Problem Scale by Linda Ellis
(Excerpt from LIVE YOUR DASH)
Last year I took an unexpected trip to the emergency room after a failed attempt to descend the stairs while holding a box of holiday ornaments, which was positioned at just the right height to completely block my view of the steps beneath my feet. While I remained motionless, lying at the bottom of the staircase, I couldn’t help but hear my dad’s words echoing in my head: “If you’re gonna be dumb, ya better be tough!”
That evening, while I sat feeling sorry for myself behind the white curtain hospitals use to eventually unveil your designated diagnosing physician, the nurse asked me to evaluate my current pain level on a scale from 1 to 10. My first thought was, Hey, I didn’t study for this test!
I hesitated to answer Nurse Ratched (affectionately nicknamed after her obvious disdain for my, “Now I know why they call it a hardwood floor” joke). After all, I wanted to give an honest and concise assessment of my level of discomfort. However, as I began to evaluate the severity of my situation, I started to realize that I was not in the agony my current attitude might suggest. Sure, I was annoyed—I had so many things I had planned to accomplish that evening! But, Ms. Ratched hadn’t asked me what my annoyance level was, had she? Sure, I was aggravated, but again, I wasn’t being requested to peer at a cardboard aggravation scale, was I? She had asked me to assess my level of pain. When I had isolated the actual subject of her sentence, I suddenly realized that although I did require medical treatment for my injury, it wasn’t painful enough to match the negative mindset I had adopted.
Always seeking self-improvement opportunities, I translated this event into how I perceive the trials and tribulations arising in my life on a regular basis. I said to myself, “Self, what if I were to calculate the severity of my problems using a hypothetical Problem Scale akin to the pain scale at the hospital?” (I think we have all done this to some extent when we see or hear of someone who is experiencing a worse circumstance than our own.) What if we literally took our problems as they arise, prior to reacting, and evaluated them on our Problem Scale?
I’ve read that the crux of most of our troubles lies in our reaction (or overreaction) to any given issue and not the issue itself. Furthermore, if we look solely at the core of every ordeal, without involving our reactions or emotions, we can usually immediately downgrade the issue from a perceived 10 or 9 . . . to a 5 or less—or from a Crisis to a Quandary.
I don’t advise myself not to worry at all, as that would be pointless. Life does offer circumstances that will cause me to fret, cry, agonize, and sometimes panic. I cannot help my own natural emotions. However, I’m learning to differentiate those situations in which my fret and angst only add to my difficulties and, therefore, ultimately, negatively affect me.
To humor ourselves, let’s imagine how we would use our Problem Scale to rate the severity levels of negative circumstances and, therefore, dictate our responses—and attitudes—toward each.
PSL = Problem Scale Level
PSL = 10 — Crisis — More than an ordeal. Synonyms: Emergency, Calamity, Disaster — May involve worry, tears, and often, high level of heart palpitations. If you can honestly categorize your issue as a #10, then feel free to give yourself a green light to proceed into the intersection of Fret & Anxiety.
Most appropriate adage: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
PSL = 9 — Ordeal — Less than a crisis, more than a dilemma. Synonyms: Trial, Torment, Suffering — May involve stress, tension, and a lengthy call to an advice-laden parent, family member, or high-ranking military officer (if available).
Most appropriate adage: “A bend in the road is not the end of the road . . . unless you fail to make the turn.”
PSL = 8 — Dilemma — Less than an ordeal, more than a mishap. Synonyms: Tight Spot, Impasse — May involve worry, sleepless nights, and/or guidance from a minimum of four good friends.
Most appropriate adage: “This too shall pass.”
PSL = 7 — Mishap — Less than a dilemma, more than a predicament. Synonyms: Accident, Misfortune — This type of problem may involve a local defense attorney.
Most appropriate adage: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”
PSL = 6 — Predicament — Less than a mishap — more than a quandary. Synonyms: Mess, Pickle, Difficulty — No clear, easy way out.
Most appropriate adage: “Face the music.”
PSL = 5 — Quandary — Less than a predicament — more than a setback. Synonyms: Fix, Jam, Sticky Situation — Decision(s) must be made. Often involves detailed pro vs. con list.
Most appropriate adage: “The only certainty is that nothing is certain.”
PSL of 4 or less — Setback — Synonyms: Temporary Impediment, Hindrance, Obstacle — “Requires little or no reaction.”
Problems with a PSL of 4 or less usually fall into the following three categories:
Oliver Goldsmith said, “A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation; therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or future.” I would venture to guess that, if evaluated in earnest, 80 percent of my life’s “problems” could rate PSL 4 or less. I’ve found that by practicing the art of deducting from a problem’s equation, my own unnecessary fret, worry, and anxiety, I can literally reduce its rank on the scale. Gauging my reaction to the reality of each situation (by accurately assessing each using my hypothetical Problem Scale) allows me to respond more appropriately.
So next time life presents an opportunity for you to react with the three IMs: IMpatiently, IMpulsively and IMpetuously, try measuring the issue on your Problem Scale. It takes a combination of self-awareness and truth, but it may help you cope and react more positively to negative situations. You’ll find a large amount of what you brand “problems” wouldn’t qualify as such if they were overlooked, instead of labeled.
The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis Copyright,
John Jolin, Copyright Coordinator
I do, as the author, Linda Ellis love to share my works...in my books, on my website, and on my blog. I ask if anyone wishes to share my inspirations (which I hope you do) with friends and family that you use the means we have installed on each...the share buttons. This way the work stays where it belongs and can still be shared with others through a link. As always, I love for any of my work to be recited anywhere at any time.
