Action 46

I use constructive thinking and my problem-solving skills. Problem-solving is about finding solutions to challenges. I can see things in a new light. Generate multiple options and alternative solutions. Weigh the pros and cons of each alternative solution. I foresee future problems and losses and take preventable steps before the stressors reveal themselves. I can mentally and behaviorally rehearse possible actions beforehand. Imagery rehearsal is like a free ride, it provides an opportunity to see things differently through a new set of lenses, anticipating challenges and potential obstacles. Mental rehearsal or vividly picturing in my mind the situation as it is expected to unfold and my problem-solving steps help move me from thoughts to actions.

Useful Information

Things to keep in mind that when it comes to problem-solving.

  1. View the problem as a “challenge” and use the six P’s
    • Problem—problem definition—define the problem in behavioral language so another person can understand. Define the problem narrowly and specifically.
    • Purpose—define goals in a brief and uncomplicated manner. Set “smart” goal statements. (See Action #47)
    • Plan—solution generation—use brainstorming to generate at least three possible alternatives for yourself; brainstorm and suspend judgment at first. Quantity counts and quality comes later.
    • Pick—select one solution. If it doesn’t work, try another solution. Stay calm and remind oneself to work at it. Use calming strategies if needed. Choose a solution that all parties agree is best, after thoughtful discussion of the pros and cons, costs and benefits.
    • Predict—anticipate and identify possible obstacles and address such potential roadblocks ahead of time.
    • Pat oneself on the back—evaluate the outcome and reward oneself for your efforts. What was learned?

“Challenges can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks. It’s just a matter of how you view them.”

  1. Change one’s relationship to the problem. Ask myself “Is it my problem, or someone else’s problem, or a joint problem?
  2. Work on solving the problem and assume future solutions by using “future talk.” What is future talk? It includes expressions such as so far or as yet.
    “So far things have not gone right.”
    “I have not found a way to stay out of trouble, as yet.”
    Future talk tells others and oneself that there are potential solutions to be found down the road.
  3. Mentally and behaviorally rehearse, “try out” actions and solutions ahead of time. I can cope ahead by imagining the situation as vividly as possible. I can imagine myself in the situation, not watching the situation. Imagine the scene in the present tense, not in the future or past. Now rehearse coping more effectively, envisioning, “What would I do and say?” Athletes often use such imagery-based coping ahead strategies to improve their performance.

Action 47