Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Toolbox to help work through problems

Let's face it, we all have problems and face new challenges all the time. In actual fact, if one day we have no problems, then this will become a problem, because we will be bored, and have no more meaning and purpose.  So if problems in life are inevitable, how can we deal with these more effectively.

So let's consider our toolbox.

First of all, stop and define WHAT the problem ACTUALLY is.  Try to see the problem for what it IS, not worse than what it is. When we are stressed, we tend to catastrophize and see things worse than it actually is.  Try to step back, be present, and perceive rather than judge.

Then consider which of the 4 following tools to use:

  1. Run and Avoid.  This is a very important tool.  For example, if we see a snake in our path, avoid!  If there is a bushfire nearby, avoid!  However, most people use this tool inappropriately.  They avoid when they shouldn't avoid.  If you have a problem with your partner, probably avoidance is probably ideal in the long term.  So the key here is to use the right tool, for the right situation, or problem.  If you need to put a screw in the wall, then a hammer is not the ideal tool.
  2. The opposite of run and avoid is to show aggression, blame, to become critical and fight!  This is a very useful tool if we are in danger, and we cannot avoid or negotiate.  Blame, anger, and fight may help us get out of dangerous situations. Aggression tends to cause disconnection, and destroy relationships, so remember, use this tool with caution. 
  3. Our 3rd tool is acceptance.  This is difficult for many as we have been conditioned to fix things rather than letting things go.  If someone saids to me, "Vin, you are a terrible cook." How would I respond?  I can get defensive and become critical of them, or, I can just concede and say, "You are right!".... End of story.  Again, some of us use this tool inappropriately.  For example, if our children is failing in their schooling, should we just let that go and accept it?  Maybe not.  Some action might be useful to improve the situation.
  4. The last tool is where most of us also find difficult, and that is, assertiveness.  The problem is that most of us don't know the subtle difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.  One of the best way to differentiate this is to sense if there is blame or anger in your emotion.  Assertiveness with blame will come across as aggressive.  Examples of assertiveness and aggression are outlined below:
"We need to talk or else it is over" = Aggression

"We need to talk" in a demanding voice = Aggression as it implies that we need to talk. I don't really care whether you want to talk or not. I want to talk.

"I acknowledge that it is hard for your to talk about these things, and that you really hate it, and at the same time, our relationship is very important to me.  Do you think we can talk about it, so that we can solve this problem together? = Assertiveness.  Assertiveness has no blame, and accepts that both conflicting ideas/values can coexist.  Hence the phrase, "and at the same time", instead of the usual word, "but".

So be careful not to use the word "but" after a validation/acknowledgment.  For example, "I understand that you don't really want to talk but I want to talk."  So take away the "but"!  In health coaching, we call this butectomy!  "But" negates the validation, so please avoid.

Imagine saying, "You are a great singer artist, BUT you don't have the right image for it."

In essence, if one predominantly uses the "avoidance and blame", this is high risk for stress, depression, and anxiety, as chronic avoidance and blame teaches us powerlessness, and powerlessness leads to hopelessness, and hopelessness may lead to depression. 

If one uses acceptance and assertiveness predominantly, one is more resilient.

The great news is, these skills can be learnt, apply and cultivate in everyday life!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.