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3 Ways to Tame Monstrous Problems

Take a look at this striking photo of a monster.magnified gnat_matthias_lenke_flickr

We see gigantic, multi-faceted eyes, leathery skin, and hairy, feeler-y things sticking out in the front.

Who knows what those feeler-y things might be hiding? Probably some hideous mouth with powerful, trap-like jaws.

It makes me shudder just looking at it.

Do you know what this scary monster is?

It’s a gnat.

One of those tiny little insects that we swat at impatiently as they flit around our faces.

But it looks pretty scary when it’s magnified hundreds of times, doesn’t it?

This is the exact same thing that can happen when we’re faced with a problem or setback, too.

It can look really scary. So scary, in fact, that we shudder and run away from it.

What we may not know is that we’ve inadvertently magnified the problem so that it seems much, much larger than it really is.

As a matter of fact, it’s taken up our entire field of vision and not only appears frightening, but is preventing us from seeing around it to any kind of solution.

I’m not suggesting that all problems are in reality the size of gnats, but you understand the point: we often magnify and catastrophize situations that may not be as big as we perceive them to be.

So how do we keep problems in perspective?

Here are some ideas:

1. Remember that you’ve had problems in the past and are still here to talk about it.

Just like the magnified gnat taking up all of our visual space, we can allow problems to appear monstrous, too.

We get very focused on the stressful situation at hand and then have a hard time seeing anything else but the problem.

Next time this happens to you, take a deep breath, move a few steps back and get a bigger, longer-term picture.

You’ve had problems before. And you’ve figured them out and been able to move on.

Granted, the one you’re facing now might actually be more complicated or difficult than others.

Still, experience tells you that you’re going to get through this one, too.

2. Look at the problem from a different angle.

That magnified gnat is creepy.

But really, it’s kind of, well, interesting, too.

How often do we get to see the details of such a tiny creature?

So, it’s creepy and interesting.

That’s a different way to look at it, isn’t it?

You can do the same thing with your problem, too. Take a look from a different angle.

Is it creepy and interesting? Even though you don’t like it, is there something the problem is teaching you? Is it ugly but challenging, too?

How many different ways can you look at it?

3. In the scope of things, your problem may actually be a gnat.

The gold standard of gaining perspective remains the same: look at the big picture.

Not the big picture of the gnat, the big picture of life.

When you consider the breadth and scope of your life, how impactful is the situation in front of you? Is it something that will affect you a month from now? A year?

The other day I felt my stress level rising. Unexpected, annoying problems had been popping up all day and I was starting to get very frustrated and annoyed.

But then I caught myself and asked, “You’ve been through days like this before – when was the last one?”

I couldn’t remember.

In the scope of my life, my frustrating day was just not going to end up being a big deal.

I decided to drop the annoyance and frustration. Since this exasperating little episode wasn’t going to make an impact on the breadth of my life, I figured there wasn’t any use in wasting time on feeling annoyed.


The next time you find yourself running in terror from your big, hairy monster-problem, slow down and look again.

It might just be a little gnat.


Ready for more ideas on how to bounce back from problems and setbacks? Download my FREE ebookBounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.

3 Ways to Tame Monstrous Problems

Bobbi Emel, MFT

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. In addition to seeing clients in her private practice, Bobbi is a well-regarded speaker and writer. Check out her other writing at The Bounce Blog.

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APA Reference
Emel, B. (2013). 3 Ways to Tame Monstrous Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Oct 2013
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