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PROBLEM SOLVING

Our entire sojourn in mortality is filled with “problems” to solve … indeed, that’s what life is all about, learning to solve problems and grow in the process! However, calling them problems has a negative “connotation” … why not call them challenges, or situations ... or, in their true perspective, opportunities! The best way to approach any given situation is with a keen sense of curiosity (“What new something can I learn from this?” … something that will benefit you in your relationships with others … something that will make you a better person)! One could even develop an attitude of enthusiasm, looking forward to each day and what it will inevitably afford you! Just (as one person has suggested) turn problems into procedures! Following are a couple articles on procedures you can use to simplify and expedite the processing of your problems (i.e. challenges, situations, ... opportunities*). They come from an excellent resource you will want to visit (http://web4health.info/en)! --

Problem Solving Techniques : How to Solve Personal Problems
(Written by: Martin Winkler; First version: 27 Nov 2006. Latest revision: 27 Nov 2006)

Question(s):
How do I learn to solve my problems? Which problem solving techniques do you recommend? Describe a systematic approach to solve problems.

Answer:
One of the most effective strategies to improve the quality of life for a client is a systematic approach for problem-solving. At the beginning of any psychotherapy, clients usually expect that the therapist will find an answer to all possible problems in life. However, in the course of therapy the clients learn to find their own solutions for their problems. He or she should use prior experiences in life and adapt useful strategies to find appropriate solutions in a structured and systematic way with problem solving strategies.

It is always a very useful approach to think of successful strategies for problems in the past. Train yourself to adapt useful problem-solving techniques to new situations!

Here is one of many possible models of problem solving.

1. Problem identification. What is my concern?
2. Goal definition. What do I want to achieve or change?
3. Brainstorming. What can I do?
4. Consequences. What might happen?
5. Decision. How should I do it?
6. Implementation. Do it!
7. Evaluation. Did it work?

These seven simple steps can be applied to nearly all kinds of problems in life. Let's go into detail with a problem of one of my clients:

Daniel is a 52 year old patient with depression and panic attacks. One of his major problems was to leave the house to go for a walk or consult the doctor or therapist.

1. Problem identification
Try to give a precise description of your problems. You should try to focus on behaviors or skill deficits.

2. Goal definition
You should try to set a precise goal of your efforts. This should be a realistic aim of improvement (not "I want to feel better"). Ask yourself: "What do I want to change or achieve right now?"

3. Brainstorming / Generation of alternatives.
Try to think of all possible ways to achieve your goal. Think of successful ways of solving problems or achieving your goals in the past. Use your creativity and do not restrict yourself in any way. Even nonsensical or unusual ways might be worth to consider. Write all alternatives on a blank sheet of paper!

4. Consider all consequences.
Now it is time to think about the positive or negative consequences of all possible alternatives. Think about any outcome or difficulties of your approaches. This step can be split into substeps: a. What are the advantages? It is better to look at the advantages before looking at the disadvantages, since if you start looking at the disadvantages you may get so disillusioned that you cannot think of any advantages. b. What are the risks, what care is needed, what problems can occur? c. How do you intuitively feel about the alternatives?

5. Make your choice of one possible alternative!
It is important to make a clear choice and define a time limit for an attempt to reach your goal.

6. Do it (Implementation of your decision)
Do not worry about being successful. Just do it and see what happens...

7. Evaluation
Now it is time to see what happened. If you have been successful: Great!!!! You should think about a reward for your efforts!!!!

  

How to Change Life:
Changing Yourself Step By Step; Coping with Problems; Breaking a Habit

(Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy; First version: 26 Nov 2006. Latest revision: 26 Nov 2006)

Question(s):
How can I change my behavior? How to change life? How break a bad habit?

Answer:
If you want to solve your problems, you must be active and this often involves changing your habits and ways of thinking.

For example, you may want to reduce your weight, find a better job, complete a difficult task, or change your relations to other people.

These problems are difficult and extensive. To be successful, it might help to divide them into a number of smaller objectives. Begin with the one that comes first and then set new objectives. You do not have to make a list of all the objectives in advance.

Every objective must be clearly defined; e.g., if you want to reduce your weight, you may begin by deciding to take more exercise, but this is not at all clearly defined. It would be better to state that you intend to walk or cycle for 30 minutes a day. It might be wise not to demand perfection from yourself. You could, for example, decide to exercise 30 minutes at least five days a week instead of 30 minutes a day. That gives you the possibility to succeed even if you don't manage to do it every day.

If you want to achieve a big change, it can be a good idea to divide it into a series of small short-time subgoals, which step by step will bring you closer to your final goal. For example, if your home is unclean and messy and you don't have the energy to clean it all at once, you could decide to clean for 30 minutes a day or do one room every Saturday and finally get the nice, clean home you long for, after a few weeks. It is often easier to make small changes, one at a time, than large changes in your way of living. To completely change your eating habits may, for example, seem insurmountable. But if you take one step at a time, you will, after several steps, notice that you have achieved much more than you first thought possible.

It is obvious that this approach can be applied to almost anything you want to do.

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* Nothing will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem more quickly than a series/succession of completed tasks ... of taking advantage of life's "opportunities"! For further insights into WHY we have problems, trials, difficulties ... read Why is Life So Hard?

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