Let’s define solved as – the problem has be dealt with, or cleared up, in such a way that it has gone away and not likely to occur again any time soon, or ever again.
Not all problems are solvable by this definition. Because to solve it would require one or more of the following conditions to be true:
- Someone else changes their mind or behaviour.
- Some systemic aspect, like the law or prevailing culture, changes.
- Some aspect of nature, like time or gravity, changes.
We can only do so much: we can cajole and persuade someone to change, put in a good job application, petition the government, or pray hard for miracles. We are still at the end of the day beholden to some external circumstance changing to our favour.
Sometimes, they just don’t.
The natural reaction is disappointment. There may be blame, of ourselves or others. We may also feel like the victim of a great injustice.
At this point, when all that we can reasonably do has not resolved the problem, we need to redefine the problem.
The redefined problem now needs to deal with:
- Managing and processing the internal psychological factors from the disappointment, helplessness, and hopelessness.
- Mitigating the external, mechanistic/procedural fallout from the failure to resolve the first iteration of the problem.
- Working to understand and accept the current circumstance and conditions. This may include reframing the meanings we attach to the original problem, and the failure to resolve it.
In a way, all problems are insoluble! They just change as we work on them. It is important we recognise this change, so we can avoid getting caught up solving the old problem.