An axiom that has been circulating the Internet via Facebook lately caught my attention. It was, “My therapist set half of a glass of water in front of me. He asked if I was an optimist or a pessimist. So, I drank the water and told him I was a problem solver.” It’s a well-worn adage that if you see it as half full or half empty, it suggests that you’re either an optimist or a pessimist. Yet another option is revealed which is to bypass those assessments and simply solve the problem.
Too often we can get stuck in dramatizing the problem, blowing it way out of proportion and end up feeling powerless to do anything to solve it. Sometimes the problem seems so enormous as to be unsolvable, but with patience and persistence we can find any number of possible solutions no matter what the problem.
We recently moved from a house that had a lot of storage space into a house that had considerably less. We were faced with two problems: how to eliminate some of the “stuff” we had and also how to create more storage space. We went to work on it, recycling what was possible, keeping a motto of K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple Sweetheart! It felt good to release and simplify. My home office is about half the size of my previous, yet has a cozy, welcoming feel to it now that I’ve organized it and kept it clean and simple.
Solutions for the problem of limited storage space have come to us as well. Get a storage shed, put rafters in the garage, use the space in an entire attic that we didn’t have any idea existed, and put up shelves in the garage. Problem solved—or at least, we have discovered some possible solutions.
So when you’re faced with a dilemma, particularly a seemingly unsolvable one, follow these four steps to finding a solution.
1) AVOID CATASTROPHIZING
Remind yourself that the present situation you’re facing is not likely to be a disaster in itself. We tend to do what Albert Ellis termed “catastrophizing,” making mountains of molehills. Or to put most things into perspective, remember that there are only two things you need to do. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that it’s all small stuff. ” –Richard Carlson
Write out a list of possible solutions and most importantly, do not censor any, no matter how wild and crazy they may seem. When you allow the most seemingly outrageous solutions it loosens the creative juices so a workable solution can be discovered. As I was pondering some of the dilemmas presented by the new house, I spotted a particular spider about four times. I consulted my Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals and one of the messages from Spider spirit was, “Rather than staying stuck in this apparent impasse, open your mind to the infinite number of possibilities that are before you, and make a choice.”
3) CONSULTATION AND CONVERSATION
Discuss the list with your spouse or a friend. If it’s your spouse, communicating as you process through possible solutions is especially important. Write down any ideas that come from the conversation. Often through this kind of dialogue, possibilities that you never thought of can arrive. Consulting with your Higher Self in whatever form is important here as well. “Wherever two or more are gathered, there I am.”
4) MAKE A DECISION AND TAKE ACTION!
As Spider noted, there are often many choices you can make, so once you’ve weighed the factors, make your choice and implement the action. It doesn’t have to be the perfect choice, as there is no such thing, but choose and act! You can always course correct. When airplanes are flying to a destination they are constantly correcting their courses either minimally or in major ways. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Keeping your eyes and mind open, once you act on your choice you’ll know if you need to alter your course.
So don’t let it bring you down if you are faced with what seems to be an insurmountable problem. There is always a solution, even it it’s not always a perfect one.