Problem solving

The surprising solution to your biggest problem

- October 31, 2018 2 MIN READ

Think you’ve tried everything to fix what’s weighing you down? Now try this method for solving problems, writes Lucy Kippist.

If there’s anything I love it’s being able to help other people solve their problems – or at least be a sounding board for the process.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm dwindles when it comes to my own problems. Ditto my creativity.

When faced with a problem, I tend to throw everything I’ve got at it in a panicked kind of way – for fear of being too late to ‘fix’ it; and then freeze like a deer in the headlights when it dawns on me that what I’ve done isn’t enough.

And so the problem remains.

So what then?

In a recent article for Forbes, career and leadership coach Kathy Caprino said there are three questions you should ask yourself in this kind of problem-solving predicaments.

  1. What is the repeating pattern here that needs to change?
  2. How am I not valuing and appreciating myself?
  3. What state are my boundaries in?

Look for patterns in your behaviour

Kathy says there’s a pattern behind the problem you’re experiencing today that has been with you most of your adult life. She suggests spending a part of your weekend writing down everything you can think about that has shaped who you’ve become, especially the messages and treatment you received in childhood that influenced you.

“Think on the one most pivotal event of your life, and how it impacted the direction you took. Then figure out which of these messages and experiences are potentially harming you now that you’re ready to release,” she writes.

Define your self-worth

Often the most complex problems stem from interpersonal relationships, be it at work or in your family. Kathy says the way we respond to negativity or lack of respect, actually comes down to the value we place on ourselves.

She writes: “If you realise that you don’t have a positive self-concept and don’t believe in yourself or your worth, it’s time to change that… A good therapist will help you stop seeing yourself as ‘less than’… release pain and trauma from past experiences and build new behaviour patterns that reveal just how important you are.”

Build your boundaries

Kathy describes boundaries as the filter between you and the other parts and people in your life. When created effectively they are gatekeepers of our most important values and protect us from being hurt, or disrespected.

Little wonder then that boundaries should be one of the first areas we look at when faced with a problem that’s begun spiralling out of our control.

Kathy suggests we strengthen our boundaries by asking ourselves, “What is it that I desperately want?” And consider the following areas while you craft your answer: time, energy, honesty, respect, fairness, kindness, power, safety, being heard and acceptance.

Of course, this problem-solving process is not for the faint-hearted. Digging deep is rarely easy or quick and most cases requires discovering things you don’t necessarily like.

But when you’re really stuck on a problem and it’s holding you back on many levels in life, perhaps it’s worth the investment.