How to Handle Problems

Here’s a great article from my dear friend and coach Karen from Canada. She has been my coach through thick and thin for over 14 years now and I can assure she has the magic touch. I loved this article because it provides wonderful wisdom at just the right time for me. I hope it strikes a chord for you too!

How to Handle Problems

by Karen Hood-Caddy

Everyone who hires me has a problem. Sometimes that problem is big, sometimes it’s small and sometimes, it’s gnarly, or frightening.

Needless to say, over 30 years of coaching, I’ve learned a great deal about how to help people solve problems. I want to share with you some of the skills that will help you address the tough situations in your life with greater ease and efficiency.

Because if there’s one thing that differentiates happy people from unhappy people, it’s how they address the hard parts of life.

Here are the best tips I know to handle problems like a pro.

  • To be blunt, the only people that don’t have problems are dead people. So, accept your problems and trust that they beat the alternative.
  • Get bigger than your problem. People who are living a great life aren’t as affected by their problems as people who aren’t living a great life. It’s like this: If you only have one cookie and mud gets splattered on it, it’s going to feel way more significant than if you have a whole box of cookies. Most people find that the moment they begin to live juicy lives, their problems seem to diminish in size and ferocity.
  • Plan for problems.  I have found this a HUGE help in my own life. I used to live as if everything would go smoothly, now I give lots of room for snags and actually look for problematic areas in advance so I’m not so put out when they appear.
  • Trust that solving a problem will evolve you. We often have to grow or change our attitudes to deal with a problem and that’s a good thing. I had a great teacher in Switzerland say to me, “What just about breaks you, makes you.” It’s so true.
  • Ask for help.  There is always someone else who knows the answer to what’s problematic for us. Involve them. It will move you through the problem SO much faster.
  • Start by chipping away at the problem: write down 5 small baby steps you can do to start taking the problem on. (You’ll be surprised how effective this is.)
  • Know that everyone has problems, and many, many people in the world have exactly the same problem as you. This will help you feel less hard done by and less alone.
  • Containerize the problem.  Yesterday I woke up feeling a little down about an issue in my life. Then I realized that even though I don’t have this situation handled in the way I might like, I can still have a great day and still believe I’m a wonderful person.  This thought gave me an immediate feeling of lightness. Yes, I still had the problem, but it wasn’t leaking into other areas of my life.
  • Write down 5 crazy, outside the box solutions. It’s amazing how creative thinking can sometimes give us fresh ideas.
  • Journal 5 ways your ‘Best Self’ might benefit from this problem. A communication problem with a child could give you greater empathy skills, a financial issue might make you more clear on monetary goals, a health problem could make you more committed to your physical wellbeing.  Life is continually trying to evolve us. Don’t argue─grow!

I hope these suggestions were helpful. Please contact me if you’d like a complimentary idea session on how you can handle your own problems better and live YOUR BEST LIFE.


Karen Hood-Caddy

Personal Best Coaching

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The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?


Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.



And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown


I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

The White Room

So, following on from my last post and all that I’ve been exploring recently, I wanted to tell you about what I’m calling my ‘White Room’.

It turns out that the most alive and free we can be is from a place of space. Nothing. Zilch. Just space. If you are an accomplished meditator then you know this place well. But even if you don’t meditate you might have had a wee taste of it in those moments when we find yourself staring out of the window, mouth slightly open, eyes glazed over, in a kind of daze. No-one at home – just you, unaware of anything. These moments are fleeting but it’s something worth cultivating. Because it’s in these moments that we are completely FREE!

  • No assumptions
  • No past
  • No future
  • No doubts, fears, judgements….

Just ….. nothing.

This is what I’m calling my White Room. If I can go to my white room then I can sit and calmly decide, in my own time, and only if I want to, how to furnish my room. In other words I get to choose exactly what I create in this space. And because it’s empty – there is no end to the possiblities. The sky’s the limit!