However, my name, Linda Ellis, has received negative publicity online about our efforts to protect my copyrighted work due to the diligent work of cyberstalkers. Of course, their campaign of hate and destruction began when someone was found using my copyrighted work for her business without permission. She decided instead of acting in a mature, professional manner, to begin a cyberstalking campaign against me which escalated into threats, lawyers, Permanent Protective Orders and other unnecessary and ugly scenarios. Even her own neighbors have sought protective orders against her. Had I known about her frightening and obsessive behaviors, I would never have purposely crossed her path.
Eventually, this woman found likeminded individuals as seen HERE (language warning) to help further her campaign against me full of hate, mistruths and misrepresentations. It's really sad that the Internet has given people like this a platform to spread vile lies and negativity.
I urge you, therefore, to send all copyright inquiries and issues to us directly. We will answer responses and inquiries fairly and amicably, as we have been doing for almost 20 years.
These people must believe those of us who create original works should freely share these creations with no claims of ownership or value, with no permission granted or payment made of any kind. Furthermore...musicians, songwriters and movie producers should offer their creations without requiring permission, without having any say over where, when or how the work is distributed, and without receiving renumeration of any kind. Yet, ask those same people to share what they make, what they do, their own talents and skills, their livelihood with the world without permission or payment, and you can guess the answer.
Of course, a majority of them do not rely on their original intellectual creations for their own livelihood. They have nothing invested, they do not understand the need to protect the valuable asset that is intellectual property. In business class in school, the teachers used the example of "widgets." A widget was an imaginary product manufactured by an imaginary company. Widgets were marketed and sold in this mock scenario to teach us about the give and take aspects of a free market. Of course, these widgets held their value and made a profit because they were created before the arrival of the Internet...
With the expansion of the Internet over the years, many intellectual property owners have watched the devaluation of their products. If you saw a "widget" in a store, a product which the store owner produces, markets and sells, and you took that widget and shared it with hundreds of thousands without permission, without making any payment, that would be considered theft. There would be repercussions for your actions, including payment to the store owner and further penalties for freely giving his product to others. This is because you had taken that which does not belong to you without permission or making required payment. Perhaps, for some reason, you did not know it was the store owner's property -- that still didn't give you the right to take it without permission and further disseminate it to hundreds of thousands. You may claim you are innocent -- that you didn't know the widget had a creator. However, if something exists...someone, somewhere had to create it...wouldn't you agree?
Copyright is the law. It was created to protect the works of those of us who do create...the painters, the musicians, the photographers, the authors, and the poets. Unfortunately, today copyright laws are disrespected and ignored, if ever acknowledged at all. The Internet has the capability to turn what was once a valued inspiration, as well as someone's product, into a public domain product, altered from its original version. Eventually, its value is diminished and its original form is altered and diluted. The creator slowly loses the integrity of his/her original inspiration. Mr. John Jolin works with me to negotiate fair agreements for unauthorized use and distribution of my copyright work, most frequently, The Dash poem.
In this age of cyberspace, we are all prey to those who know how to tarnish a reputation using their most powerful weapon, their keyboard. I have learned that it doesn't matter. I know who I am. I know what is in my heart. I am completely open about my copyright enforcement policy. I urge people to read and understand the laws of copyright. I work to prevent my creations from falling into public domain, and that is my right, ethically and legally.
My cyberstalkers have created ludicrous "memes" and images, slander, untrue allegations and defamation that only exemplify their lack of professionalism and desperation. I know why I have to protect my work and I will continue to do so, despite their obsessive (and often frightening) behavior. I am simply an author and a poet, growing my brand and trying to inspire people daily. ~Linda Ellis
As an inspirational author, lately, I've been finding it difficult to be inspired. You might say I've been in sort of a depression. I say "sort of" because I don't know another way to describe this period of my life. "Grand Funk" has been taken I understand. ;-)
I've always been an extremely jovial person, and frankly I'm not very good at being sad. My soul is in constant turmoil just trying to pinpoint the source. Is it aging? Is it health problems manifesting themselves in sections of my psyche? Is it some cornucopia of negativity that has joined forces to work against me? How long will it last? How can I overcome the dark cloud of dismay that hovers over my days?
After several months of soul-searching to determine the origin of my woes, I've determined that it stems from the changes occurring in the world. I've watched too much news and the despair has infiltrated my being. I cannot rectify in my mind the reasons, or erase the images, of the beautiful souls with so much to offer being taken by troubled individuals who have no conscience. I feel the tears the mothers and fathers have shed. I see the children left behind by these senseless murders. It's as though my empathy has been drained and the well of rationale I rely upon for mental balance has run dry.
The world I grew up in, the carefree days of my childhood...are they gone forever? It pains me to realize that disappearing are the opportunities my grandchildren will have to feel life's freedom, to spread their wings without apprehension, to be unburdened by fear, to not have hatred's rhetoric subconsciously infusing their lives.
I resent the pain these troubled souls have inflicted on families, and even selfishly upon myself. Though it pales in comparison, I have experienced loss. I have lost the feelings of safety and security. I have lost the ability to enjoy this life, my life, purely without guilt or misgivings. Yes, I pray. I pray for those whose hearts will never be whole again. I pray for the bullets to cease. I pray that we can find answers, solutions, to alter the warped ideals of individuals who inflict chaos and pain in the lives of strangers to somehow rectify their own inadequacies. I pray for peace.
Please help me in sharing this Conglomerate Prayer. Pray it to God. Pray it to the Universe. Pray it to the sunshine and the rain. Pray it to whomever and whatever you believe in with your heart.