I have been in the human services field for a decade. During those years, I have worked with various leaders and teammates to apply problem-solving approaches. My hard-won lessons and experiences have led me to develop my “soaps method.” I share this method with my readers because I trust it will be helpful to them in overcoming their life problems.
See The Problem as A Challenge That Grows Us
First of all, I propose to look at a problem as a challenge. I have learned that looking at a problem as a challenge can put us in a positive mindset to work on it. The mind enters a flow state when it is positively motivated, to work on something that will lead to a successful and productive outcome. The flow state within us also stimulates our thought process. Stimulating the thought process promotes creativity and clarity when working on problems.
Some Problems Need To Be Managed
There are many problem-solving methods and courses we can learn. I usually prefer to learn and apply simple, effective and less energy-consuming methods to work through problems. However, using simple, effective and less energy-consuming methods is not as easy as it sounds. In my experience, achieving simplicity requires research, analysis, experience, application, trial and error, evaluation, and practice. In working on problems, I have learned that not all problems can be solved, but that some just need to be managed wisely.
The “soaps” in this story aren’t those we use in the shower, these are words that strengthen and empower us on our journey to problem-solving.
Let us begin.
S — Study the situation and use strengths.
Study the situation.
When working on a problem, I study the situation by looking at the causal and persistent factors.
Causal factors: What caused the problem?
Persistent Factors: What is causing the problem to persist?
I usually work to mitigate or eliminate both of these factors. For example, if you want to quit smoking, you might ask yourself… “what causes me to smoke, and what causes me to continue smoking?” Begin to mitigate and eliminate these factors, and your smoking frequency will slowly decrease.
I look for strengths in myself and in situations that can help me solve my problem. When you have gathered your strengths, problems are easier to overcome. Strengths can also be accessible supports and resources that help you solve problems. These resources and support can come from family, friends, and the community.
For example, if you want to be a great writer, work with people who have a passion for writing. If you want to be healthy, work with people who are committed to a healthy lifestyle.
If you are working on problems, it’s important to work with people who have positive qualities like courage, composure, self-awareness, good confidence, empathy, and a clear strategy.
It’s good to stay away from toxic people when solving problems. They might rub salt in your wounds. I have worked with nescient, egotistical and timid leaders and teammates who have made difficult situations worse. Always be mindful of who is in your problem-solving team.
O — Observe yourself and look for opportunities.
To effectively meet a challenge, I have learned to know myself, my responses and reactions, and my ego. Responses come from a state of inner balance, while reactions are products of the unconscious ego.
When the ego releases negative thoughts and feelings, it can interfere with finding good solutions. Therefore, developing good self-awareness is essential to dealing with problems wisely.
Look for opportunities
“In the midst of chaos, lies opportunity.” — Sun Tzu
If I look at my problems as challenges, I will develop a growth mindset that will make me look for opportunities. Recognizing opportunities leads us to advantages. Opportunities help us to better solve and overcome problems. In a problematic situation, there could also be a golden opportunity waiting for you.
For example, I usually ask myself, “what can I learn and use in this moment of challenge? What can I gain and use for my progress?”
Even if there are no opportunities, there are great life lessons in every problem.
“If you fall down hundred times, there are a hundred lessons you can learn.”— Sadhgru Jaggi Vasudev
A — Actions.
Take grounded actions. Never act with negative thoughts and emotions. Calm down and strategically evaluate if this action will fit you and the situation.
Always hypothesize and explore possible consequences. Have alternative actions ready in your toolbox to iron out failures. Once you are prepared and confident, plunge boldly into action.
Here is an example of how I prepare: If I take this action X and this unfavorable consequence Y occurs… I will solve Y with Z. Z is my alternative action.
You can anticipate what the consequences of your actions will be. Anticipation should not fuel fears. This foresight or strategic vision prepares you to look at problems from different angles. Exploring possibilities helps us be prepared and eliminate the worst-case scenario.
When taking action, be aware of these two situations that cause problems to resurface or get worse.
- Always avoiding to escape difficult situations.
- Holding negative emotions that cloud the thinking process and actions.
P — Practice qualities of higher consciousness
Use empathy, compassion, tactful language, courage, sensitivity, loving communication, active listening, grounded emotions, unbiased judgments, and a higher level of self-knowledge as your tools for problem-solving. With these tools of higher consciousness, problem-solving becomes a breeze.
We may or may not control external situations, but we can choose how we handle problems with these qualities.
S — Simplicity
Simplicity is an important key. Practice dealing with complex situations by breaking them down into simpler parts. Work on the simplest problem first or start working on the complex problem piece by piece. There’s an old saying, to eat a big elephant, we need to take one bite at a time. Applying simplicity is a skill that comes from constant practice in dealing with complexity.
I have seen some environments that take weeks, months, and even years to solve simple problems, which also leads to stress and burnout for many people. It’s like taking the longest route to the exit that’s right in front of you. If you are caught in these situations, it’s time to put on some soap to wash away issues that are hindering your self-care.
Finally, take time to relax and unwind. When you relax and rest your mind and body, you recharge and increase your creativity.
“It is important to relearn the art of resting and relaxing. It prevents the onset of illness, clears our minds, increases concentration, and helps us find creative solutions to problems.”- Thich Nhat Hanh
I hope this will be useful for dealing and working with any problem or challenge.
Thank you for reading.
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