Focus On The Solution, Not The Problem

Focus on the solution, not the problem

Focus on the solution, not the problem

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the significance and power of focusing on the solution.

First a quick update:

The antidote to fear”
Everyone experiences fear and sometimes it can be crippling or it can be based on false thoughts and triggered by false evidence – also known as the Amygdala Hijack. Find out how to overcome fear in this article 

Follow me on Twitter– You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

“Female hysteria & the origins of the vibrator”
19th century doctors and psychologists believed that women were victims of physical, mental and emotional symptoms & disorders because there was something wrong with their uterus! Watch the video:

Now, let’s talk about the significance and power of focusing on the solution.

Problems occur. Things go wrong. Plans don’t work out. Accidents happen.

That is one of the realities of life.

Worse than the problem is the way we choose to respond to it. Most of us will typically focus on how awful the problem is – how painful it is.

The better response is to focus on how to solve the problem.

This is referred to as Problem-focused thinking VS Solution-focused thinking.

Focusing only on the problem literally infers you are focusing on the pain, the negative aspect of the problem. Focusing on the solution literally infers you are focusing on the benefits of transforming the problem into something positive, constructive and beneficial.

Of course, you cannot focus on the solution without recognizing that there is an actual problem.

Let me use a real-life story as an example:

A woman decides to purchase a product online from Best Buy. She calls Best Buy to ask questions about the product. She is now ready to buy the $600 product of which there is only one remaining, and she decides she wants to use her Best Buy credit card so that she will pay no interest for 12 months. However, she cannot find her card, so the salesperson transfers her to the Best Buy credit card department. She explains her challenge (notice I use the word challenge instead of problem.) The representative spends some time verifying the identity of the woman who wants to make the purchase and says that he has to transfer her once more. Again, the woman explains her intention to buy the last remaining product with no interest financing and that she doesn’t have her Best Buy credit card, nor does she know its numbers. Now the next representative asks the same questions and finally says:

“Your information has been verified and updated.”

‘Yes, but I want to buy this product; I told you that from the beginning and I told you what my problem was.’

“Yes, but for security purposes we can’t give out your credit card number.”

‘Why didn’t you tell me that from the beginning?’

She now asks for a supervisor who proceeds to justify the actions of the representatives before her.

‘You have wasted 50 minutes of my time today’, says the woman in frustration. ‘Even now, you have failed to do the most important thing of all – namely, offer me a solution!’

All of the Best Buy representatives focused on one thing – not giving out the credit card number. Not one of them thought about focusing on actually solving the problem, and no one, not even the supervisor offered her a solution.

What was the solution?

Go to a Best Buy store as soon as possible with identification and have the Best Buy representatives at the store complete the transaction of this last remaining product for this woman, using her information on file with no-interest financing!

The point again, is that there was a solution and no one thought about how to reach that solution – how to solve the challenge!

Here are 4 simple steps to ensure and promote Solution-focused Thinking:

1. Define
What is the actual problem/challenge? Be specific and clear. The only problem might be your attitude. Remember in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we teach that the Thought leads to an Emotion which then leads to a Behavior which then reinforces or worsens the original thought.

2. Ask why
Some experts say you should not focus on asking “Why did this happen or why must XYZ be done (such as an unexciting task)?” That is incorrect. By asking “Why” you can uncover what mistakes were made that might have caused or contributed to the problem and which can be avoided in the future to prevent a repeat of the problem. In the case of an obligatory task, asking why is still useful and beneficial:

“Why must I clean up my bedroom and take out the trash?”

‘So you can learn responsibility, self-discipline and pride in your work. Now you have 2 choices – stay resentful about cleaning your bedroom and still have to do those chores regardless of the way you feel, or, you can focus on how quickly and effectively you can complete those chores so that they don’t feel so uncomfortable!’

It is also okay to express and release emotion; remember there is a process for grieving as well. Simply, beware of getting stuck in the “Why” phase, thus becoming paralyzed by a false belief/thought that the problem cannot be solved or, the mental loop that keeps you focused on what is wrong. Move quickly to the next step.

3. Accept
Acceptance is a key part of solution-focused thinking and a key part of inner peace! Accept that there is a problem. Accept that it has occurred –whether the problem occurred because of something over which you had control or whether it occurred and you had no control over its cause. Accept that this task must be performed or completed. Accept that there is way to resolve this problem, issue or challenge.

4. Solve via strategy
You’ve uncovered the root causes of the problem/challenge and you now know what you need to differently to create a new result. Be clear about what the new result is that you want to create! Map out the strategy and take action! Break it down into steps if  necessary. Remember, it is also critical to reduce stress (eat healthy, sleep well, meditate, exercise, breathe deeply.) By reducing stress, you can more capably focus on the solution instead of getting trapped in the symptoms or thinking incorrectly that everything is hopeless or a problem. Also read my article about mindfulness.

If you need more help to reduce stress or change old negative ways of thinking into positive solution focused thinking, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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