MetaChoose a better class of problem (self.TheRedPill)

submitted by 1thiasus

Summary: when improving your life, you never get to 'solve' a problem area, you only ever get to choose a better class of problem. Thinking this way is far more conductive to making actual progress.

Body: This is a simple but effective mental strategy to reframing your problem -> analysis -> implementation process when dealing with life improvement.

Instead of thinking of solving a problem area of your life, think of it in terms of choosing a better class of problem.

Are you fat? choose to have a better problem: how to stay within a daily caloric budget without feeling too hungry.

Are you flabby? choose to have a better problem: how to fit in gym 3x a week with your schedule.

Are you shy? choose to have a better problem: how to handle the embarassment after having talked to a stranger in public.

Are you in debt? choose to have a better problem: how to save X dollars a week.

Why this works

This is conceptually similar to breaking down your goals into manageable intermediate steps, but rather than working on the rational side of you (which, for the most part, knows full well what ought to be done) it acts on the irrational side of you: the side that looks at that detailed, step-by-step plan, and still thinks about the seemingly unachievable ultimate goal rather than that first reasonable step.

When you tell yourself "My problem is not being fat, my problem is finding a way to stay within X calories per day" you get our mind off that distant big goal and thinking of the here and now. It's a way to consciously trigger an uncoscious realignment of your mental focus.

How to implement it in practice

When you are trying to handle a problem area of your life, consciously reframe it in terms of choosing a better class of problem.

Say to yourself: "My problem is not bad grades, it's how to study X hours a day"

Say to yourself: "My problem is not being fat, it's how to eat X calories per day"

Say to yourself: "My problem is not being shy, it's how to handle being embarassed after talking to that girl"

Verbalize this thought, either with your inner voice or out loud. It will snap you out of aimlessly wondering about your 'big' problem and will get your mind on the practical steps at hand.

Lesson learned

Consciously reframe your problems in terms not of solving them but of choosing a better class of problem in their stead to get your subconscious focused on practical solutions rather than aimless despair. If you don't know how to reframe your problem, post here in the comments or PM me and I'll help you do that.

Read this post and others like it on TRP's new platform: https://www.trp.red/b/thiasus

[–]DarkisKnight 91 points92 points  (13 children)

Practical, pragmatic advice is all too infrequent here on TRP. Thanks for the helpful post.

I've read about techniques like this before. Where did you get this from? Is there a book or article that this comes from?

[–]simiangeek 15 points16 points  (2 children)

I agree as well, good post. Thank you.

I heard something similar listening to Tony Robbins' Personal Power-it's all about the question you want your brain to answer. Give it a good question, you'll get a good answer. Give it a bad question, you'll get a fucked up answer.

[–]bvolkl 10 points11 points  (0 children)

"You can tell a clever man by his answers and a wise man by his questions." -Some wise guy

[–]ShounenEgo 7 points8 points  (1 child)

I was a loser depressed nerd who focused into gaming - sleep - gaming even after I got introduced to trp for a while.

What helped me in practical terms was in part /u/illimitableman's blog post in "How to be happy" and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods. It's the kind of "grab a piece of paper, write down your self-destructive thought that comes up when you think of doing X and find a counter-argument" exercises that within a week or 4 they led me give a fuck about myself.

Another example: "Ok, how do I find my passion in a creative activity?" - Grab a bunch of activities you want to try, do them for 1 pomodoro a day (20-25 minutes) for 10 days and notice how often your mind refers back to them. Most people try to shove down their throat everything and the kitchen sink because "at that moment when they decide to do something" they're feeling motivated and they overestimate themselves. Kind of like ordering more food than you can eat when you're hungry.

[–]1Soarinc 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That was me -- I beat it by blaming my withdrawal from gaming -- ON THE GAME and I turned my suffering onto the thing which I was addicted to, thus mindfucking me and no longer in that self-destructive behavior. It sucks to know you could have gotten 0.3 or 0.5 higher gpa last semester if it weren't for unjustifiable gaming habit.

[–]sir_wankalot_here 8 points9 points  (0 children)

There are lots of books on these types of subjects. Usually in the marketing genre. I mentioned the book "selling ice to Eskimos" book in a couple other comments.

Summary manager too over losing sports team, he didn't have a budget to get better players. His original frame was "How can I get the team to win more games ?", he then changed the frame to " How can I get more people to attend games ?"

When he changed the frame, he was able to make the team on of the most profitable in the league.

[–]Dopebear 2 points3 points  (2 children)

I agree. I personally feel there's way too much 'sexual game' on here and too few of advice of other topics (financial, psychological etc)

[–]1Soarinc 1 point2 points  (1 child)

There was a BRILLIANT article on dopamine and motivation on here some time ago.

