Do you have The Good Problem?


The Good Problem consists of three characteristics:

  1. Only good people can contract it.
  2. It is based on an irrational belief that you must take care of everyone else FIRST, be approved of and liked by any and all people, and rarely, if ever, take care of your own emotional, physical, and soulful needs FIRST.
  3. It is REALLY good because it can be rapidly fixable.

Do you have trouble saying no when asked to help someone?   Do you accept invitations because you don’t want to hurt another person’s feelings or perhaps  because you want that person to like you?  How are you with receiving compliments or gifts?  Do you readily accept the compliment/gift or is there always a qualifier, like, “Oh this sweater, I really need to update my wardrobe…” or “You shouldn’t have spent this much money on me, why did you do that?”  I can remember ( I am a recovered Good Problemer) an example, one of seemingly countless episodes of living via the toxicity of the Good Problem, when no matter what I would stop what I was doing and talk to a coworker of mine who would come by my office in the counseling agency  and start a conversation.  Regardless of the charts I needed to complete, the phone calls I had to make…I would sit there, and listen with a seething, hidden resentment while simultaneously  looking  down at the phone and the unfinished charts, desperately hoping he would read my mind and understand I had work to do.

Do you feel you are being a Good person when you disregard your own needs to cater to what you interpret to be the needs of others?  Have you convinced yourself that you are actually being nice and respectful when you do and say what you believe others want to hear?  Do you not allow others to help you when preparing dinner and/or cleaning up?  Do you incessantly ask your guests if everything is cooked just right?  Do you get up and down from the table throughout the meal to check on who knows what?   Do you always say, “It’s up to you…” when asked what you want to do?   Have you noticed an undercurrent of resentment toward the people you are always ‘helping?’


I learned, thankfully, a long time ago that I was unwittingly hiding behind the extraordinarily confused belief that I was actually being nice and helpful to others when I disregarded my own feelings, opinions, and needs.   Regarding my office colleague who preferred talking about sports to doing his own administrative work… I was always frustrated that he would stop every day to talk.  It got to the point that I was really resentful.  He, in turn, eventually discontinued his daily chats.  He began to feel my frustration, I emitted it into the air, a toxic, disingenuous energy that finally drove him away.  Had I candidly said to him, “Bill, I can’t talk right now because I have to finish my charting and make some calls,” I would have communicated a REALNESS and an HONESTY that Bill would have readily accepted and understood.  Bill would have liked and respected me more for my ability to be REAL with him.  This candid style of communication emits a healthy, REAL energy that people are drawn to.

This is the paradox of the Good Problem:  People like and respect you more when you are REAL with them.  This is why the Good Problem can be rapidly fixable!  Real time experimentation will prove it to you.  Begin by being honest with yourself.  Prioritize what you need to do and want to do.  When you take care of yourself FIRST you are not being selfish, you are being healthy and self-respectful.  A second aspect of the Good Problem paradox is when you take care of yourself first, then, AND ONLY THEN, can you really be genuinely available and helpful to others.  So embrace your ability to say no when asked to go out to dinner; accept all compliments, speak your mind candidly and respectfully; let friends and family help you clean up; announce how great the meal is while everyone is eating…people will be comfortable with the REAL energy you bring to the relationship, the interaction.

People who have recovered from the Good Problem find it hilarious that the one thing they never, ever wanted to do they actually did routinely.  A Good Problemer  would never dream of insulting someone.  So it is quite shocking to learn that social psychologists have absolutely determined that when people do not accept compliments or gifts graciously with a smile and a “thank you” that the person giving the compliment feels insulted.  The studies detail that the overwhelming majority of people who are giving the compliments are doing so genuinely.  Thus, the Good Problemer is unintentionally not only insulting the compliment giver, but is also making a judgment that the giver is being disingenuous.

Finally, once you embark on field experimentation that is REAL and honest, you will really begin to feel so GOOD…………