as opportunities.

You realize that by understanding them you can solve them systematically. As soon, as you deeply realize this, the problems that besieged you for a long time lose some of their power. And the more often you solve them by understanding them, the more power they lose until you'll rarely be afraid of problems anymore.

But, that's a topic for another letter.


You have problems that seem unsolvable. Despite your best efforts, they reappear time and time again.

If this happens to you, it's often fruitless to blindly apply generic solutions and hope they'll finally rid you of your problems. Their success chance is just way too low for this approach to work.

Instead, you can strive to understand them deeply. You will often find that you can solve them that way. If you understand them, you'll know which approaches will likely have the highest chance of solving them. Then you can experiment with different approaches until you find the one that solves your problem for good.

This doesn't mean that every solution you try will work immediately. That's unrealistic. But, it means that every solution you try based on a deep understanding of your problem has a much higher chance of working than adhering to generic advice.

In this way, understanding yourself solves the problems that seem unsolvable.

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