[–]nurse_cameltoe 3 points3 points [recovered]

Somewhat tangential but I highly recommend the book "The Master Key System". It relates to meditation and training how you think. Some may feel its new-agey but it was written in 1912 by a 32nd degree Freemason. It has helped me a great deal

[–]DarkisKnight 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hey thanks, I'll take a look.

[–]1wakethfkupneo 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You should study NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). They are the masters of reframing and where this excellent OPs technique originates from. Can't point to single best source, but I'd start with simple google "nlp reframing". And any other nlp tool, for that matter, they have many goodies, both for influencing self and others (manipulation).

[–]deeman010 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'd just like to share cause it seemed as if reclassifying problems has been something instilled in me from a young age and, no surprise, it was my father who taught me. I'm not sure if he learned it from a book/ media or just from experience though...

[–]Endorsed ContributorMentORPHEUS 18 points19 points  (1 child)

I like this post. Unlike generalized feel-good advice (Just put one foot in front of the other; You can do it!) this is useful and directly actionable information.

Sometimes it's not enough to break down a large change or task into manageable components; reframing it conceptually like this gets you over the intangible psychological hump in your way.

[–]yumyumgivemesome 14 points15 points  (7 children)

Ctrl + F: lazy, procrastination


Damn. I need to reframe:

  1. "My problem is not that I'm lazy, it's how to fit in 8 solid hours of focused work every day."

  2. "My problem is not that I procrastinate with my assignments, it's how to focus my work into 20 minute increments."

Would certainly appreciate better phrasing if anyone has better ideas.

[–]psyEDk 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Start at "I'm lazy" and keep asking yourself "but why" like an unrelenting curious kid would, till you reach a soul shattering epiphany as you realise the root of it all.

[–]ThaDilemma 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Good ole fashioned introspection.

[–]1thiasus[S] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

"My problem is not being lazy, it's how to remove distractions which I use to procrastinate"


"My problem is not that I'm lazy, it's how to handle the feeling of discomfort when I start working"

If you can tell me more about your type of procrastination I'll narrow it down. When I had trouble with procrastinating studying, I had specific issues with how I felt when I turned the first page, for example; but I knew someone who just got massively distracted by all the other shit he had going on around him.

[–]yumyumgivemesome 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I really like that second one. Not instead of the other reframings, but in addition to them. That discomfort of hard work, just like lifting weights and jogging and eating healthier, is exactly what we need to endure when so much instant gratification is available at our fingertips.

[–]should_ 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Maybe like

  1. My problem is not that I'm lazy, it's figuring out when the break/rest part of my schedule is going to be today.

Came to the comments to find a good way to frame "lazy" too.

I have three simple actions I want to take up the absolute majority of my time/day/life, but most of it is still reading, which I love but want to reduce exponentially.

[–]Knowmadik 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Good shit. A good way to focus on correcting the problem instead of focusing ON the problem.

[–]1IamGale 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Are you shy? choose to have a better problem: how to handle the embarassment after having talked to a stranger in public.

Love this because you're reframing problems to show the solution and I can personally relate with shyness. So I appreciate you putting it like this.

[–]fearl3ss 4 points5 points  (1 child)

This is called "chunking" the problem, and you can do this several levels down.

For example:

"Are you fat? choose to have a better problem: how to stay within a daily caloric budget without feeling too hungry."

This can be chunked further:

  • Is it easier for me to plan out my meals ahead of time, or track my calories using an app?
  • Where are my biggest weak points? (Beer after work is a habit)
  • If I break my rule one day, how do I recover?
  • Is there a meal plan I can buy to make this simpler for me?

If you invest at least 1 hour of thinking about what you're about to do BEFORE you start doing it, you're in a much better place. Break the problem down first and consider all of the sub-problems and potential shortcuts at your disposal.

[–]trumpisafaggybeta 1 point2 points  (0 children)

While I agree that planning is absolutely necessary, I think that the biggest hurdle for most fat people is developing the iron discipline needed to make a genuine lifestyle change. I did it once when I lost over 100 pounds years ago, and I can pinpoint the moments where I could've eaten shitty foods, but instead stuck to my diet. Unless you have the proper motivation to begin with, any sort of planning won't help. Likewise with clean bulking and exercising.

[–]winterequinox007 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Haven't seen this kind of advice. Selecting your battles wisely is equivalent to developing a new perspective in the long run. Rather refreshing actually.

[–][deleted] 5 points5 points

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[–]AnAbsoluteSith 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I was thinking about this just yesterday: thanks for putting my abstract thoughts into actual words. I've been trying to implement changes over the past however many months now and, naturally, there have been instances where I've fallen off the horse. However now that the overarching goal is self-improvement I've been a lot more cognizant of the underlying factors that caused my setback.

