Start From Where You Are
When I think of the challenges I have in my life, I see that I have two ways of solving problems. One is logical. I assess the problem rationally, talk things over with others, break the solution into small steps and get to work. These are problems that have little or no emotional context for me. Just an opportunity to exercise a systematic approach to a challenge.
Once there is even a minimal level of emotion involved… it’s like I forget all my skills and start reacting from a needy place in my head. This is my second problem solving approach. Like when I am having an interpersonal issue with someone. Logically, I know it’s most likely about communication or expectations, but I suddenly forget all the skills I’m so good at in other aspects of my life. Sigh.
The first thing I forget to do is to accept that I need to start from where I am. All at once, I want to solve the entire problem at once. I want to look for blame. I want to pretend that I have no role as part of the source of the problem. I’m not objective about my own shortcomings, I begin my looking at others as the source.
Progress Not Perfection
I love the solutions in the image. Imagine if I took that personal problem and drew a picture of it? What would that do? What if I drew the picture from my perspective and from the other person’s perspective? Might that help?
What if I made a list of the elements that make up the dilemma. How about if I worked backwards, envisioning what I want to have happen and then seeing what steps I might take to get closer to that outcome?
It seems the most important strategy shown here is to ‘look for a pattern.’ If I’m always being disappointed by other people, besides me… what do those people have in common?
Trust But Verify
It took me a long time to learn who to trust and when. I was either too trusting, giving people my time and attention when they didn’t deserve it OR I was shut down completely. Preferring to be on my own, telling myself that I was better off that way. Neither is good.
A better way, is to take very small steps to learn whether someone is worthy of trust and attention. One disappointment doesn’t mean I must discard someone. However, as Maya Angelou so wisely warned us, “the first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
I’m going to apply this ‘wheel’ of problem solving strategies to a people problem. I’ll let you know how it goes. Please let me know how it goes for you.
Image Credit: Mathematical Habits of Mind
Irana van OostrumApril 11, 2018
With each new blog post, it’s like you read my mind.. but especially with this one! So my comment to this one might get a bit long. I completely recognize myself in the two ways you solve problems. Once the problem has emotional value (feelings got hurt for example) I don’t take the same steps. even when I know exactly what to do to fix it and what I would tell other’s if they were in the same situation, but for some reason.. I just can’t. I’ve had issues with someone very close in my family for a few years, but last year my trust with that person was completely broken and at the time I was convinced they never deserved my trust again and that nothing would ever be the same. that was the absolute worst year of my entire life.. other’s kept telling me that this couldn’t continue like this, I was told what to do and to fix it. but as you said: I put the blame on other’s and thought that just ignoring the problem would be best. I wanted everything to go back to normal, but because the problem had gotten so big, there was no way that everything would go back to normal all at once. so why would I even try?? What I found that really helped (it took months for me to realize this) is that just acting normal and especially just being and staying true to yourself, is the best you could do in a situation like that. don’t let the other person change the way you act, stopping you from being happy, doing the things you want to do. because if you make sure you’re being yourself, then there actually is a reason for why the blame shouldn’t be put on you (instead of trying denying your role in the problem by putting the blame on others). and you’re not putting the blame on the other person either, but if the other person isn’t changing the way that they’re acting then that’s their problem. By being yourself, you aren’t denying that what the other person might have done was wrong, either: something that can be extremely hard. it isn’t even about forgiveness, it’s more about accepting the situation as it is right now, accepting what has happened between you two, and trying to move forward (instead of trying to solve the problem that caused the current situation). then I started taking baby steps, fully knowing that it would take time to better the situation. I stopped letting the problem be a part of me. I tried going through the day normally. I tried answering their questions normally, told them how my day was, showed that I could act happy in their presence. by taking steps like that, it slowly got better. because I showed them that I was capable of being myself and wasn’t letting them take away my happiness. after all, staying sane and happy in a problematic situation like that helps you viewing the problem from a more logical perspective.
DeborahApril 16, 2018
Irana, I wish everyone would read your answer. You have explained perfectly a new approach to the sticky and complex interpersonal (esp.family!) situations that we all have.
“I started taking baby steps, fully knowing that it would take time to better the situation. I stopped letting the problem be a part of me. I tried going through the day normally. I tried answering their questions normally, told them how my day was, showed that I could act happy in their presence. by taking steps like that, it slowly got better. because I showed them that I was capable of being myself and wasn’t letting them take away my happiness.”
Being true to myself takes a lot of work… but the payoffs are there. Patience is the key. love it! the machine
Irana van OostrumApril 17, 2018
I hope all goes well for you. and I completely agree with you.. staying true to yourself IS hard! and it will take time, but in the end.. it will be sooo worth it I promise you. so glad to hear that you’re feeling that the effort you’re putting into it is paying off. that’s a huge step!! sending you so much love. I’m thinking about you and I am proud of you <3
Mike PerrottaMay 8, 2018