I came across this distinction watching a conversation of two very bright people discussing world affairs.
Problems have solutions…predicaments have outcomes…
The distinction was attributed to John Michael Greer who wrote The Long Descent: A User’s Guide To The End Of The Industrial Age and other books, none of which I have read.
"The distinction boils down to this: problems have solutions; predicaments have outcomes. A solution to a problem fixes it, returning all to its original condition. Once a suitable solution can be found and made to work, a problem can be solved. A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people can develop responses, but not solutions. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but no response can erase a predicament. Predicaments have outcomes that can be managed, but circumstances cannot be returned to their original state."
An example of a predicament would be something like global warming.
The reason I thought this might be useful and of interest to this community is that it seems to me that the majority of what we work with in our lives, the things we tap on, are not problems but predicaments that we will need to learn to manage and develop responses to and develop an array of outer resources and inner resourcefulness to respond in a way that moves us, perhaps only in baby steps, toward thriving and emotional freedom…but we can’t ‘fix’ it like it is a ‘problem’…we can’t go back to a ‘pre-problem state’. . There is not going to be an easy ‘solution’ that restores us to some imaginary or ideal ‘before the problem existed’ state. And this is a REALLY useful and important concept for me to consider…it’s kind of revelatory in fact. I’m really aware of how often I have the wish, that after some tapping, maybe a lot of tapping and other things, that I can somehow magically be returned to some ideal ‘pre-problem state’…but that’s not the nature of predicaments. The idea of a ‘pre-problem’ existence is a beautiful, seductive fantasy that I find SO attractive. Now that I have some vocabulary and a concept that makes an important distinction for me it feels a bit more okay, a bit more understandable that an easy fix is not a reasonable expectation.