How to Stop Running Away From Difficult Problems (19 Ways)

Facing challenging situations head-on isn’t always our first reaction. Many times, it feels easier to just turn around and run the other way. But deep down, we know that’s not solving anything. It’s like pressing “snooze” on your alarm clock. Sooner or later, you have to get up. 

This article offers simple, proven tips—from breaking down problems into manageable pieces to finding strength in support from friends and family —to help you face challenges and unlock your full potential. Let’s dive in!

Reasons Why We Run Away From From Difficult Problems

Before diving into how to face our problems, let’s first understand why we often choose to run away from them. Understanding these reasons is important in setting the stage for us to move from avoidance to action.

Here are some reasons why we try to dodge the hard stuff:

  1. Fear of failure: We may fear the sting of not succeeding and the judgment that might follow.
  2. Lack of confidence: Doubting our abilities can paralyze us from even attempting to tackle the problem.
  3. Desire for comfort: We naturally want to stay in our safe zone, where there’s no risk of discomfort.
  4. Procrastination: Delaying action is often an instinctive reaction, hoping the problem might disappear on its own.
  5. Overwhelm: Feeling swamped and unsure where to begin can cause us to freeze instead of act.

Now that we’re familiar with these hurdles, let’s explore ways to stop running and start facing our problems head-on:

Acknowledge the Fear

Facing problems can feel like being in a dark room, searching for a light switch. The first step, acknowledging the fear, is admitting you’re in that dark room and deciding to find the light. 

It’s okay to feel scared or anxious about the unknown. This acknowledgment doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. Everyone faces fear, but the brave ones admit it and decide to move forward anyway.

By acknowledging your fear, you take away some of its power over you. This step doesn’t solve the problem but sets the stage for the strategies and actions that will.

For instance, imagine you’re afraid of speaking in public. The first step isn’t to jump on a stage; it’s acknowledging that fear. You recognize the butterflies in your stomach and the sweaty palms, but you don’t let them stop you. 

You say to yourself, “Yes, I’m scared of speaking in public, but I want to overcome this.”

Understand What’s Within Your Control

Have you ever worried about things you can’t change? It’s like trying to stop the rain. Pointless, isn’t it? Now, think about the problems you’re facing. Are all parts of the problem really in your hands? The key to not feeling overwhelmed is to sort what you can control from what you can’t.

Here’s how to do this:

  • Identify what you can control: This might include your effort, attitude, and how you respond to challenges.
  • Let go of what you can’t control: This often involves external events, other people’s actions, or the overall outcome of a situation.

This visualization helps you focus your energy on areas where you can actually make a difference. For example, you can’t control the economy, but you can control how you manage your budget. Concentrate on actions you can take, like learning new skills or asking for help.

Once you understand that some things are out of your reach, your mind becomes clearer. You stop beating yourself up for not being able to do the impossible. This frees up mental space and energy to focus on the actions you can take to solve the problems within your reach.

Break the Problem Into Smaller Steps

A huge problem can feel as tall as a mountain. Trying to tackle it in one go can seem impossible. The trick is to break it down into smaller, more manageable parts.

For instance, you’re drowning in debt. The problem feels huge, but you can:

  1. Start with making a budget.
  2. The next step could be setting up a savings plan.
  3. Then, look for ways to reduce expenses or increase your income.

Each step moves you closer to the peak of your problem mountain, but you’re taking it one hike at a time. Don’t expect to leap to the top in one jump. Progress might be slow, and that’s okay. Remember, even the greatest journeys begin with a single step.

Create a Problem-Solving Plan

Once you’ve broken down your problem into bite-sized pieces, it’s time to create your roadmap for tackling each part – that’s your problem-solving plan. Think of it as your personal GPS that guides you through the twists and turns of any challenge. 

Here’s how you can create a simple problem-solving plan:

  1. Define the problem clearly. Know exactly what you’re dealing with.
  2. List possible solutions. Think of all the ways you could solve this problem.
  3. Evaluate and choose the best solution. Look at your list and pick the most practical option.
  4. Make a step-by-step plan to carry out your solution. Break down your chosen solution into manageable steps.
  5. Act on your plan and watch how it unfolds. Take action and adjust your plan as needed based on the results.

Remember, good plans shape good decisions. When you’re clear about what you should be doing, uncertainty is replaced with focus.

Set Realistic Goals

Dreaming big is great, but when we talk about tackling problems, we need to anchor our dreams in reality. Setting goals should be like planting a garden. You wouldn’t just throw random seeds and hope for the best. You’d plan what you want to grow, plant the seeds in the right place, and give them the care they need.

A realistic goal meets three criteria:

  • Achievable – It’s something you can realistically accomplish.
  • Measurable – You can track your progress toward it.
  • Time-bound – It has a deadline.

