Put Down the Brick

When it comes to personal problems, they can sometimes control our feelings to the point that the actual problems seem bigger or more complicated than they really are. One way to deal with a problem is to be meta-aware of it. That means recognizing the usually subconscious influence the problem is having on us, then separating the actual problem from our feelings. This gives us a clearer head for dealing with the problem. Here’s a great story about a psychology teacher who teaches this point to his high school students:

The professor began his class by holding up a brick. He said, “This brick weighs two kilos. What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”

The students were quiet, waiting for the trick. Finally, one said, “Nothing?”

The professor nodded. “Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?” he asked.

“Your arm would ache,” said the student, joking. “Your arm would go numb,” said another. “You’d probably drop the brick on your foot,” laughed a third.

“Very good. But why? Did the brick become heavier?” Asked the professor.
“No,” the students said. “It was your muscles that grew tired. The brick never changed.”

The professor continued. “What can I do to stop the pain?”

“Put the brick down!” said the students, laughing.

“Exactly!” said the professor. “Now, imagine this brick is a personal problem.” He gave them a moment to consider. “If I hold onto it for a few minutes, life seems barely interrupted. But if I hold onto the problem for a long time, my feelings begin to ache. Hold it even longer, I can go numb and feel like I’m losing control.

“It’s important to be aware of the way problems affect you in life. By being more aware that a problem is a thing, like this brick, and your feelings are like your arm that can grow fatigued and out of control, the more you will be able to separate the two and find solutions.”

So folks—next time you have a problem, remember to put down the brick!

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