I don’t know about you, but if I come home and find a thousand ants stampeding across my kitchen counter, the first thing I wanna know is: Where’d they come from? I know I’m about to kill them all, but I also know once that’s done, if I don’t know their source, they’re gonna keep coming back. The ants are not actually the problem; they’re the result of the problem, and the problem has a cause. My system is, if I see one or two ants, I wait to kill them. Instead, I watch for a while; I wait until I see them crawl to their entrance so I know exactly what spot to “blow up.” So let’s say they came from a crack in the wall. This is the formula: Crack in wall = cause/source, entryway into house = problem, ants = result. If I focus on eliminating the cause (fix the crack), I can successfully alleviate the problem, which ends the result. But if I get sidetracked and overwhelmed by the ants and only focus on getting rid of them, then I’m off track because I’m under the delusion that I can cure my problem by trying to remedy the result. The best that will happen is that the ants will leave temporarily; but as long as that crack is still in the wall, sooner or later they’ll return because the cause and problem still exist.
It’s the same situation if you have a rash from an allergic reaction. You can put medicine on it all you want, and you may get temporary relief. But until you, for example, stop eating seafood (cause), your allergic reaction (problem) will continue to be the itchy rash (result).
Sometimes, if a cause isn’t dealt with immediately and properly, your problem can spread and produce more than one result. I like to use the tree analogy here. Root (cause), trunk (problem), branches (results). Say emotional trauma is your root, insomnia is your trunk, and your branches are crankiness, lack of energy, inability to focus, and clumsiness. You try to stamp out the effects in different ways, as if you have four separate problems, but never truly get the relief you need because your focus is in the wrong place. Insomnia is your only problem, but even that won’t disappear until you conquer its root: trauma.
I’ll admit that pinpointing the cause of a problem can sometimes be tricky because it may not be as obvious as an action, words, a specific event, or something visible. Many times, the cause stems from unhealthy or misguided thoughts and beliefs about ourselves or certain situations. In that case, we have to work on mastering our minds, balancing our spirits, and making conscious efforts to do whatever it takes to transform on the deepest level so we can quell the problem and deliver new, desirable results to ourselves. Understand that when the results change, it’s because we’ve changed. Our upgraded environment is simply a reflection of the inner work we’ve done.
Getting to the other side of challenges, especially complex ones, may not always be easy. But remembering that [lasting] result elimination will be futile unless the cause is destroyed, will put you in the right position to end your suffering … permanently.
From my book Building Faith and Character Through Life Challenges