What would you say if you realized that there are really only four solutions for any problem? Sounds impossible, doesn’t it. But if we really think about it, the four options below might be it. Knowing these solutions can put some perspective into our choices.
- Solution One: change the situation. This is often what we think of when we need to solve a problem, just doing something. Examples for this abound. If you don’t like your job, try to get a new one. Car problems? Get them fixed. What about more complex issues such as problems in a relationship? These often take more time. Brainstorming different possibilities, evaluating the pro/cons of a solution, asking a trusted friend or expert for their thoughts, or going “with your gut” are often common ways to get to a change in the situation.
- Solution Two: change your attitude. What happens when you can’t change the situation? Leaving your job means leaving your paycheck and you have a family to take care of. Your partner’s behavior is driving you batty but you can’t change it. Sometimes (or often) we are not in complete control of a situation but we always have control over what how we view it. Although this can be a challenge, there are ways that can help. Putting yourself in someone’s else shoes and getting their perspective can be helpful. “From my partner’s perspective, this behavior makes sense.” You can evaluate a thought for how true it really is vs. not true and come up with a more realistic view. Watch out for extreme words such as “everyone”, “no one”, “always” and “never."
- Solution Three: radical acceptance. This solution actually falls under Solution Two but is so important that it deserves its own category. Radical (meaning “all” or “completely”) Acceptance is when you accept the situation from your head to your toes, wholly and completely. There are many situations that we simply have to radically accept, such as rules at work, paying taxes, the loss of a loved one and the fact that the Kardashians make more money than we do for no clear reason. It’s tough, we have to accept things over and over again but when we do, we feel free.
- Solution Four: staying miserable. This doesn’t really seem like a solution but it is one that we all do at times and we do it well! Staying miserable does NOT mean having a feeling such as anger, frustration or fear. It is also NOT processing your thoughts about an issue with a friend. It is when we go over and over in our minds how frustrated or angry we are in a situation but feel nothing can change. There is no shame in doing this, but recognizing this is a choice can help us see how to solve a problem more easily.
So there you have it. A solution for every problem. Happy solving!
Adapted from Marsha Linnehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy