“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” ~~John Dewey
“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~~Maya Angelou
“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.” ~~Susan Del Gatto
#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems.
I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
Sobriety and Statement #4 in action fuel determination and decrease worry. In our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick writes “Worry is the antithesis of overcoming. We worry when the conditions overwhelm us. Overcoming is when we overwhelm the problem.”
The beginning of problem solving in my New Life came in early sobriety. Right away my focus was on staying sober every day and I did not take on anything large. The WFS Online Forum connected and introduced me to women who were taking charge of their life and problems. The input from veteran WFS sisters was invaluable and life changing. Soon I was practicing new tools and beginning to feel capable. Like a sponge I soaked up information that would help cement my progress and instill balance.
Here are a few tools and techniques to aid in problem solving gleaned from competent women:
1. Define the problem. What is the core issue? Is there more than one issue? Choose one to focus.
2. Whose problem is it? Does this issue truly belong to you?
3. Apply the SMART technique to the problem. Smart is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action/Attainable, Realistic and Timely/Time frame.
4. Evaluate results. Did your action/inaction solve the issue?
5. Journal the problem. Sometimes just writing it down gets it out of our head to where we can think clearer or with fresh perspective.
6. You are not alone. Chances are you are not the first person to experience this issue. Reach out, talk about the issue with someone you trust.
7. Listen for feedback. While some people may tend to try to solve a problem for us, is there a solution that you have not tried yet? Listen to feedback or different perspectives.
8. Shelve an issue but add a deadline. Maybe you do not have all the information needed yet to solve the issue. Hold off but stay mindful that you will return to it.
9. 5 Why’s. This technique aids in identifying root causes.
10. Release shame blame or guilt. None of these will help solve a problem and can stand in the way of moving through it.
11. Reframe the story. You are the author of your mind and your story. You can edit and reframe how you tell an experience/story. Look for the helpers.
12. Embrace gray areas/alter expectations. Instead of strict black and white thinking, embrace gray areas and alter expectations for increased balance.
13. Consider additional support. Some issues or problems can be difficult to maneuver alone. Consider professional support and/or therapy to move through the problem when feeling stuck or unable to solve.
What other tools do you use to problem solve?
Hi 4C Women,
So many fabulous tips on problem solving. The 5 whys intrigued me as I sometimes get lost in the problem/issue that the core root is not obvious to me. Identifying the core root helps me take responsibility for my actions and also in creating needed changes in my thoughts/actions. One of my whys in respect to my current situation would be why I am continually frustrated with a certain family member. The first why would be I have not set firm boundaries. The second why would be not wanting to hurt that person when they are in a vulnerable place. The third why is I feel inadequate in providing guidance that will be heard. The fourth why is in some way I feel responsible. The fifth why is I’m angry at myself for not setting those firm boundaries in the beginning. This leads me to my core issue – I feel responsible (guilty) and yet it is out of my control. So, while I recognize the problem really isn’t mine, it affects my life greatly. A very challenging situation yet there are 12 other phenomenal tips to work with from Karen’s message. It’s ironic and so appropriate for me that tip #10 follows the 5 Whys as that tip reflects the guilt I am feeling. Tip #10 is a good reminder that guilt does nothing to help me move forward.
It’s been said that there is a payback when we continue to hold on to a situation or person that hurts us. I think that is another important consideration when it comes to problem solving. I often ask myself what benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way. My answer is usually fear of destroying the relationship or making the wrong decision. That leads to the question of what would be the consequence of such an outcome. How important is the relationship that continually holding back a hurt becomes acceptable? How would discussing a problem authentically and respectfully be so harmful that it would end the relationship? Yes, problems bother me only to the degree I permit which begs the question, just how much am I permitting? How do I create a balance so the fear becomes less and I become the author of my story going forward? Much to figure out and that is the beauty of the WFS program. It asks us to be honest with ourselves, to uncover our fears and discover the power within us that makes us what we’ve always been – 4C women capable of making positive changes, reducing our fears, learning from our mistakes and standing strong in our own power!
Bonded in healing and helping each other in problem solving, Dee