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Got a Problem? Here are your Options

With every problem, comes a decision: ‘Am I going to do something about this or not?' How you answer this question reveals your options.

You don’t want to actively solve your problem, here are your options:

Share it: Some say sharing your problem is halfway to solving it. Talking about a problem can help, but if this is your only response to problems, you may end up driving your friends and family crazy.

Deny it: Well this hardly seems a healthy or viable solution. Often it isn’t. Ignoring a problem can lead to more problems or bigger ones that are more difficult for you to solve on your own. But denial can be a useful coping mechanism for a short time until you are emotionally ready to deal with something.

Avoid it: Avoidance of situations can provide immediate relief, but if used often and inappropriately, it can increase anxiety in the long-term. If your problem makes you unsafe or puts you in harms way, avoidance is a viable and worthwhile option. If not, avoid avoiding instead.

Reflect on it: Thinking about a problem may be a useful exercise but if reflecting turns into ruminating, this can lead to more problems including sleeping difficulties, anxiety, and depressed mood.

Wait it out: Sometimes passively waiting for a problem to solve itself or waiting for someone else (in a more powerful position) to solve it is more effective than if you try to solve it yourself. Patience, in this case, can be a virtue.

You want to actively solve your problem, these are your options:

Solve it! Brainstorm all the possible solutions, pick out the top three and write pros and cons for each, then choose one, plan your approach, and see what happens. Complex problems may require more problem-solving attempts. Nothing’s working? Consider your other options.

Reframe it: Change your perspective. Can you put a different spin on it or use this experience to learn something new or challenge yourself? Is there a silver lining, another door opening, or any other metaphoric opportunity? The way you think about a problem fundamentally affects how you respond to it, and an optimistic outlook is going to help you whether you can solve your problem or not.

Ask for help: Can’t do it alone, enlist help and use the resources in the community that are available to you. Problem too big or personal to tell your friends, see a professional.

Accept it: The reality is not all problems have solutions, sometimes life just sucks. Acceptance is not a passive state, it’s not giving up, and it’s not saying it’s okay. Accepting is an active choice to see reality as it is, and move forward.

One final tip

Humour always helps: If you are able to find a way to laugh at yourself or laugh about your predicament, you will not only lift your mood but also your ability to cope no matter what the outcome.

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