How we see something is everything. It can make all the difference between happiness and success and sadness and failure- it’s all in how you look at it.
I’d like to tell you a short story about my boiler and how it has been teaching me a new way of looking at, and classifying, daily problems in the hope that it can help you too.
My boiler is a combi-boiler and so provides both hot water and heats my home. It’s old and will eventually need replacing, and so I’ve had several people out to look at it several times recently. Currently I’ve got some heating that comes and goes a bit randomly and a bit of hot water, there might be 30 seconds of hot water in a shower, or a surprise scolding ten seconds of hot water when doing the dishes! It’s infrequent, it’s unreliable, it’s infuriating.
And it got me thinking. Why was it bugging me so much? Well firstly because I’d like it to be fixed, probably with a new boiler. But at the moment, that’s not an option, therefore I currently have to make do with it for the near future – I have a “boiler problem.”
Have you got a boiler problem? Something in your life that isn’t how you want it and is currently beyond your control to fix, improve or sort and so you are having to make do for now? You are not alone. At the moment, there are so many people whom I talk to and interact with who tell me such, from small annoying things to very large and challenging circumstances. They all share the same characteristics- unusual circumstances- problem- cannot be solved for now-have to make do. We are all currently experiencing boiler problems, things that normally would not be an issue or a hassle, but are, through not fault of our own, currently a challenge.
Examples of boiler problems we are currently experiencing
A boiler problem- a difficult circumstance, which you are currently unable to solve and this make due, caused by exceptionally unusual circumstances
Here are some examples of boiler problems, which I have gleaned from family, friends and business colleagues recently:
• Having to queue for an hour just to go inside a supermarket and go shopping
• Going to a pharmacy and being told medicines will not be available for a week
• Not being able to leave the house more than once a day
• Having to cut your own hair
• Losing certain parts of your income for your business
• Not being able to hug anyone
• Not being able to visit family and friends
• Feeling a sense of helplessness regularly – usually daily
• Everyday activities requiring much more effort than normal
• Emotional exhaustion coming to the surface seemingly out of nowhere
Have you experienced any of these recently?
Can you relate to them?
What we can do about them
Here is a simple five step mental re-framing tool to help you to deal with these situations.

Recognise and classify

When you’re experiencing a problem, take a minute to classify it. If there’s something positive you can do to start a solution, go for it. If there’s absolutely nothing you can do, then leave it. But if there are small things you can do to make do for now, until a better opportunity comes in the future, then it’s a boiler problem – and there’s still plenty of positives that can come from it.

Accept and endure

If it’s something you have to endure for now, then accept it. There is nothing to be gained from denying something, or pretending it isn’t happening. Accepting that you will have to endure it for now sets your mental parameters and provides you with the fact that you are currently having to make do, and sometimes, that can be ok for a short time. Also, by accepting it, you will not be wasting mental energy trying to solve something that is at the moment, beyond your control. That acceptance will help to calm you down and allow you to move onto the next step, which is all about how to handle the problem.

Be kind to yourself

Boiler problems are usually not our own doing – so there’s no need to beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and recognise that you are experiencing some situations and circumstances that are beyond your control – like the weather. Now is not the time for self criticism, that can come later. Follow the five steps and speak to yourself kindly, like you would a loved one or a close friend. Boiler problems can be the worst, because they can come out of nowhere and make us feel helpless – but you are not helpless. You can control your reactions; and even if you can’t and have moments when you freak out, that’s ok too. Be kind to yourself and you will get through.

Plan for the future

This last step is brilliant for helping take you mentally outside of what may be a currently challenging situation. Make some plans, dream, visualise what you can do in the near future to be happy and enjoy your life. It might be having a family party, going on a holiday, just spending time outside or growing your business. Whatever it is, actively spend time thinking about this, and it will remind your mind that part of what makes a problem a boiler problem, is that it is temporary. It does not last. So taking time to think about when it is solved will excite you, energise you and make you feel good about your future.
Hope must be built and nourished daily

Get curious and creative

Firstly, ask yourself what about the situation frustrates or annoys you. Is it that bad? Is it something you could learn to live with for a short time, like a bad hair cut or buying the wrong milk? Something that is actually quite small in the big scheme of things? If so, great, try that. If it is something larger and more serious, such as a mental health problem, then consider reaching out to get help and support from others – you would be amazed how much you can benefit from talking openly with a trusted friend. Keep bringing curiosity to your reactions to boiler problems and that will help to soothe the natural frustration that you may feel whilst experiencing them.


Here some suggested ideas of using your curiosity to make do and mend your potential boiler problems:

Having to queue for an hour just to go inside a supermarket and go shopping
Accept the challenge and just do it. Listen to some music or an audiobook. Be grateful for the fact you have a local shop that provides food for you. Try online click and collect – plan ahead for this – if you really struggle with crowds and shopping at the moment

Going to a pharmacy and being told medicines will not be available for a week-
Make do for now-can you use hot water bottles, abstain from certain foods? Can you change your schedule to make things easier for yourself until you get your medicines?

Not being able to leave the house more than once a day
Make that an exercise session and get hot and sweaty. Or do some mindful walking and look around at all the different houses and nature. Be thankful that you can actually leave your house. Stand outside your door and breathe the fresh air deeply

Having to cut your own hair or grow it
Embrace it! Give it a go. Don’t take yourself seriously. Everyone is having to do the same. Look forward to that exciting reunion with your hairdresser in the near future!

Losing certain parts of your income for your business.

Accept this and plan on what you can do now. Can you generate new sources of income? Plan for your future. Reduce your outgoings. Brainstorm, experiment, try new things. Be open to new possibilities- do not focus on giving in, focus on surviving

Not being able to hug anyone or visit family and friends
Visualise just how good it is going to be when you can, because it’s just a matter of time. Plan out a family reunion party to look forward to.

Feeling a sense of helplessness regularly – usually daily
Journal how you are feeling each day. Are there certain times of the day when you feel like this? If so, you can expect them, not panic when they come, and ride them out

Everyday activities requiring much more effort than normal
Plan for this. Ask for help if you live with others. Reduce the amount of quantity that you are doing and focus on quality. For example, rather than having 3 zoom business calls, have 1 and spend extra time doing follow up action work to create solutions and possibilities. Or do a menu plan for the week and stick to it, so you do not have to spend energy making decisions on what to eat daily.

Emotional exhaustion coming to the surface seemingly out of nowhere
This is a big one. Recognise that it has come and make time to regularly calm yourself down throughout the day. For example, first thing in the morning, just after lunch and dinner, stand outside and slowly breathe some fresh air. Take the time before and after activities that cause stress to actively calm yourself down – drink some tea, sit, breathe. Give yourself five minutes on your own. Do this regularly.

Final thoughts…

I had a recent conversation with somebody and they were exasperated by being told at work to “pick their battles.” They were being advised that they couldn’t win all the time, they had to make concessions, they had to compromise, and she hated that idea. So we talked about it a bit, and I suggested that sometimes you may indeed have to pick your battles, but she hadn’t been told the missing second part of that phrase, to win the war. Classifying certain situations as boilers problems, and so not having to spend mental energy trying to solve them or fix them right away, will allow you to focus on the long term wins, the end of the war, the peace and good times that are coming. And by doing this, you will receive the mental strength and enthusiasm to keep going, to remember that no problem lasts forever. And who knows, perhaps one day soon I’ll be writing to you having had a lovely warm bath, with a brand new boiler!

Love and best wishes,

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