When there is a pressing problem, people will want to have the answer to it. That is, they’ll want the problem to go away and hope for a solution to make it go away.
It sounds like the most normal thing to look for or want. Take for example all these transactions when you ask someone for the time, when you go out to buy something, or when you smile at someone who returns that smile.
It’s a perfect mechanism. Asking for something delivers what one asked for.
What makes it possible is a simple constraint: It works in a predetermined number of situations. That is, whenever this is the agreed upon, habitual or polite behavior. And whenever what is desired can be provided. Someone who doesn’t have a watch can’t look at it to give the time. When the bakery has no baguettes left, it can’t sell them anymore. And someone who is absent-minded when being smiled at, might not realize that they were meant.
When the problem they want to see go away is something they fear or are concerned about, the situation is different.
They are focused on something they seek to avoid and have little attention to what it is that they want. For example, what courage they need to find, what path they want to take around the obstacle, or how all they look for in that moment is the desire to feel protected from whatever it is they seek to avoid. It might be, that what they want seems so inaccessible that they have become afraid to ask for it. It’s a situation in which the fear of whatever it is they want to avoid is too real to leave space for something else.
It might also be, that they don’t know how to describe what they want as it requires a leap into the unknown. That is true for a lot of learning and change people are confronted with. Where they will arrive can’t be described yet as they don’t know how the experience will feel like, nor do they know how they may be able to get there – it is the unknown. Whenever it seems too daunting or too overwhelming, it usually is, that the problem they seek to make go away is the fear of the daunting and overwhelming.
The only way to make the bogeyman go away is to look at him and have a conversation with him.
It’s a choice. One no one else can help make. One that rarely comes from being reassured, and more often through being supported while taking a look.