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Problem Solving #3:
The Six Aspects Of A Problem (Part 1)

PROBLEM SOLVING SERIES: #3

All personal and interpersonal problems can be solved.

We've looked at the roadblocks (#1)
and how to identify a problem (#2).
Now, in #3 and #4, we'll learn about the six aspects of all problems.

This topic focuses on the Existence of a problem, its Significance, and its Solvability.



THE SIX ASPECTS OF A PROBLEM (Part 1)

The EXISTENCE of the problem.

The SIGNIFICANCE of the problem.

The problem's SOLVABILITY.

MY PART in the problem.

YOUR PART in the problem.

The SITUATION.


IGNORING THESE ASPECTS MAKES PROBLEM SOLVING IMPOSSIBLE!

So why do we often try to ignore them?

We ignore aspects of our problems in a futile attempt
to avoid conflict, avoid losing, or avoid hurting someone.
But these feared outcomes are only
delayed and made worse by trying to avoid them.



The EXISTENCE of the Problem:
"Does The Problem Really EXIST?"

When we pretend a problem isn't even there, we say things like:
"It's no problem."
"There's nothing wrong."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"It's all in your head."
"You're just imagining it!"

How Do We Know A Problem Does Exist?
A problem exists when someone feels bad about something that can be changed.

If your partner says "I have a problem with the way you do dishes," there IS a problem to be worked on. Saying "there's nothing wrong with how I do dishes" only asks your partner to hide their feelings from you. If they stop talking about the problem, it "goes underground" and may get added to a pile of other resentments. It does not go away.


How To Handle People Who Say A Problem Isn't There:

Tell them: "It IS a problem, because what I feel matters!"
[The person you need to say this to may be you!]



The SIGNIFICANCE of the Problem:
"How IMPORTANT Is The Problem?"

When we pretend a problem isn't significant we say things like:
"It's not important."
"It's no biggy."
"It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't matter much."

How Do We Know How Important A Problem Is?

We know how important a problem is
by the AMOUNT of discomfort we feel in our bodies.
Each person needs to notice how they feel
and decide for themselves how important a problem is.

If your partner says "I have a problem with the way you do dishes" the problem is significant already
- just because it bothered them enough to tell you about it. Saying "It doesn't matter" tells them that their feelings don't matter to you. (Then you have a much bigger problem on your hands!)


How To Handle People Who Say A Problem Isn't Important?

Tell them: "I know how strongly I feel about this and I know it IS important!"
[The person you need to say this to may be you!]



The SOLVABILITY of the Problem:
"Can the Problem Be SOLVED?"

When we pretend a problem can't be solved, we say things like:
"Nothing can be done about it."
"It's hopeless."
"It can't be fixed."
"That's just the way I am."

How Do We Know If A Problem Is Solvable or Not?

ALL problems are solvable,
unless they require us to do something that is physically impossible.
"We should get along better" is solvable.
"We should learn to fly with our wings" is unsolvable!

When we claim we can't change,
we are really saying we won't change.

Of course, we certainly don't have to change anything
that we don't want to change.
But we need to take responsibility for saying "No"
- to keep communication clear,
and so we don't end up in ongoing and unnecessary arguments.

We just need to firmly say something like:
"I know you don't like the way I do dishes,
but I'm the one doing them
and I'm going to do them this way."

If your partner OFTEN says they "can't" do things you want them to do,
the problem may be that you keep wanting them
to do things your way rather than their own way.
This is "controlling" behavior on your part.

If you wonder if you might be "controlling,"
go back to your own feelings - the sensations in your body.
And ask yourself:
"Are my bad feelings about what I said they were about ("the dishes"),
or do I feel angry and scared just because I 'm not controlling what's going on?"


How To Handle People Who Say A Problem Isn't Solvable?

Tell them: "There's nothing impossible about it and you know it.
We can do things differently."
[The person you need to say this to may be you!]


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Enjoy Your Changes!

Everything here is designed to help you do just that!

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Write To Me, I Want To Hear From You!
Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist (Milwaukee) 

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