How to Stop Running Away From Difficult Problems (20 Ways)

Are you often scared of facing tough challenges head-on? You’re not alone! Many of us tend to dodge difficult problems, but here’s a secret: they don’t just disappear. 

But don’t worry! We’ve got some simple, effective steps to help you stop running away and start confidently tackling your problems. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Nature of Difficult Problems

Difficult problems are the ones that challenge your abilities, understanding, or resources. They’re not easy to solve, and often they require you to think creatively, learn something new, or change your perspective. 

For example, solving a complex mathematical equation can be a difficult problem for a student. Likewise, for an adult, managing personal finances or dealing with a challenging situation at work can be considered difficult problems.

Reasons For Avoiding Difficult Problems

Avoiding difficult problems is a common human behavior. This might happen due to several reasons:

Example
Fear of failureFear of not resolving the problem correctly or making it worse.Avoiding starting a challenging project due to fear of not being able to complete it successfully.
DiscomfortConfronting a problem often means stepping out of your comfort zone.Avoiding a difficult conversation with a friend about a sensitive issue because it feels uncomfortable.
Perceived effortThe perceived magnitude of the problem can be overwhelming.Avoiding sorting out financial problems due to the anticipated effort and complexities involved.
Lack of confidenceDoubting one’s problem-solving skills often leads to avoidance.Avoiding a leadership role due to a lack of confidence in decision-making abilities.
Fear of the unknownUncertain outcomes can make problem-solving intimidating.Avoiding a job change due to uncertainty about whether the new role will be better.

Consequences Of Running Away From Difficult Problems

Running away from difficult problems can lead to several negative consequences, such as:

  1. Delayed resolution: Ignoring problems can worsen them over time, prolonging the inevitable confrontation.
  2. Missed learning opportunities: Avoiding challenges means losing chances to learn, grow, and improve problem-solving skills.
  3. Increased anxiety and stress: Avoiding issues might feel good in the short term, but in the long run, it just piles on more long-term stress and anxiety.
  4. Impaired relationships: When problems don’t get solved, they can hurt both friendships and work relationships.
  5. Hinder personal growth: Opting for comfort over facing challenges can limit personal development and potential.
  6. Loss of confidence: Regular avoidance can erode self-esteem and create self-doubt.
  7. Reputation damage: If people know you as someone who dodges issues, it can hurt how they see you, both personally and professionally.

Figuring out the nature of the problem is only half the battle. Here, the challenge shifts from understanding the issue to finding ways to handle it. Let’s look at how you can stop running from problems and start solving them:

1. Acknowledge The Problem

Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first vital step toward resolution. Ignoring it won’t make it disappear; instead, it could grow into something larger and more complicated. 

The simple act of accepting that a problem exists allows you to shift from avoidance to engagement.

Tip: Try to speak your problem out loud. It helps you to internalize the problem, thus making it easier to handle.

2. Change Your Perspective

Problems aren’t necessarily obstacles but are, in fact, opportunities for learning and growth. 

When you change your perspective, how you approach and deal with issues changes, too. This shift can lead to a more constructive and optimistic mindset, thus enabling you to deal with your problems more effectively.

For example, if you’re having difficulty working as part of a team, it’s easy to see this as a problem. But from another perspective, it’s an opportunity to develop better interpersonal and teamwork skills.

3. Develop Problem-Solving Skills

There’s no magic fix for all problems. The way you tackle an issue usually depends on what the problem is and your own approach. It’s why learning and building up different ways to solve problems is so important. It’s like having a toolkit full of tools you can use for various tasks.

You can try using the following steps in the problem-solving method:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Analyzing
  3. Generating solutions
  4. Deciding on a solution
  5. Implementing
  6. Reviewing 
Fact: The first systematic approach to problem-solving, known as the scientific method, was developed during the scientific revolution in the 17th century.

4. Find Your Courage

It can be really tough to start dealing with a problem. But being courageous doesn’t mean you don’t feel scared. It just means not allowing that fear to hold you back. 

Using your courage to tackle the problem is a big part of finding a solution because it helps you move past those first hurdles that can keep you from making progress.

Trivia: The word courage comes from the French word "corage" or "coeur," which means heart.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about staying present and engaged in the moment, which is especially useful when dealing with problems. 

Instead of getting stuck on what went wrong before or worrying about what might happen later, mindfulness lets you concentrate on the issue you’re dealing with. It enables you to approach the situation calmly and thoughtfully rather than reactively.

A practical way to practice mindfulness is through: 

  • Deep breaths
  • Focusing on your surroundings
  • Meditating

Related: How to Improve Mindfulness and Meditation

6. Prioritize Your Problems

Often, we’re not dealing with just one problem but several at once. This can easily become overwhelming and lead to inaction. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize your problems and address the most urgent or significant ones first. 

This approach can make the process more manageable and less daunting, allowing you to maintain control over the situation.

For example, if you’re juggling tasks due at work and household chores, completing the tasks with the most significant impact or consequences would be practical.

7. Set SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals is a well-recognized strategy in problem-solving. The SMART framework stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound

These goals provide clear direction and criteria for achieving your objectives, helping to guide your problem-solving efforts in a focused manner.

Tip: Instead of setting vague goals like "I want to be healthier," try setting a SMART goal like "I will walk for 30 minutes every day for the next month."

8. Cultivate Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity or setbacks. It’s about staying persistent even when things get tough.

Solutions might not come easily or immediately, and that’s okay. Resilience is about maintaining your efforts, adapting as necessary, and not giving up.

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.

Vince Lombardi 

9. Overcome Fear of Failure

The fear of failure can paralyze and prevent us from taking the necessary steps to solve our problems. However, failure is a natural part of life and is often a stepping stone to success.