For example, if you want to improve your fitness, a realistic goal might be to start by walking 30 minutes a day, three times a week. As you build your stamina, you could gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts. 

If you overshoot and set goals too high, you might end up disappointed. Keep your goals within reach, and with each one you achieve, you’ll build the confidence to set the next one a little higher.

Practice Mindfulness and Stay Present

In a loud and busy world, being present is like finding a quiet spot in a crowded city. It’s about paying attention to the here and now, not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. Practicing mindfulness can be a simple yet profound way to engage with your problems without being overwhelmed by them.

Here’s how you can start:

  • Take deep breaths: Focus on your breathing. It helps calm the mind.
  • Observe: Notice what you feel, hear, and see without judgment.
  • Accept: Recognize how you feel and that feeling that way is okay.

Keeping your mind anchored in the present moment allows you to face problems with clarity and poise. When practicing mindfulness, you’ll often find peace in acceptance, knowing that no matter the issue at hand, you’re fully capable of dealing with it one moment at a time.

Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Develop a Positive Mindset

Cultivating a positive mindset is not about ignoring the negative or pretending everything is perfect—it’s about focusing on the positive aspects that motivate you. Not every day is good, but there is something good every day.

Begin by recognizing and challenging negative thoughts. When a negative thought enters your mind, confront it with a positive one. For example, if you think, “I can’t do this,” counteract with, “I will do the best I can.” This shift doesn’t happen overnight, but positive thinking becomes a habit over time.

It may also help to surround yourself with positivity. This could be inspirational quotes on your wall, a playlist of uplifting music, or friends who encourage you. A positive environment reinforces a positive mindset, making it easier to face challenges with a can-do attitude.

Embrace Challenges as Growth Opportunities

Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth helps you view obstacles in a different light. They become chances to learn and improve rather than insurmountable barriers.

When you run into difficulty, try to see the potential for growth. Ask yourself:

  • What can this situation teach me?
  • How can I use this experience to become stronger?

Avoid the temptation to dwell on how hard things are. Instead, focus on how this challenge can contribute to your growth. Just like exercise strengthens muscles, overcoming challenges builds resilience and character.

Learn From Past Mistakes

No one’s journey is free from missteps, and the wisest among us are those who use their past mistakes as lessons, not regrets. Reflect on what went wrong in the past and what you learned from it. Each mistake is a lesson in disguise, a signpost on your path to success.

Consider keeping a “lesson log“—a simple journal where you write down:

  • The mistake you made
  • What you learned from it
  • How you can avoid it in the future

Reflecting on these points helps prevent the same slip-ups and guides you toward better decisions. And remember, making mistakes is part of being human; it’s what you do with those experiences that truly matters.

Practice Self-compassion

Being kind to oneself is not a luxury; it’s a necessary part of facing life’s challenges. Self-compassion means treating yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a good friend. It involves recognizing that imperfection, failure, and difficulties are parts of life, and it’s okay to be not okay at times.

To practice self-compassion, you can:

  1. Start by forgiving yourself for past errors. Remember, everyone stumbles. What’s important is that you’re trying to move forward. 
  2. Speak to yourself with gentle words, and give yourself permission to rest when needed. Taking care of your well-being isn’t selfish; it’s smart.

Seek Support From Friends or Family

We’re social creatures and support from those around us can be as comforting as a warm blanket on a chilly night. Reaching out to friends or family isn’t a sign of weakness but a step in harnessing collective strength. 

There’s no set formula for seeking support because every relationship is unique. However, simply catching up over a cup of coffee, having a heartfelt conversation, or even sharing a laugh can be incredibly uplifting.

Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to, the people who care about you can offer:

  • Encouragement
  • Different perspectives on your problems
  • Practical help or advice

Use Stress Management Techniques

Stress can be like background noise—sometimes, you don’t notice how loud it’s gotten until you take a moment to be silent. Stress management is your volume knob.

There are many techniques to manage stress, but here are three effective methods:

  • Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths to calm your nervous system.
  • Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, helping you feel better emotionally.
  • Routine: Establishing regular habits can provide a sense of order and control.

Remember, managing stress isn’t a one-time fix; it’s an ongoing process that can lead to a more calm and controlled way of living.

Keep a Journal to Reflect on Your Thoughts and Feelings

Journaling is akin to having a conversation with your inner self. It’s a space where you can express your thoughts and feelings openly, without judgment. The act of writing enables you to untangle complex emotions and gain clarity on what’s really bothering you.

Making journaling a part of your daily ritual allows you to keep track of your progress and personal growth. Sometimes, flipping through past entries can offer insight into how far you’ve come and the hurdles you’ve overcome.

Celebrate Small Successes

Little wins pave the way to bigger victories. In the face of a challenge, every small step forward is worth celebrating. It’s like cheering for every milestone on a long road trip—each one brings you closer to your destination.

