"When we put problems on the back burner, often they just sit there and burn."
~ Georgia Crawford

“When we put problems on the back burner, often they just sit there and burn.”
~ Georgia Crawford

When to Put Problems on the Back Burner

I love this quote from my wife, Georgia, because it gives us the opportunity to examine how and when we deal with problems. In other words, when is putting problems on the back burner a good idea, and when does it just create a bigger (more heated) problem?

As always, I suggest that we look at the energy behind the decision. For example, when our desire to put off dealing with a problem is based upon our wanting to gather more information, give the issue more thought, or wait until new resources can be applied to the solution, then it’s probably a good idea. The truth is that we can’t deal with everything at once, and therefore, becoming more purposeful about when we turn our attention to a problem can be an effective strategy.

However, when this decision is driven by fear, worry, anxiety, or concern about how someone might react, or the fear of what sort of changes might be necessary when the problem is “out in the open,” or simply our fear that we may fail in our attempt to address a significant issue then, we might want to rethink the decision to put it on the back burner.

That’s because when a problem is on the back burner, this doesn’t mean that it is no longer affecting our lives. It is still unresolved and alive, and the heat coming from that back burner can be destructive. Unfortunately, because we have moved the problem out of our awareness, we have also moved it out of our sphere of influence, and a problem that we can do nothing about creates its own special “heat.”

Therefore, I suggest that we examine our “stove top” to see which issues we want to deal with now, and which we want to let simmer, and more importantly WHY, or the energy behind this decision. For those who are familiar with my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that when we are confronted with a true fight-or-flight situation, our lower 20% of the brain takes over. This is the purpose of fear, worry, and anxiety. It brings the problem (we are being attacked, or our child is about to run into the street, etc.), to the forefront, and allows us to react without thinking.

However, when we make a decision from this lower 20% of the brain in situations that truly require our best problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, clarity, confidence, compassion, etc., then we actually block our ability to be effective. Therefore, I suggest that we ask the question, if someone I loved came to me with this problem, would I recommend them putting it on the back burner, or dealing with it now so that it doesn’t just “sit back there and burn.”

In this way, we are using love versus fear as our guide, and the potential that we will make the most loving, meaningful and effective decision possible goes up exponentially.

As always, if you are finding these quotes and comments to be valuable and would like me to create a presentation for your organization around this, or any issue, please hit the contact button on my website (www.BillCrawfordPhD.com) and let’s talk. By the same token, if you would like to work with me individually, you can get in touch with me in the same way.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill