Heres the deal with most people and problem solving.
They don't. Problem solve, I mean. The average human will attempt to solve a problem and stop at the first hiccough, throw their hands in the air, and declare the problem unsolvable. And that would be the end.
I’m not sure if you noticed this, but successful people problem solve. It is, perhaps, even a reason as to why they are successful! I have a friend, a young entrepreneur, who literally takes the phrase “something from nothing” to the next level. She build herself an online empire from her basement and is constantly innovating and doing more. She is the kind of person who, when you casually mention a problem, will have an immediate response of about five solutions. And no, its not patronizing, because you know she isn't peaching, she is just instinctively reacting because this is how she lives. Because this how people who are successful at life live. Life is full of problem, and unless we learn how to solve them, instead of staying stuck IN them, we can never progress.
The funniest thing happened last weekend.
A friend of mine came over with her kids for a playdate, and we were sitting on the deck, watching the kids run around like hyenas.
Prologue: All week,I had been asking my dear husband to pretty please buy some law chairs or patio furniture. I begged and reminded him, Idid everything I could, i even pleaded. pPlease, dear husband, please buy some chairs before the weekend !!
Epilogue: He never bought the chairs.
So there i was, with a pitcher of lemonade, and no chairs. Actually, that’s not strictly true. There was one folding chair out and one tiny little kiddie sized chair on the porch, sitting all lonelily, waiting for some real furniture to arrive. Of course, I offered the normal chair to my friend and, with as much dignity as I could muster, lowered myself onto the kiddie stool, where i remained all afternoon long. And every time my back twinged, I would think myself, if only dear husband had bought some chairs, I would not be sitting in this ridiculous situation. And every time I would get up to get my kids a tissue/ices/wipe/kiss/bandaid/pony holder/left shoe, I would groan inwardly, my knees protesting, silently cursing my husbands inability to perform as simple a task as buying patio furniture.
As the day mercifully came to an end, I picked up the battered wrappers (my kids) and bruised ego (mine) and prepared to head inside when it hit me. Stowed in the closet, in my house, a mere fifteen steps from where I stood, were another four folding chairs like the one I so gallantly offered my friend. Fifteen steps away. Four chairs. Do the math.
Instead of inwardly fuming at my husband all afternoon, I could have simply gone into the closet and got an adult sized folding chair for myself. I could have had a chair for myself, plus a chair for both of us to put our feet on, plus an extra chair to spare. But I didn't even think of it! I didn’t even remember that we OWNED more folding chairs. Because I was so busy fixating on the problem- lack of chairs- and the REASON for the problem- husband forgot to buy them- instead of SOLVING THE PROBLEM- find yourself another chair!! This is a house, we have plenty of them!
The mind naturally gravitates towards complaining about the problem, being stuck in the problematic situation, and all the surrounding factors of the problem- but not the solution itself.
To problem solve, it’s important to take it level by level, and get it done. Analyze the problem as a whole and break it down. No patio furniture? Okay. Ii cant get patio furniture right now. Whats the next best option? A chair. Any chair works. Oh ! I have chairs! Ii have more folding chairs! I’ll go get them. Problem solved (for the time being at least!).
It seems so silly, but yet, we do this all the time. With sadness, with relationships, with self esteem and self worth. Why do we get stuck instead of finding solutions? Perhaps it’s because we get overwhelmed by the problem, distracted by it. Don't be afraid of the problem, approach it, analyze it, figure out how you can fix or at least alleviate it.
The rule with problem solving- there is only one rule- is just DO IT.
Thats it. That’s my advice. The secret to problem solving is to do just that- solve the problems in our lives instead of being stuck in them.
Don't be discouraged by the notion that you're not fixing the problem in its entirety. Fix whatever you can! Like they say, shoot for the moon, because if you miss, whats wrong with a handful of stars?!
Many of my sessions with my clients are simple, basic problem solving. Do it yourself! You don't need me. It’s empowering. Instead of being overwhelmed and stuck, you can literally change your life!