These are two words that can be used to describe an occurrence or situation. One person may use the world problem and another could use the word challenge. And this is even though they are both in the same position or looking at the same thing.


On the word problem is described as: 1. A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome. 2. A thing difficult to achieve or accomplish.

And a challenge is described as: 1. A call to take part in a contest or competition, esp. a duel.


So although these are merely words that one can use to describe something; their meaning is radically different. To label something as a problem can make one feel that the problem is bigger and more than they are.

And to label something as a challenge can make one feel that they are bigger and more than what is going on.

The Power Of Words

This shows the power that words have in shaping ones experience of life. Because even though these are simply words, the effect that they have in shaping ones experience cannot be denied.

For it is not the situation that is causing one to respond in a certain way; it is the interpretation that that mind has and the associations that are then triggered, that are causing one to perceive a situation in a certain way.

A Matter Of Perspective

The perspectives that one sees life through are then formed. These could be day to day perspectives or perspective that one sees their whole life through.

Life could then be seen as one big problem or one big challenge: it is all a matter of perspective.

Empowered Or Disempowered

One of the things that are clear about these two words is that to describe something as a problem makes one feel disempowered. However, it also affects ones internal wellbeing, increases stress and has the potential to lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

On the other hand, seeing something as a challenge can create a completely different internal experience. Here one can see the situation as more of a game or a competition and as a chance to grow and develop; instead of seeing it as success or failure.

And this will cause to feel more empowered and more at ease internally. The higher levels of stress, emotional and mental unrest that would have come about through seeing the situation as a problem - would not have to be there.

What This Could Mean

The emotional and mental wellbeing of this person can be expected to be fairly balanced or to at least return to their normal level fairly quickly. A strong sense of resilience and an embracing of life's challenges could be expected from this person. And as a result of this -success and achievement would be expected.

For one who generally sees life or situations as a problem; it is inevitably going to be a very difference experience and potentially a tough life in the long term. Life could be seen as a burden or as something to be endured and even as a punishment.


What is clear is that we all see the world differently and that we are all having our own unique experience on this planet. People can empathise and come close to another experience, but another can never completely match it.

However, what we all have is an ego mind. And it is the ego mind that is causing one to see whether something is a challenge or a problem.

Absolute Meanings

These interpretations that the ego mind has and the associations that these interpretations create are largely going on outside of one's conscious awareness. And as a result of this, it can appear that whether something is a problem, or a challenge; it is being based on something that is out of one's control. These meanings can appear as absolutes and as the only description possible.

The thoughts that one has, the feelings, emotions and sensations will all correspond with this meaning. But this doesn't make it the absolute truth. It is simple the way the ego mind has been programmed to interpret what it is being exposed to.

Self Belief

It could be said that people who see something as a problem are likely to have a lack belief. And people who see something as a challenge are likely to believe in themselves. This is not absolute though; as someone who believes in themselves in one area of life, could have a lack of belief in another.

And yet there are some people who have a general belief in themselves and no matter what is placed in front of them, they seem to remain strong and resilient.


Now this could be due to many different things. Ranging from stressful to traumatic life experiences; to an early childhood environment that was equally as stressful and/or traumatic.

The way that one's caregivers responded to life situations would have been a powerful model in shaping how one grew up to perceive situations. Whether one was encouraged, supported and valued will also affect their level of belief in themselves. And this will go on to influence their view of whether something is a challenge or a problem in their later years and if one has what it takes to handle it.

If one was surrounded by people who were resilient and believed in themselves; this could have been internalized and so could the complete opposite.


Where this programming came from, is ultimately irrelevant; what matters is that one comes to see that they have a choice in how they perceive something. The ego mind is automatic and unless these associations are changed, the same interpretations will be made.

Whether something is a problem or a challenge can sound like nothing more than semantics and yet it is clear to see how much of a difference can be made by changing the language that we use.


There are many routes that one can take and this will all depend on the personality that one has; from books, to therapy and everything in-between. Assistance is there, we simply have to make the choice and find the assistance that is right for us.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Oliver J R Cooper and I have been on a journey of self awareness for over nine years and for many years prior to that I had a natural curiosity.

For over two years, I have been writing articles. These cover psychology and communication. This has also lead to poetry.

One of my intentions is to be a catalyst to others, as other people have been and continue to be to me. As well as writing articles and creating poetry, I also offer personal coaching. To find out more go to -

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