When Blessings Turn into Problems

Ireland landscape

Having a place to call home is a blessing—and a major one at that. We all need shelter and safety. And a little bit of comfort won’t hurt either.

But sometimes the blessings can bring countless headaches. I mentioned in a previous article having to deal with water damage issues. Such issues started a chain of events that were not anticipated or desired.

After the few mishaps at my parents’ home, I decided to do some preventative maintenance in my own home. I had talked to a trustworthy plumber, and he came and did the work.

The maintenance items revealed a few hidden issues that are, thankfully, aesthetic, not structural. But once I knew they were there, I started looking for every little imperfection and started to obsess.

Instead of feeling grateful that I have a home, I felt anxious and the worry kept mounting with every new observation—in other words, a blessing turned into a problem.

It’s the same house, the minor things were always there, but now that’s all I can think about.

This article is my attempt to release the mental and emotional tension, and shift back to a calmer state of being. If you’ve had a similar experience, I hope you find the following ideas useful.

Why do we turn a blessing into a problem?

Owning a home is a blessing, especially if you manage your finances well, and pay your mortgage within a reasonable timeframe. It can be a good investment. And a well maintained home is even better.

But this ownership brought me pain and worry that I’d rather not have. When I looked behind the pain, three reasons came up.

1- Emotional investment

Once we make a decision to take ownership of something, we develop an emotional attachment to it. As you know, when emotions take over, logic and common sense go out the window.

When we feel emotionally invested, we:

  • Take things personally: Anything that happens to my home is happening to me, and me only.
  • Exaggerate fears and worries: We don’t want anything to happen to our investment. We want it to be perfect, and when a little thing happens, it feels like the end of the world.
  • Develop myopic vision: When emotions run high, we fixate on the problem and ignore everything else.

2- Ignoring the cost of blessings

Everything in life comes at a cost. The price we pay is not the only cost. We take responsibility for this ownership, which means we own the potential for loss as well.

This is part of life. If you own a home, you’ll have the responsibility to take care of it, knowing that there’s always a chance of damage and financial loss.

When we don’t accept the trade off, we suffer because we’re not aligned with the reality of ownership.

3- Overlooking the positive

This is when worry about a minor issue becomes a problem. We ignore all the things that are working okay. And we zoom in on the issues, making them much bigger than they are.

A home is more than a shelter. It’s where our family is, and where we feel most comfortable and safe. These are the most important things.

Having insurance and skilled craftsmen to deal with issues is another positive. We don’t have to do anything alone. But when we’re in problem mode, we feel alone.

And while we’re in that painful state, we feel small in the face of an exaggerated issue … and we forget our own strength and ability to deal with life’s challenges.

Emotions combined with negativity that’s detached from reality will turn this mental process of focusing on problems into a painful habit.

The best way to deal with the issue is to turn the contributing factors around.

How to step out of problem thinking

The steps below will address the three issues that create problem focused thinking.

1- Seeing the good

Focusing on the negative makes it appear bigger than it is. For every imperfection in my house, I started looking for three good things. And I found more than three, and felt immensely grateful.

Looking for what’s working also restores our faith and trust that all is okay. This tiny shift can empower us to move forward in a different direction, knowing that we can handle it.

2- A larger more realistic perspective

In the larger scheme of things, nothing is truly personal and ownership is just a human-made construct. We really don’t own anything. We’re just renters on this beautiful earth.

Everything is transient. If I sell my house tomorrow, how much would I care about the little things that I’m worried about now?

And even if I don’t sell the house, would I worry about the issues if I was on my death bed? I don’t think so.

The reality is: ownership is not permanent. We are not permanent. And nothing we own is that important.

This shift in perspective shrinks the worry to its proper size—a minuscule blip barely worth noticing.

3- Injecting some logic into the situation

Arguing with emotions, or trying to suppress them, doesn’t usually work. What I find useful is reminding ourselves of what we normally do when we’re not trapped in a self-made problem.

I try to remind myself of the following:

Choices and trade offs: Spending money is part of life. Making a certain choice comes with its own set of demands and costs.

Home maintenance costs money like anything else—I just don’t want to deal with it. I have no problem paying a few hundred dollars for an iPad, or a couple of thousand dollars for a computer. I can potentially lose thousands in a few minutes during a trading day, and I usually get over it quickly.

A mindset that has no problem spending money and taking risks, can be extended to dealing with a few issues in the house.

Which is more important: a shower that functions properly or an iPad? The answer is clear. I’d rather borrow a book from the library (the iPad is mostly used for reading). I’d definitely want to shower at home.

There is always help and support. Insurance takes care of major damage, and minor issues can be dealt with like any other cost or expense.

No one is completely alone, and help is usually just a phone call (or email) away.

There is a lesson in every situation. Sometimes ignorance is bliss; we’re moving with life oblivious to the minor imperfections that surround us. Learning more, through experience, opens up our field of perception, and possibly can cause us to worry about things we were clueless about in the past. But there is another way of looking at it:

The more we learn about a home, or an industry, or ourselves, the better equipped we become in understanding and dealing with challenges that may come up in the future.

We learn from every problem and we become stronger, even if we can’t see it when emotions are running high.

Find the lessons and embrace them. These are lessons for life by life.

To sum it up, every blessing (a home, car, job, or relationship) comes with a potential for loss—in varying magnitudes. Dealing with minor losses (or inconveniences) can cause us more pain than needed if we allow the fears and worries to run rampant.

To align back with life and a calmer state of being, we need to remind ourselves of the blessings, learn the lesson, and trust that all will be okay, or at least won’t last forever.