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Do You Suffer from Ostrich Syndrome?


It’s easy to think we know a good deal about problems because we have so many of them, but it’s common to see things as problems that aren’t and ignore things that are. “Admitting you have a problem, and the ostrich syndrome” by Dennis Zink (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/20/20, D8) helps us true valid problems and find solutions.

Zink lays out five types of problems: those you 1) know about and are trying to improve, 2) are aware of and ignore, 3) don’t realize exist, 4) want to solve but lack resources or the ability to do so, 5) want to solve but aren’t solvable. He says that type #1 problems are the most common, for example, recognizing that you overeat and paying attention to eating more mindfully. He suggests that if you know you have a problem, say, drinking too much alcohol, and don’t put attention on it, “you may require outside expertise to help you solve the problem.”

He calls type 3 problems difficult to deal with, asking “How can you possibly solve a problem that you don’t know exists?” Let’s say you don’t realize you walk around angry all the time. You might think other people are the problem, not doing what you ask. But often the problem is yourself and your expectations or inability to tolerate frustration or not being in control. In the case of not knowing a problem exists, you can ask others if they see problems you have that you don’t see. This takes guts and the ability to be vulnerable but is a necessary component in living your best life.

According to Zinc, type 4 problems usually require “capital to resolve.” However, resources are not only financial. Maybe you try to do things yourself that are impossible for one person. Or don’t have specific skills and need to learn more about an area to solve your problem. So many dysregulated eaters refuse to ask for help, seeing it as a weakness when it’s really a strength. And they wonder why they remain stuck. There is no shame in seeking help!

Then there are type 5 problems which Zinc calls serious: “Either there is nothing you can do or your choices are limited and only serve to make the best out of an untenable situation.” This may be true in the case if you have a terminal disease. But you can also view type 5 problems as something you simply learn to live with. Perhaps you wish to weigh less than 125 pounds but can eat normally and remain around 130. Or you find it a problem that you don’t know what your future brings, when neither does anyone else.

Look to how reliable others have solved the problems you have and use critical thinking skills to find solutions. Ostriches, take your head out of the sand!