Bored unhappy thoughtful woman muslim doctor intern sit at office clinic feel sadness desperation

Our problem-solving minds

Being able to predict and identify threats — and find ways to manage those threats — has been critical to our survival as a species. Humans apply this skill to everything from how we get to work to how we manage global warming. We are hard-wired to identify threats and problems. And yet, this instinct presents a challenge in our modern world. 

Let’s consider an example:

  • One morning, you text your friend about having dinner together
  • Nine hours later, your friend has not responded yet
  • You are now wondering if your friend is mad at you
  • You become angry. You think of all the ways this person has ever let you down
  • You decide you will ignore them when they finally reply

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there — in both our work lives and home lives.

When unhelpful thoughts guide your actions after a potentially morally injurious event (PMIE), you might find yourself compromising your personal morals, ethics, or values. This can lead to moral injury. 

Your mind is trained to scan for threats when danger is present. In times of safety, that same scan can focus on finding faults.

When your mind gets caught in fault-finding habits, you cause yourself unnecessary distress. You need your problem-solving mind to help you — but you also need to notice when it is not serving you. 

To accomplish this, you’ll need to learn to think about how you’re thinking. You’ll need to understand that your thoughts represent your experiences, but they are not your actual experiences. 

Here’s how you can start:

  • Observe your own thoughts
  • Notice when your problem-solving mind is helpful to you and when it is not
  • Recognize your thoughts are just that: thoughts

When you’re ready, read on to learn some strategies to help you further.