Finding solution for one’s problem is something I, and probably you, deal with on a daily basis. People come to me to get that solution “coached out” of them or, even worse, to be told. Friends and family ask your take on their problems or use you as a sounding board to work through them.
When it comes to problem solving, I live by a good old quote by Albert Einstein “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
What we tend to do when we realise we have a problem is to think ourselves to complete paralysis. This mulling over things in your head, on emotional level, is deepening the problem and not getting you any closer to the solution.
Using the same kind of thinking means not shifting the perception or changing the approach, not seeing the bigger picture, not surrendering the attachment to the outcome, simply not allowing a moment to take a deep breath.
How can we change our thinking?
- The least we can do is to take a moment and have few deep breaths. That alone will give us a shift in physiology because the brain operates better when it has enough oxygen.
- Take a warm shower, go for a walk or a run, listen to some music and wiggle our bums. These activities trigger the dopamine release into the brain. That’s when we are most likely to come up with the best ideas and solutions. It is important to remember that our physiology impacts directly how we feel, and it is the easiest thing to change. Motion is emotion, so the worst we can do is sit at our desks crunched up expecting an epiphany.
- Get some distance between ourselves and the problem because only then we can see the bigger picture, the context in which the problem occurred. Distance removes the unnecessary “drama”.
- Allow space for the solution to come in. Only when the mind is quiet we can have an insight or a resolution.
- Put the wise hat on. Imagine the problem was not yours but your friend’s, what advice would you give him/her if you really wanted to help?
- Be curious. What opportunity is there that you may not be seeing? If you really wanted to see an opportunity in this situation, what would it be? Problem always equals opportunity. Is it an opportunity to step up, to change direction, to create meaning? If we made this shift in perception we would never have problems.
- If none of the above is working, we need to honestly ask ourselves if we want to be helped because there is such thing as attachment to the problem. Sometimes problem becomes an identity, it starts serving a purpose. This is a whole new subject though.
Before you reach out to anybody else in an attempt to find a solution, try this on your own. Soon enough it will become a valuable skill. As the Italian proverb goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for his lifetime”.