Whether you’ve managed to take a step you were dreading or you’ve overcome a small part of the problem, give yourself credit. These small accolades could be:

  • Taking a moment to acknowledge your effort
  • Sharing the victory with a friend or loved one
  • Treating yourself to something you enjoy

Acknowledging your small wins boosts your morale, propels you forward, and reminds you that progress, no matter how tiny, is still progress.

Limit Negative Self-talk

How you talk to yourself can make or break your day. Being too hard on yourself can prevent you from finding solutions to problems. But, if you change your inner voice to be more positive, it can help you tackle challenges with a fresh perspective.

Here’s a simple exercise to shift your self-talk:

  1. Catch it: Notice when you’re being self-critical.
  2. Challenge it: Ask yourself if what you’re saying is really true.
  3. Change it: Replace the critical thought with a kinder, more realistic one.

For example, instead of saying, “I always mess up,” try, “I sometimes make mistakes, but I learn and grow from them.” It’s about moving from self-critique to self-encouragement.

Prioritize Self-care

Think of self-care as the fuel that powers your problem-solving engine. It’s not just pampering—it’s about keeping your mental, emotional, and physical health in check to stay sharp and resilient in the face of challenges. 

Without self-care, you risk burnout, which can render you unable to address even the simplest tasks.

Self-care should be non-negotiable. It’s the balance between giving to others and giving to yourself. By prioritizing your well-being, you better equip yourself for whatever life throws your way.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

Sometimes, the weight of our problems may feel too heavy to lift alone. This is when seeking professional help can be the most courageous step you take. 

Talking to a counselor, therapist, or another qualified professional isn’t an admission of defeat; it’s a proactive approach to improving your situation. Professionals can offer:

  • Expert advice tailored to your specific issues.
  • Tools and strategies to navigate complex emotions and situations.
  • A neutral perspective that might unlock new solutions.

Avoid Overthinking

Overthinking can paralyze you, making it hard to take any action at all. To break free from this cycle, it’s important to simplify your thought process. Think of your mind like a cluttered desk—taking a moment to tidy up can help you focus and be more productive.

One method to reduce overthinking is setting limits on decision-making time. Give yourself a reasonable timeframe to think about the problem and decide. After that, it’s time to move on. 

Additionally, engage in activities that keep your mind occupied:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can clear your mind.
  • Hobbies: Immerse yourself in activities that bring you joy.
  • Socializing: Discuss your thoughts with others, which can provide fresh perspectives and reduce the tendency to ruminate.

Remember Why You’re Taking on the Challenge

When the path gets tough, it’s your “why” that keeps you moving forward. It will remind you of the bigger picture and reignite your motivation. 

It can be anything that’s personally significant:

  • Achieving a personal goal: Maybe you want to better yourself in a particular area of life.
  • Helping others: Perhaps your actions will benefit those around you.
  • Fulfilling a dream: You might be on the path to realizing a long-held aspiration.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I fail while trying to solve a problem?

If you fail while trying to solve a problem, it’s important to recognize this as an integral part of the problem-solving process rather than a final obstacle. 

Failure often provides us with critical insights into the nature of the problem, revealing the strategies that did not work and leading us toward those that might. It offers an opportunity to analyze your approach, understand where it fell short, and reassess the problem with new perspectives.

Additionally, failure serves as a tool for personal growth. It tests and builds your resilience, patience, and persistence, all crucial qualities for long-term success.

How can we develop problem-solving skills?

Developing problem-solving skills can be done through the following:

Practice: Regularly challenge yourself with puzzles, brainteasers, and other tasks that require problem-solving.

Learning: Read books, take courses, or participate in workshops focused on developing problem-solving skills.

Reflection: After solving a problem, take time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve next time.

Mentorship: Seek guidance from a mentor or coach who can help you refine your problem-solving skills.

Is there a specific time frame for learning to confront difficult problems effectively?

There’s no specific time frame for learning to confront difficult problems effectively. The process varies significantly from person to person depending on their past experiences, coping mechanisms, support system, and personal resilience. 

However, with consistent effort and practice, most individuals should see gradual improvement over time.

How can I encourage others to stop running away from difficult problems?

Encouraging others to confront their difficult problems can be done by:

Leading by example: Demonstrate your own ability to tackle problems head-on.

Supporting their journey: Provide emotional support and encouragement as they face their challenges.

Sharing resources: Recommend books, articles, or resources that have helped you.

Promoting professional help: Suggest they consider seeking help from professionals like coaches or therapists if needed.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the secret isn’t avoiding problems—it’s learning to face them. Like learning to ride a bike, it might be shaky at first. But use the tips we’ve gone through as your training wheels.

The next time you find a problem blocking your way, take a deep breath, muster your courage, and take those important steps forward. Soon, you’ll find your balance and ride through life’s challenges with new confidence.

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.