01 Oct 2012

When you need help with problem solving

01 Oct 2012

How to solve a problem, problem solving, how do you solve a problem, how to solve problemsHow many times have you had a problem and no matter how much time you spend thinking about it you just can’t solve it? You stew on it through the day and it keeps you awake at night which increases your stress and dissolves any focus you had to come up with a solution. The more you think about it the more overwhelming it appears and frustrated you become.

Here’s a tip which may be useful.

I’ve seen in many coaching sessions that when a client comes to me with a seemingly unsolvable problem I ask them a few questions which bring the clarity they need.

Ask yourself these questions and see what dawns on you.

  • How many times a day have you been thinking about this problem?
  • How long do you think about it when you do?
  • Do you think about it at night?
  • If so, how long will you think about it then?
  • If this amounts to not a lot of time, is it worth setting aside some time to address it?
  • If this amounts to a huge amount of time, what has been the quality of your thinking during those periods?

Quality thinking time

This is the question that often stumps people. Most put themselves under a lot of stress because they haven’t yet come up with a solution. They spend all that time beating themselves up about it and not spending any quality time being constructive.

How do we get around this?

  1. Set aside some time to lock yourself away from distractions. Take all phones off the hook, quit email, lock the door. Get comfortable with fresh air and plenty of water on hand. You can pretend to be like a patient in the shrink’s office and lie down if you like. You often get clearer thinking in a reclining position.
  2. Forgive yourself for not solving it yet. This is SUCH an important step. The past is behind you and you don’t plan to change it. NOW is the time to look at the problem through fresh eyes. Congratulate yourself for finally getting around to addressing it.
  3. When I’m self coaching I’ll often “vomit” on the page/computer screen all that’s in my mind to clear some space. Vomit is a writer’s term for typing or writing without analysing. Just spilling out everything that comes to mind. Don’t check the spelling or grammar. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or is connected to the previous sentence. Just let it out. If it’s a bundle of troubles on your mind which feel overwhelming, just name each trouble without getting too detailed.
  4. List after each trouble the emotions you feel about it. Acknowledging your emotions actually gives you a little space from the problem. These emotions are what tie you in too close. Listing them on the page helps you to take a more objective stance.
  5. Ask “What is the connecting pattern between these emotions?” You may find this brings up a separate problem that is a deeper issue for you. One that you’ve been stewing on even longer. Or you may just find that you are stressed, have not been eating well, not had exercise or sleeping enough so quality thinking has been alluding you.
  6. Ask “What do I need to feel more comfortable with where I am at?”
  7. If the problem is a big one ask “How can I break this into smaller parts?”
  8. Then ask “What part of this problem would be the most useful for me to solve right now?”

Breaking a big problem down into bite sized chunks can make it clearer to know where to start. Noticing where you, your body and mind are in terms of being able to cope is also an excellent  way of finding a solution.

Do you need to release your stress? Look after yourself better? Get some help or support? Or simply set the time aside to think this problem through?

See if it helps and jump into the new Forum here on the site if you have any questions.

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