What is the Problem?

questionMaze_smBack in my engineering days I sometimes applied an inquiry process asking “What is and what is not the problem?” which can also help with personal issues and challenges.  Often what you perceive as the problem completely misses the mark.  Beginning where you’d like a shift to occur initiates the inquiry but probably doesn’t capture the soul level root cause.

Suppose a friend or family member of yours always takes advantage of you, never reciprocates your kindness, and rarely appreciates what you do for her.  What is and what is not the problem for you here?  On the surface her behavior appears problematic and for her, it probably is!  She owns her behavior and must decide whether to change it or not.  Further inquiry into the problem for you might reveal an attachment to believing she needs to change and judging the fact she doesn’t, especially if she doesn’t perceive a need for a shift.  Drilling down even further it becomes about you, the place where you can apply your awareness and take action.  How does the relationship make you feel?  You probably feel like a victim when you help her and feel guilty if you don’t.  At this level you can harmonize guilt with Jin Shin Jyutsu® by holding your ring finger so you can consciously decide how to proceed in the relationship.

With a curious and open mind, explore whatever challenge you face.  Ask about the real problem for you and go deeper.  Recognize most soul level solutions come from within, not externally.  Keep inquiring until you reach an “Aha!” or sense of awareness.  It may take a while and you may require someone objective to assist you.  Once you grasp the soul level problem, a path to harmony can surface.

What is and what is not the problem?  How do you know when you’ve identified “the” problem?



  1. Hi Christy, During my teaching days, I taught the inquiry process in my math classes. With varying degrees of success. Some students applied themselves while others simply found it too difficult, declaring, “I can’t solve problems!” In adulthood, many people–including the needy woman in your example–don’t (or won’t) see the problem. They’re not willing to put in the effort to achieve that “aha” moment. Thanks for sharing another enlightening post. Joanne 🙂


    • Hi Joanne,
      I’m laughing a bit at “I can’t solve problems” since that’s such a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      As you say, often the people whom we perceive as misbehaving don’t and won’t see a problem so that leaves it to us to find the “aha” in how to deal with our own reactions to others’ blind spots. An external focus never yields an internal shift!

      You’re welcome. Thanks for your continued interest and sharing.

      Warm regards,


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