“It’s his responsibility. His responsibility, not mine. That’s what he is paid to do. That’s what accountants are for. If the tax people want to make a fuss, let them get on to him, not me. It’s his responsibility. But I can’t help worrying. Worrying and worrying. Worry that it was my responsibility. I knew they might say it wasn’t quite right. He was trying to do his job. Damn him! He thought I would sack him if he did not do it that way. What a mess!”
It is quite clear there are two problems. There is the major problem of being investigated by the tax authority and the likelihood of being fined. And then there is the associated problem – the inner disquiet of his own conscience. Without the augmentation from the associated problem, the major problem may not reach such a degree of intensity as to produce stress.
The whole situation may be further complicated by some background problem, such as his wife’s unexpected pregnancy. But in the individual’s mind his symptoms of stress are caused, simply and solely, by the tax problem.
The major problem, the tax trouble, must be dealt with, in a practical way, according to established business principles.
The secondary problem, his guilt, and the disturbing influences to his brain arising from it, need to be dealt with by letting his mind run freely for a short period each day to reduce his level of anxiety and so allow his mind to settle. And the background problem, his wife’s pregnancy, requires his mental adjustment to a changed situation.
The difficulty is that the individual sees only the major problem, and is loath to attend to the other matters, which in fact may be the key to resolving the whole situation.