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  • Natalie Schiebener

Powerful Questions Podcast: Are you thinking about problems or solutions?



Asking yourself this question might help you realize where in your life you are making yourself “stuck”. And notice that I intentionally say that you are making yourself stuck. You probably think I am crazy for saying that – as obviously if you could do something about your situation, you absolutely would. But I am convinced that most of the time we are not stuck because of the external circumstances. We are stuck in our own mind.


And very often we are stuck because of problem-thinking instead of solution-thinking.


  • What does problem-thinking look like?

  • When you keep complaining about the situation, you are focused on the problem.

  • If you are staying in the past with what has happened instead of looking what could happen, and what you could do.

  • When you are putting blame on external circumstances or other people

  • And even inf you are blaming yourself instead of taking responsibility for the situation. The difference between taking the blame and taking responsibility is that if you take blame, you are at fault. If you take responsibility, you take ownership of fixing the situation. Blame is past looking – responsibility is forward looking.


If you are stuck in problem-thinking, you most probably don’t realize that. This is what makes it so difficult to escape. One of the reasons you might be suck are your emotions. Especially when something just happened, you would be so overwhelmed with emotions that you of course would not be able to think constructively and start looking for solutions. It will take time. You need to give space to yourself to express your emotions safely. Try to articulate for yourself how you feel.


What also keeps us stuck in problem-thinking is the unwillingness to take the blame. As long as you are playing the blame-game with yourself and trying to find other people or circumstances that are at fault, you will not start looking for solutions. What was a real insight for me here, is that you don’t have to take the blame to take responsibility. External circumstances or other people might have been at fault here, it happens, and very often. But why would you focus on that? Why not decide what you want for your life and see what it is that you can do to get there? This is taking responsibility. You move your focus from whatever happened in the past, and you start thinking about what it is that you want for yourself in the future.


So how do you help yourself to move into solution-oriented thinking?


First, you have to give space to your emotions. Recognize what you are feeling and let yourself vent. Do what you need to do (as long as it doesn’t hurt other people): cry, talk to someone, put your thoughts on paper. Take your time to do that.


Second, accept what you cannot change. What happened in the past is in the past. You can go back to it endlessly in your thoughts, but you cannot change it. And as long as your focus is there, it limits your ability to focus on something else.


The third step is to decide what you want to change. Define exactly what it is in your current situation that you are not ok with and what would you want to have instead. Use whatever helps you achieve your goals usually – for example, you can write them down, you can visualize. You need to be very clear on what you want before you can move on to the next step.


The fourth step is to define your actions. Consider what it is that you can do to get to your ideal state. You can define steps and sub steps to help you change the situation and achieve what you want to achieve.


The last part, and the most important one: act! Make sure you implement what you have planned, otherwise everything before it was for nothing. You cannot expect different results if you continue acting in the same way.

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