It’s important to understand that it’s okay to fail and that every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Related: Overcoming Fear of Failure

10. Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand and manage your emotions. This skill can significantly benefit your problem-solving abilities, especially under stress. 

It includes four key skills: 

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re better equipped to handle your emotions, empathize with others, and navigate social complexities—all crucial when facing difficult problems.

11. Seek Peer Support

Peer support is a powerful tool in problem-solving. By drawing from the experiences and perspectives of others, you can gain insights you might not have discovered on your own. 

Additionally, peer support provides a sense of belonging and reduces feelings of isolation.

Tip: Consider joining a support group, a book club, or even a professional network related to your problem.

12. Improve Your Communication Skills

Good communication involves both expressing your thoughts and feelings clearly and listening to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. When dealing with a problem, particularly when it involves others, clearly expressing your needs and concerns can lead to more effective solutions.

Suppose you’re facing a conflict with a coworker. In that case, clear and respectful communication can pave the way for a resolution. Describe the issue from your perspective without blaming or criticizing, and listen actively when the coworker shares their point of view. 

13. Take Small Steps

When dealing with complex problems, breaking the problem down into smaller, more manageable parts allows for a more focused understanding and approach to each part of the problem. 

Start by identifying the different components of your problem. Then, focus on solving each of these smaller issues one at a time. 

For example: If you’re trying to write a book, don’t try to tackle the entire task at once. Instead, break it down:

  • Start by outlining the chapters.
  • Focus on writing one chapter at a time.
  • Revise each chapter individually, and so forth. 

14. Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Being proactive means anticipating and addressing potential problems before they escalate into bigger issues. This requires foresight and an understanding that “prevention is better than cure.”

Consider a small leak in your home. If you notice it and repair it immediately, you prevent the more significant, more costly problem of a major leak or water damage down the line. 

15. Utilize Technology Tools

In our digital age, numerous technology tools can assist in problem-solving. These tools can help you stay organized, track progress, and facilitate collaboration when dealing with problems.

From project management tools to brainstorming applications, you have many options to choose from.

The key here is to choose the tools that best fit your needs and preferences. For instance, if you’re dealing with a problem that involves multiple tasks or stages, a project management tool might be beneficial.

16. Create a Contingency Plan

When dealing with difficult problems, having a backup plan can provide peace of mind. A contingency plan is essentially a “Plan B”—an alternative course of action that you can follow if your original plan doesn’t work out.

It prepares you for unexpected obstacles, reducing stress and fear of the unknown.

For example: If you’re starting a business and face financial issues, a contingency plan could be a secondary income source or an emergency fund. This provides a safety net, reducing the stress of potential financial struggles in your startup journey.

17. Seek Professional Help

There’s absolutely no shame in asking for professional help when dealing with challenging problems. Professionals, such as therapists, coaches, and counselors, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to help people navigate their problems. 

They can provide different strategies, perspectives, and solutions you might not have considered. Whether dealing with emotional issues, work problems, or life challenges, reaching out to a professional can make the journey less overwhelming and more manageable. 

One of the bravest things you can do is ask for help.

– Margaret Cho

18. Visualize Success

Visualizing success involves imagining yourself overcoming your problem successfully. This mental practice can boost confidence, stimulate motivation, and even lead to innovative solutions. 

In fact, athletes and performers often use visualization techniques to improve their performance.

For instance: If you’re overwhelmed with a challenging work project, visualize yourself successfully completing each task and confidently presenting your work. This mental rehearsal can make the project seem less daunting and more achievable.

19. Know When to Let Go

Not every problem has a straightforward solution, and there are times when the best course of action is to accept the situation and let go. This is often the case when the problem is beyond your control. Recognizing this can be difficult, but it is essential to personal growth and stress management.

Tip: If you find yourself consistently stuck on a problem without making progress, it may be a sign to let go or at least take a break. Letting go doesn't mean giving up entirely; instead, it's about making space for other possibilities to surface. 

20. Keep Learning and Adapting

Being open to new knowledge, techniques, and perspectives is essential in problem-solving. No problem is identical; as such, it requires flexibility in our strategies. This involves learning from past experiences, adapting our strategies as necessary, and being open to change.

Consider a chess game. Each game is different, and a successful player learns from each move, adapts their strategies based on their opponent’s actions, and remains open to new tactics.


The Importance Of Facing Difficult Problems

Taking on difficult problems might seem daunting, but it’s essential. In these challenging moments, we grow and discover opportunities we never thought existed. 

In the words of Albert Einstein

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

This statement speaks volumes of how difficulties, though intimidating, can be grounds for breakthroughs.

When you face a problem, you learn to tap into various skills like resilience, creativity, perspective-changing, and decision-making. These are not only key to resolving the issue at hand, but they are valuable life skills that can transform you into a stronger individual.

It’s human nature to fear failure and the unknown, but overcoming obstacles helps us realize our true strength. The process may be uncomfortable, yet at the end of it, the person who emerges is more capable and fortified for future hurdles. 

It’s not just about solving that one problem; it’s about empowering yourself for all the problems yet to come.


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.

Can positive affirmations help in facing difficult problems?

Positive affirmations can indeed help in facing difficult problems. They can reinforce your belief in your abilities, foster a positive mindset, and combat negative or fear-based thoughts. 

Remember to make your affirmations specific, positive, and believable for them to be effective.

Conclusion

Remember, dealing with tough problems is a part of life. It’s how we grow and become stronger. So, next time a difficult problem pops up, don’t run. 

Stand tall, use these steps, and face it head-on. You’ve got this! You’re capable of more than you think, and every problem is a chance to show just how strong you really are. Keep going!

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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.