THE ART OF SOLVING PROBLEMS

by stresswinner on July 8, 2011

“The problems of the world today are so complex that even teenagers don’t have the answer!”

Feeling stressed and worried? Many people are these days, but don’t let worry consist of just ‘spinning your wheels’. Focus your anxiety and find solutions! First list all your worries, then organize them into specific problem areas such as work, money or relationships. Then put one problem on each page of a notebook and start looking for answers. Gather information from your library, the internet, family and friends—or better still, talk to someone who has overcome a similar difficulty.

Next, regularly take time to physically relax, and, with the information you’ve collected in mind, let your brain wander freely, generating lots of solutions— without bothering whether they’re sensible or not. Do this regularly, and new ideas will pop into your mind all the time.

Write down every idea that you get. Most solutions may be ridiculous or impractical —but out of a hundred weird ideas you’ll get at least one that’s really useful! Remember, “the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

Facing a massive problem? Break it down into smaller parts and deal with each in turn. For example, being laid off means dealing with money problems, finding a new job, what line of work to change to if you must, and how your family is reacting.

Try to turn the negative into positive. Ask “how might this problem actually make my life better?” A used car saleswoman so hated selling ‘lemons’ that she started a successful business checking out used cars, so if all you have is lemons—make lemonade!

Look for something humorous about your situation which might lead to a creative solution, and ask yourself if you might be contributing to the problem. For example, if you’re in conflict with someone, is it totally their fault, or does it have something to do with your attitudes, feelings or actions?

Once you have a good idea, make a mental picture of it succeeding. Picture each step that’s needed, imagine what resources you require, then list the steps and the date when you plan to complete each one.

If you have several options it can be hard to decide what to do, and this just creates more stress! Make a list of the good and bad points of each. Positive points count +1, negatives count -1, and just add up the scores to find out which is best. Or, on paper, draw a circle representing your present situation then draw lines away from the circle representing your main choices.

Each major decision, such as whether to stay in a job or relationship, will have various consequences, like smaller branches. Picture how each branch or consequence might look and feel like. If it’s no good, mentally retrace your steps, make another choice and repeat the process until you have a plan you can live with.

Stress is part of life, and if we are to thrive on it and not be harmed, we must accurately identify our problems , find solutions, make plans and then take action without being paralyzed by fear of failure.

As Theodore Roosevelt said: “The only person who never makes a mistake is the person who never does anything.”

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