It is commonly thought that problems should be solved objectively, and not emotionally. I have found this to be quite ironic, considering humans are such emotional beings. In the last year, through developing my own self awareness I have broken away from the commonplace notion of avoiding combining problems and emotions. By contemplating and considering the emotions I feel when facing a wicked problem, and truly evaluating what the cause of those emotions might be, I have discovered that I am more strongly connected to problems. My own self awareness also helps me become more considerate of the emotions that might be at play for others. This consideration has allowed me to be more deeply connected with various perspectives and solutions in regards to a wicked problem. Knowing the emotions of others is useful because it creates an opportunity to frame the problem in a way that better addresses the others concerns and perspectives. When people feel their emotions are being acknowledged it is like building a bridge from an unproductive state to a solution focused mindset. This mindset is not one that comes easily, but rather requires large amounts of self reflection and patience. Mindful meditation is the first step to better reflect on the various impacts our choices hold and their unintended consequences. At first it is scary realizing the negative impact your choices may have on humanity, however it is important to embrace that negative feeling and explore why it is scary to address such consequences. When feelings of guilt are ignored, it is easy to disregard that change is needed. Being aware of wicked problems has made me more compassionate. I became aware through practicing mindfulness.
My mindfulness journey included daily meditation and leaning into uncomfortable emotions. Various acts of meditation silenced the drowning of others’ logical perspectives and allowed me to find my own way. Creating time to be mindful is not always easy, but I have been able to do so by taking small moments to reflect. Whether I am walking to class or driving to the grocery store, I’ve found that mindfulness can happen anywhere. Centering around mindfulness helps me go through my day intouch with myself rather than aimlessly going through the motions. When mindful, it is possible to notice things that might have been missed otherwise. Mindfulness has helped me discover compassionate solutions in my own life, whereas before I often only had excuses. Mindfulness has helped me connect with my core values. Having a belief system or a mindful routine can positively impact one’s relationship with themselves.
Mindfulness was the first step in me addressing wicked problems present in my personal life. I used to consume mindlessly and contributed to these problems with the purchase of non-sustainable clothes when fast fashion was rampant. Many of my friends shopped online, purchasing clothes that were not sustainable. The one thing that was constant was the rapidly changing fads and my desire to stay on top of the latest trends. Although strong feelings of guilt deterred me initially, I finally became curious about how my consumption of clothing was affecting others and the environment. I have realized that being able to evaluate the emotional standpoint of what was drawing me to over-consumption has changed my perspective a lot. It was a challenging check in, but I needed to ask myself why it mattered to stay on top of trends. I realized the need to consume came from a lack of self assurance. Through mindfulness, I know now that I am more than what I wear and do not need trendy clothing as a form of validation. Once I separated my emotional needs from clothing consumption, there was another emotion I needed to address; guilt. Realizing how much I consumed created space for me to feel guilty. I first started feeling this guilt when I allowed myself to become educated on wicked problems.
When becoming aware and learning about an issue it is difficult not to be compassionate and form an educated opinion and have emotions regarding the issue, as I have. Becoming emotional and passionate about wicked problems stimulates a desire to want to help in any way I can. In my case I am aware of purchasing sustainable items, buying locally when I can, and donating clothing that I no longer wear. Making conscious choices helps me become more mindful of what or how much I am consuming. Being educated in wicked problems is the first step for making a change. Making small changes and practicing mindful meditation in my daily routine has helped me become aware of my needs versus wants. When being mindful and leaning into compassion, opportunities for learning and growth begin to present themselves everywhere. This perspective is what allowed me to take my academic learnings and transform them into personal growth. Academics without reflection or consideration for real world applications does not implement change.
Addressing wicked problems starting first with my emotional standpoint towards them, has helped me make small lifestyle changes to have a better impact. Wicked problems can be intimidating because they are so large. It is hard not to feel hopeless when wondering how some of them might be solved and this is how I used to feel. The wicked problems cannot only be solved logically. If logic alone is relied upon, then it becomes easy to use logic to justify the problem away. Mindfully exploring a wicked problem from an emotional state helps form moral values and is what drives change. Learning the scale of wicked problems has been a humbling experience and I have learned that when exploring solutions I should keep in mind that what may seem best or work for me might not be attainable for another. Even so, I will continue to respectfully engage others in dialogue surrounding wicked problems. Thoughtful emotional voices are the ones that can drive change. The mindfulness that I have created for myself in response to these wicked problems makes me optimistic that I can be an advocate for such change.