Solving simple problems

I love the idea that simple things can be done to solve or reduce problems that significantly impact us.

Whilst on a walk, I pondered on a problem I knew how to solve but had avoided. Yet, I was aware that if I did nothing, I’d get the repercussions later and potentially feel frustrated at myself and the other people involved.

When the thing that is bothering us involves other people, it is often the part of us that wants to people please, keep the peace and manage other people’s feelings that stops us saying something. It’s to the point where we’d rather experience discomfort and allow something we aren’t okay with.

That’s not a healthy or helpful way to live.

On my walk, I thought about a way to overcome this issue

Firstly make a table. In the first column, write a list of problems, challenges or anything that is bothering you.

Next, write what’s stopping you solve things.

Then, for each problem write a solution, some way to fix or reduce the problem. If you find this difficult, imagine your most confident, self assured and empowered self. What would they do, how would they solve this problem?

The next step is to pick a problem and follow what you wrote on how solve it.

This is an important lesson in problem solving. Like the NLP presupposition goes ‘if something isn’t working, do something else’.

If you’ve taken a do nothing approach and find that the problem still persists, try something else.

I also think it’s incredibly helpful to come up with a solution from the perspective of your most confident, self assured and empowered self because it’s probably what you’re working to embody.

Once you start taking action, aside from the expected discomfort of doing something new, you’ll probably find that you’re seemingly burdensome problems were actually pretty simple to solve.

A mindful offload

If you’re someone that likes to vent and offload I think it’s important to be mindful.

Think about things such as:

How many times have I vented to this person about the same issue?

Has anything changed or am I just repeating the same thing over and over again?

Do I want help solving this or just someone to sit and listen?

The answer to those questions might make you realise that you should spend more time solving your problems than you do talking about them. Your answer might also inspire you to ask before you vent instead of dumping on someone and apologising after.

As much as I think it’s totally fine to want someone to just listen without trying to offer advice, I also think that people have the right no not want to hear you talk about your problems, especially when you’ve gotten into the habit of carelessly dumping on someone over and over again.

Addicted to limbo

When you’re used to something, you can end up creating situations in your life where you get more of it, even when it’s not helpful.

I recently had a conversation about a problem. From my perspective it was fairly easy to solve. From the perspective of the person I was with it was something challenging, the sort of thing to go back and forth and around and around about without actually finding a solution.

An easy way to work through solving your problems is to establish where you’re at and where you want to be. Then, fill in the gaps. What can you do to get to where you want to be?

But we sometimes end up making things difficult for ourselves. We get so wrapped up in the problem that we’re not even really trying to solve it. We’re not stuck because we can’t solve the problem, we’re stuck because we’re addicted to limbo.

This is why you can sit and talk with someone who is upset or frustrated and even when they ask for your advice and you offer it. They just go right back to the problem.

And the thing is, it gets boring and even exhausting to listen to after a while. Nobody wants to sit and listen to someone complain about something they aren’t even trying to change.

Willing to walk away

When it comes to asking for what you want, if you don’t get it, what do you do next?

Are you willing to walk away?

I think that sometimes problems arise when we aren’t willing to be firm. We say we want something, don’t get it and then just continue on as normal.

But I think that it’s okay to have boundaries. I think that it’s okay to ask for what you and not be willing to settle for less.

It’s a difficult adjustment to make when you’re used to accepting the bare minimum but it’s worth trying.

Another point of view

Sometimes when you encounter an issue you only look at it from your perspective. You focus on how you feel, how you’ve been treated and you can end up playing the victim (often unknowingly).

Sometimes we take the position of the victim because we want to be coddled and we want to be saved but doing so puts you at a disadvantage because you’ll always be waiting for someone else to make things better.

And when you go to people and tell them the problem you’re having you might find that they seem unsympathetic or as though they aren’t on your side. This can make the issue’s your having feel even worse.

But sometimes all it takes is looking at the situation from another point of view to realise that you’re so focused on yourself that you’ve ignored the experiences of everyone else around you.

What needs to change?

Think about all the things that are currently bothering you, contribute to you feeling stuck or just causing a problem in your life. Write them down one by one.

Now go through each of them and think about what needs to change in order to overcome the problem. Then, write it down.

If you’re not sure, give yourself options. It could be 2 possible solutions or it could be 10.

The purpose of the exercise is to remind you that although you may feel stuck, all of your problems have solutions.

Trial and error

In order to find the solution to a problem, it often takes trial and error. Sure, the first thing might work but not always.

Trial and error requires you to be willing to embrace uncertainty, take risks and persevere. However, often in life we’re not willing to do those things as much as we could or even should. And so our problems remain.

It has nothing to do with our problems being difficult or challenging. Instead we simply aren’t willing to try something that might not work, so we simply don’t try at all.

Complaint without action

Complaints can be categorised into 2 groups, things you can change and things you can’t change.

If you are able to sort the issue that feel the need to complain about, it’s probably not worth the effort to complain. Instead take action, do something about it.

Lets say that you’re cold. You could fix this by putting on another layer or closing the window. But instead you choose to complain. Maybe you’re usually the one that has to close the window and you want someone else to do it for a change.

If you can easily fix something that bothers you and you choose to do nothing then maybe you don’t actually care, maybe you just like complaining. I think that can be a difficult thing to admit but it’s the truth for many people even if it’s just for something small.

And sometimes the case is that you care but you want someone else to fix the problem. Perhaps you feel like it’s always on you.

However, as much as that’s understandable, it is also of very little benefit to you.

Big problems and small solutions

Sometimes we assume that the solution to a problem has to be complicated. We overlook the little things forgetting how big an impact can be caused by something small.

And so we go in search of something complicated but to no avail. Then the problem continues and maybe even grows which causes us to become more frustrated.

Until finally we decide to start small, to have a conversation, to go to bed a little earlier or to drink more water.

In time the problem will begin to dissolve until suddenly it’s gone. However, it’s important to remember that these small solutions aren’t quick fixes. It could take weeks of conversations to fix a big problem.

Finding a solution to the problem

When it comes to solving problems, there is a big difference between finding a solution and finding a solution to the problem.

When we’re simply just finding a solution we tend to come up with things that are short-term, quick to do and don’t really address the issue.

Lets take the example of being upset with someone. Now imagine that the solution you choose is to go off and take space until you’re no longer upset. Then, by the time you come back to the other person you’re now totally over it. That is a potential solution but it doesn’t actually solve anything.

A solution to that problem could instead be still taking space if you need it but then also voicing to the other person how you felt about their actions. That way you create space for discussion rather than being closed off and holding things in.

And so the next time you have a problem to solve don’t just find a solution, find a solution that is right for the problem.