Directing Creativity

by Elliot Temple

Problems are inevitable. Problems are soluble.

We'll always have problems. But we can deal with them.

Some people get discouraged. They fail to solve problems. They even claim it (sometimes) can't be done.

When can't it be done? What is the principle determining which problems are soluble or not? They haven't thought about that a great deal.

Their principle is this: if it seems really hard to them, they give up. And if they give up, they say it's impossible. If it is impossible, then it's not their fault for failing since no one could have succeeded.

A common example is parents failing to solve problems with their children. They give up on truth seeking and declare things like, "My child just won't listen".

They say cooperating with children is unreasonable; there is no way to satisfy children; and it's not their fault but only the children's fault.

People get stuck on small issues with children. It's not just the most difficult problems that go wrong. A portion of the little things go wrong too. Sometimes badly wrong.

Parents will chronically fight with their children about what food they eat, what clothes they wear, who their friends are, how much homework they do, whether they play a musical instrument, who they date, and so on. Any mundane part of life can become a source of fighting, unsolved problems, and suffering.

Why do people fail to solve problems? What are mistakes they make which we can look out for and avoid?

An important thing to consider is what the goals are for everyone involved. What are they trying to accomplish?

Solving problems requires thinking. One must use his mind to solve the problem. Without creative thought, the problem won't get solved. So we must consider: where is creativity being directed? What is creative thought being used for?

Consider vegetables. There is a truth of the matter about the attitude to eating. It's in everyone's interest to figure out this truth and use it to help them make better decisions. People should cooperate.

When food goes wrong, it's often because the parents are not using their creativity to solve the problem by finding out what the truth is and doing that. They have a different idea of what the problem is. They are trying to solve a different problem than the child is, and that's why they can't agree.

The problem the parent is trying to solve is: "How do I make my child eat vegetables?"

The parent's problem has built in assumptions which are the cause of the fighting. The parent's creativity isn't going towards figuring out whether he's right that the child should eat these vegetables, but towards how to control his child's life.

Whenever a parent complains that his child "doesn't listen" he is revealing where he is directing his creative thought: to making his child "listen" (obey). That is why their problems don't get solved. It's because the parent isn't trying to solve the problem but simply to enforce obedience.

The parent wants the child to do what he says. He calls that listening but it is identical to obeying. The parent's problem he has trouble solving is how to get obedience.

That's a completely different thing than parent and child failing to cooperatively solve the problem of figuring out what foods are good to eat, when.

The fighting is caused by the parent disregarding the child's wishes. The fighting is caused by putting all his effort into achieving a goal his child does not want. No attempt is being made to find a real solution: a way of life which is good for everyone.

Problems only get solved when people direct their creative thought towards solving those problems. When people try instead try to solve conflicting problems, such as one person wants to be happy and the other wants the first person to obey, then of course they can't cooperate to find a solution and only end up fighting.

(read more of Elliot Temple's writing at )