I’m trying a new practice of going to my White Room whenever I can – particularly if I’m starting to feel mentally and emotionally overcrowded. Today was a good case in point. I was stuck in the x-ray department of the local hospital (Sasha’s getting braces) and watched as the waiting room filled twice over with people who all got seen to before us. I complained twice but to no avail. I was fuming! But then I remembered my White Room. I went in their and felt it all drop away. I didn’t stay in there for more than a minute or so but it helped me calm down enormously. Most importantly it helped me decide: “Now that all this frustration and everything to do with it, is stripped away – what is it I really want to create here?”

Try it yourself. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear!

Miss Angry from Gloucestershire

Today I’ve been ‘Mrs Angry from Gloucestershire’. I’ve raised my voice to several unsuspecting, nameless support bods in several nameless locations around the globe. My iPhone is on the blink – has been for over 4 days now – with no sign of getting fixed anytime soon. I’m going potty!

Anything you want to know about SIM cards, IMEI numbers, ‘jailbreaking’, software updates and phone unlocking – I’m your woman. Doesn’t mean I have stopped going round and round in circles trying to find solutions, mind you – that would be too much to expect.

The slight tinge of bitterness you might detect in my tone is entirely down to the powerlessness one feels when a deceptively sexy, little black box gets the better of you.

But this blog is about raising my happiness from wherever I am, so there’s nothing for it right now but to get out the stress reduction kit:

That should do it.

Including it all

Yesterday I took my son Sasha, to the local sports shop for a momentus event. Because his birthday is so close to Christmas he had accumulated a large sum of money which he wanted to invest in a top notch scooter. We went, he made his choice and now, a few inches taller, he took it home and unboxed it.

No matter what we did, it wouldn’t fit together properly.

We called Guy on Skype and showed him what we’d done but he had no more clues than we did. Poor Sasha – what a disappointment after all that build up! I would have to take it back to the shop – a right pain, as it meant adjusting other plans.

Over our Christmas break in Wales, I read an article, (sorry I can’t find it for the life of me to pass it on!), which talked about the importance of  ‘including’ all our experiences. What this means is taking an unexpected event, like a brand new broken scooter, for instance, and, instead of resisting it, allowing it in. It’s not that we have to agree with it, it’s just that we can save ourselves a lot of wasted energy if we don’t bother fighting it, defending ourselves or otherwise railing against it: “It’s here so I will include it”.

I find this very powerful. It feels different to ‘going with the flow’ which can feel passive I think. ‘Including’ something has more of the air of choice about it – of conscious action.

I included Sasha’s scooter into my experience and we now have a replacement one sitting in the hall, having been put through its paces on the driveway. This experience, in a small way, has become part of the tapestry of these past two days instead of the energetic equivalent of a pulled stitch.

I think this ‘including’ thing will stick with me now. It certainly seems to make for a lot smoother ride.

‘Me’ and ‘Everythingness’

Tonight I’m finding myself in a very different place from yesterday. After a lovely day completing Christmas shopping with the children and feeling a wonderful sense of unity with them, I had moved from self-doubt to a conciousness of Flow.

Then came a phone call from Guy.

His father is very ill in hospital at the moment and he is understandably worried. He wants to visit him, but he wants to do it around work commitments. He wants to go on Friday and come back on the night of Christmas Eve.

I’m not at all proud to say that I wasn’t altogether understanding. The part of me that wants our children to have a special Christmas time with us as a family, the part of me that is afraid of what missing their Dad does to our children, the part of me that really misses Guy, balked. And yet, I knew that sounded terrible. Of course his Dad is top priority right now.

And so a dance has begun inside of me – the pull of what my ego wants and what in the grand scheme of things is about an honouring of something very big – the bond of father and son – eternal love nurtured over 57 years. It’s hard to express, but I know that this for Guy IS bigger than our Christmas this year and that it’s important that I let that be.

I have been helped in this realisation by a friend who (probably not-so) serendipitiously sent me this extraordinary video tonight. I urge you to watch it. It explains such a lot to me about these two sides we have inside – the conciousness of something much, much bigger than ourselves and, at the same time, the conciousness of ourselves as separate and unique.

Where did I go?

Where did I go? Down a technological black hole!

I’m sure you’ve been here – sucked in by an issue with a computer and unable to claw yourself back to the real world. Last night I took this to an extreme – up to 1am trying to sort out an issue I’m having migrating this blog to a new more whizzy version – then unable to get to sleep fretting that I’d mangled everythng, until 4am. Today I feel like I’ve just stepped off the plane from New Zealand. Deeply tired and not of this planet.

I was talking to my friend Kelly in Canada today about the levels of anxiety we can get ourselves into:

  • Level 1 – the originating issue (for me it was “help! I think I’ve lost some vital data!)
  • Level 2 – the beating yourself up layer
  • Level 3 – the berating yourself for beating yourself up layer
  • Level 4 – the beating yourself up for losing sleep over berating yourself for beating yourself up layer

“Oh what a tangled web we weave”!

Time to go back to my recent blog 6 antidotes to beating myself up and let myself crawl back out of the labyrinth – starting with Forgiving Myself, moving on to Nurturing Myself (getting more sleep in!), and moving to Putting it into Perspective.

Kelly said: “Well this is the kind of issue your Future Self will have!” How true and heartening in a funny sort of way. The potential outage of the blog (and what I felt was the potential for letting down my subscribers) IS a new problem – born out of my personal expansion. If I wasn’t in the process of expansion this issue wouldn’t have arisen. I love the perverse rightness of that!

So my uplifter for today? Well I suppose it’s right back to celebrating the knocks for the wonderful growth that it brings. (My Future Self is cheering for that I as I write!).

I know not everyone loves Nike but the message in this ad sums this all up well.

Righteous Indignation!

Well, here’s a good one. I’m indignant!

I just rang a fellow parent at the school to ask if her son would like a lift home tomorrow and straight away I get, (when she comes to the phone), a very terse: “What? I’m going out.” I explain the reason for my call and say that as I’d given him a lift last week perhaps he’d like me to do the same this week as I’ve got a spare seat. “Well, I think he got a bit tired last week after being dragged all around the houses in Stroud.”

Well – ex-cuuuuuuse me! First up I simply dropped Julia off at her cello lesson on the way home and secondly he doesn’t have to have a bleedin’ lift if he doesn’t want one! Honestly the cheek of it. I felt like telling her he could walk home then but of course I didn’t. I bit my tongue and seethed. As you can tell I am still seething.

So tonight you’re getting a real live, wriggling emotion – hanging like a maggot from my karmic fishing rod!

OK so what do I do with this one? Hmmm. Well, it definitely feels better to write about it. Good time for an Energy Ladder I think:

Normally I would do this on paper – making 12 rungs and writing each line against a rung but for blog-puposes I’ll just list it. You need to imagine me starting with number 1. at the bottom of the ladder and working up to my ideal outcome on the top (12th) rung. (So the list below is kind of upside down). Remember the idea here is that I don’t try any big leaps – I simply write a statement each time that gives me some relief and feels true.

So here goes:

  1. I’m indignant about that very ungracious parent!
  2. She’s clearly not a happy person
  3. Maybe she was in a hurry and wasn’t thinking straight
  4. Maybe she’s like that with everyone
  5. At least I get to vent about it on my blog!
  6. It’s certainly a good opportunity to put my money where my mouth is and experiment with getting into a better place about it
  7. I’ve had a lot worse and survived
  8. I’m so fortunate not to have anyone close in my life like this – this is just an aberration
  9. I know I’m a good person with the best of intentions – she can either see that or not – that’s fine
  10. I don’t need to give lifts again to her son any more – it’s totally my choice
  11. I know I can shrug this off. I have no idea what’s going on for her but I’m content with where I’m at
  12. Some people have different ways of handling things and I don’t ever have to make that mean anything about me.

Yay! It works.

I feel so much better. Thank you Mr Energy-Ladder.