The Problem is Not the Problem

Rummaging around online one day, I found this quote: “The problem is not the problem.”

It resonated with me. I thought it described the nature of reality in very simple terms.

So, I added it to my list of screen savers. And now, I see it on my computer screen as it rotates through a bevy of sayings about every 9 minutes. Reminding me that what we think is the problem, more times than not, is not the problem.

Our bodies are ecosystems. Ecosystems are a framework where various components interact with each other. These interactions play a crucial role in shaping the ecosystem’s structure, function, and overall health. There is a complex interdependent (the dependence of two or more things on each other) relationship linking the components or organs within our bodies.  Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body is engaged in a mutually reliant relationship with all the other cells, tissues, and organs in your body. They all depend on each other for optimal health. When one area of the ecosystem breaks down, and experiences disease, every component of the ecosystem is affected.

“The Problem is not the Problem.”

Western philosophy towards managing illness is simple: there is a pill, shot, cream, or operation to fix your health problem. The problem with this approach is that it traces disease only back to its symptoms. And treating the symptoms is a short-term fix.  Treating the root cause is a long-term fix. 

I used to get dry skin or eczema on my thumb. It was clockwork and only on my thumb. There was not much I could do to make it stop. Year after year that one area would ebb and flow with dry, flaky skin.  Scratch, scratch, scratch. I went to a dermatologist, and he prescribed a cream. But the cream didn’t work great. Then, I found an over-the-counter cream that managed the itching and dry skin masterfully. This stuff was a miracle. I bought it by the case. But then something truly magnificent happened. It just stopped. I stocked up on cases of cream, and it just stopped. Hmm…what gives? Well, around that time, I stopped drinking alcohol.  BAM! That was it. And it hasn’t returned since I stopped drinking alcohol. The cream was a short-term fix; stopping alcohol was a permanent fix.

The problem was not the dry skin; the problem was the alcohol. 

If you are overweight, this shot will make you skinny. If you have dry skin, this cream will hydrate it. If you have high cholesterol, this pill will reduce it.  If you have cancer, this chemical will eradicate it. If you are depressed, this pill will make you happy. You get the idea… 

So often, the problem is not the problem.

The human body is a complex, interconnected ecosystem of components like cells, tissue, and organs. And, they are designed to ALL work together to maintain health. Every component of the human ecosystem has its marching orders and will execute those orders to the best of its abilities. Your cells, tissue, and organs know and understand their primary directive. As such, the human body is programmed for healthy function. The human body is even capable of defending itself against outside influences that breach the ecosystem and create disease and illness.

The human body is an intricate and complex interconnected ecosystem that, at times, is hard to understand. This complexity can be attributed to a few factors. First, the human body often exhibits non-linear behaviors, where small changes result in disproportionately large effects. This makes predicting outcomes and understanding cause-and-effect relationships challenging. Second, our ecosystem contains feedback loops where changes in one component can influence other components, which in turn can impact the original component. And finally, the human body exhibits emergent properties, which means that the system displays properties that are not evident from looking at the individual components. This phenomenon adds an extra layer of complexity.

Now do you see why treating the symptoms with a pill or cream or cutting the intrusion out is so much simpler than identifying the root cause? Identifying the root cause, at times, takes deep introspection, personal accountability and sacrifice.

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