Finding The Point Of Entry In The Dark Without A Flashlight


Bill Cottringer

What do these people have in common besides the first letter of their first name?

• John has been a successful salesman in the technology field for longer than he can remember but his company finally gave up the battle with the economy and closed its doors. He hasn’t had to do a resume or apply for a job in more than 20 years.

• Jane was married to her husband for over a century and he suddenly died of cancer. She hasn’t ever managed family finances and has no one to help her.

• James grew up never knowing who his biological parents were. He never really felt loved and couldn’t love somebody else enough to make any relationship work. He is getting divorced for the fourth time.

• Jessica is being bullied at school but everyone thinks she is exaggerating just to get attention. To make matters worse, she has ADHD and her mother is out of work and can’t afford the expensive medication that helps Jessica focus.

• Jackie is really a girl in a boy’s body and really confused as to what to do about it. No one else seems to understand the emotional horrors of this physical dilemma.

• Jacob is a highly educated music director at a large traditional church. People are complaining about the difficulty of following his complicated church music; everyone seems to prefer the more progressive “karaoke” style of singing.

• Jenny is stuck in a creative, helping career with a non-profit organization, being stymied and held back by an overly conservative bureaucracy in the community that won’t recognize the problems she sees and wants to correct.

Today life has grown way past a series of little problems to solve in order to survive. We now all have one thing very much in common: Problems are becoming more complex and complicated and we are all getting overwhelmed in trying to resolve the volume and frequency of the unfamiliar and painful situations that are constantly bombarding us. We are trying to find a point of entry to begin to resolve these problems, but frantically searching in the dark without a flashlight. The bumps, bruises and bleeding are getting worse.

Seeing a problem clearly—especially the complex and complicated ones—is always half the solution. But today, that seems to be much easier said than done. Never-the-less, the intense difficulty of what we are all trying to do here, has to really sink in beyond mental philosophy…because that IS the flashlight that helps us see the point of entry.

When we finally see what is going on—that we are perched on a cliff and are posed to fly or fall—we realize we are being forced to face our most basic insecurities. The flashlight we are looking for is the realization that the awful pain of problem-solving has become worse than it needs to be because we have such a hard time letting go to what we believe will work. Oddly, most of the things we believe to be true are exactly what is holding us back from flying off the cliff, being very stuck in the fear of falling.

Here are our opening characters' flashlights to show them their points of entry:

• John must open up to the possibility that he has allowed himself to get too comfortable in the wrong job. His unemployment may be an opportunity for him to “grow up” and start doing something that will help him fulfill his real purpose in life, such as helping others find their way out of such a conundrum.

• Jane is being forced to confront a main problem in life she has comfortably avoided—money management. And financial advice today is abundant and much cheaper than it has been, which is probably what got us in the current crisis; so, she can work both ends of the stick together for her solution.

• James has to do the one thing in life that is the hardest to do—to learn to love himself when all his evidence is to the contrary. But, the truth of the matter is, you can’t do the only thing that nurtures and sustains good relationships—unconditional loving—until you see that life is already doing that for you, with all your flashlight battery-zapping shortcomings, flaws and wrong-doings.

• Jessica won’t be the first kid to survive with ADHD without the meds. By simply forcing herself to focus on understanding that bullies bully out of jealousy and frustration with their own mental suffering, the sting of her own suffering goes away. This frees her to succeed in doing what she is in school to do, which is learning how to succeed in her life work after school.

• Jackie has to stop trying to figure out something in his head, about which his heart has the only real clue. But that is usually seen as a cop-out by others. Getting to “So what?” is the flashlight to his difficult point of entry.

• Jacob simply has to let go to his main purpose—to help church members grow their feelings and spirit through music, however that works best and easiest. Listening to what others want and need is hardest to do when we “know better” because of our own knowledge and position. We are usually blind to this flashlight until we stumble upon it already lit in the darkness.

• Jenny is ahead of the curve with the rest of her cast. She already knows she really only has two choices, either of which will work: (a) To take a chance, fly the coupe and reach out to a more accepting audience, or (b) Shorten the distance between her hopes and fears and those so prevalent in her current audience. This is a hard choice because it is protected by the belief that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. “Says who?” is her point of entry flashlight.

John Lennon is still right: “There are no problems, only solutions.” We just need flashlights to find them in the dark.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River and in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing), The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press), You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers), and Reality Repair Rx (Publish America) This article is an excerpt from an upcoming book Reality Repair. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or