The conclusion that's becoming more clear each time is that it's actually quite easy to lose track of your goals and the necessary steps required at each corner. It's almost as though you forget. I realised that I'd need to implement some system of checks and balances to ensure it doesn't happen.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Say to yourself: "My problem is not being shy, it's how to handle being embarassed after talking to that girl"

An advice I've read somewhere about dealing with fears included the idea or writing down what's the worse possible outcome and figuring out how you'd deal with it.

[–]Rob_Dead 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Excellent post. This is real redpill thinking. AWALT and all the other bitching and moaning that goes on masks the truth of Self Improvement.

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (5 children)

Great advice. I need to implement this when it comes to approaching girls.

[–]Knowmadik 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Are you really going to cut your dick off if you jerk off within 90 days?

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Lolllll it was a self motivating device. I'm at 28 days and I still haven't jerked off so I probably won't have to.

[–]Knowmadik 8 points9 points  (1 child)

I hope not for your sake. I don't know how it works over at nofap, but here at TRP, a deal is a deal. 😊

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Lol I'm still going strong I won't have to get rid of what makes me a man. I barely pay attention to Nofap anymore since I'm doing so well and just worry about Red Pill since I'm able to work on myself without the fucking porn.

[–][deleted] 2 points2 points

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[–]psyEDk 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for this post man. Rally inspiring food for thought.

I only wish we had more nuggets and pearls like this to share, rather than (mostly fictional) field reports and stories amounting to little more than "girls dumb, guys strong" kinds of messages.

[–]BoredOnATuesdayNight 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Excellent advice! This is one of the reasons I enjoy BJJ. This is the exact mentality that it helps to develop.

[–]therealthing95 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Excellent post, I think it helps by making ur problems appear more actionable. 👍

[–]yGTWgtNrco 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The very first step to solving a problem is to identify exactly what the problem you need to solve is. For example, if one can't hold down a job, there are a myriad of reasons why this might be the case. Finding out the right reason is key to solving it. Oftentimes, the statement of the problem ("I can't hold down a job") is not the problem itself, rather how the underlying problem manifests itself in reality.

[–]trumpisafaggybeta 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you're flabby you still need to adjust your diet to cut down BF til you are able to bulk-- this is done primarily through dieting, just like with the fat dude.

[–]A_DERPING_ULTRALISK 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Great post. Just like in the office, don't go to your boss with problems, go to him with solutions.

Side note: if you're struggling with losing weight, try keto. 2 months in and I went from 194lbs to 178lbs. Yeah my lifts stalled, but what's the point in keeping the numbers climbing if you're a fat fuck? Summers coming.

[–]Luis_McLovin 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is a golden way to think. Thank you. I've commit to this.

[–]endogenic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The quality of answers is determined by the quality of questions.

Similarly, changing oneself for the better is possible by making good problems for oneself.

[–]TheRedStoic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Small daily tasks to gain large goals and replace/improve habits.

An excellent reminder to those who already perform habit modification consistently, or provocation to action for the uninitiated. Thank you.

there are no big choices, only small ones with big dedication adding together.

[–]bnine_ 0 points1 point  (2 children)

How do i reframe "i should get up earlier"?

[–]1thiasus[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

"My probem isn't getting up earlier, it's finding a way not to return to bed after switching off the alarm"


"My problem isn't getting up earlier, it's finding a way to deal with the grogginess I feel when I do"

[–]bnine_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)


btw grogginess is a problem, yes

[–]wetpaperbagframerisk 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think this works well also in thinking about your career and mission in life. That's how I read your title and thought about it initially. Find better bigger more impact and more complex problems to solve. Like Seth Godin said: complex jobs are hard to learn and easy to do, but paid well because few people spent the time and have the brains to do it (think physician, attorney etc). Other jobs are easy to learn but hard to do, thus they pay a lot less since there's a low barrier to entry (think ditch digging, crops picking etc.).

So apply yourself to solve better, bigger, more complex world problems.

[–]harami_number1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I need to study, get good grades in college so I can get into the masters program at the reputed university I am aiming for. The entrance exam is in June, I keep telling myself that I should start studying, but I end up wasting time procrastinating, listening to the same music over and over again, porn, reddit etc.

how do i frame this problem?

[–]1Soarinc 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'll also add - have like a journal or something under your alarm clock that you write daily or weekly updates into achieving X Y or Z goal.

I work best with 4 goals at a time -- usually I make progress in 2 goals, go backwards in 1, and flatline in 1

It's just a simple thing and it helps me feel like just by writing down updates the goals are sorta taking care of themselves via some "auto pilot" mechanism that just happens to activate whenever I write down benchmarks toward achieving the goals.

[–]nebojssha -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

I hate people. Should I transfer to how to hate people in public?