Every day brings challenges and situations that trigger various thoughts and emotions within us. Some are easy to deal with and let go. However, some are difficult to experience and face, like relationship issues or the loss of a job.
20th century philosopher of science, Karl Popper, once said, “All life is problem solving.” Problem solving is about learning and growing. Here are five tips to improve our problem-solving skills.
Take a break—Whether you’re in the middle of discussing a difficult situation with someone that doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere, or are facing an overwhelming situation or challenge, take a break and step away.
Removing yourself from the situation puts space between you and the “problem,” which gives your brain a chance to be objective and process the situation to figure out a different approach. With regards to interpersonal conflict, if it becomes clear that the person won’t back down, table the conversation until a later time.
Keep a journal—Writing about the issue gives the brain a chance to sort through the different feelings you’re feeling, which makes it possible to clearly identify the source of those emotions. Once you’ve identified the emotions you’re feeling and what’s causing them, you’ll be better prepared to know what action to take and what needs to be addressed.
Sleep on it – Sometimes, what seems urgent today won’t seem as urgent tomorrow. Sleeping on it allows you to disentangle yourself from the emotional intensity of the situation, which prevents you from making rash decisions.
Have a chat—If you feel overwhelmed by it all, consider getting it off your chest by talking to someone you trust – someone who knows and understands you; it’s therapeutic.
Sharing your “problem” with a third party allows you to release the negative feeling and get an objective point of view, which can help you to re-focus on the problem more rationally.
Tackle it head on—This is the moment you take action. It could be talking to the person you believe has wronged you, facing the dynamics of a failing relationship, or searching for a new job that’s more suited to your likes, interests and skills. Taking action reduces anxiety and worry, and increases feelings of confidence and satisfaction.
As Albert Einstein eloquently summed it up, “We can not solve our problems with same level of thinking that created them.” By implementing these five tips for solving problems, you’ll identify more solutions and better protect your emotional and mental health in the process.
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