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Perspective is a wonderful thing.  It can be a great eye opener.  But it can also be the cause of many perceived problems when your perception is too narrow.

So how can you get better at solving your problems?  Simply get better at widening your perception.

Here are some great problem solving methods to widen your perspective and help see the true reality of perceived problems.

Socratic Questioning

Socratic questioning is a bit like the CBT method of analysing evidence.  By asking questions around your problem you can determine if the problem does indeed match reality or is it merely a self-created problem in your mind.

  • Is this problem realistic?
  • What is the evidence for and against this problem?
  • Might this problem be born out of habit rather than based on fact?
  • Am I thinking in the all or nothing/black or white thinking style?
  • In what way might I be focusing only on one aspect of the problem?
  • Am I judging my problem based on feelings rather than facts?

These are just a handful of questions that will allow you to look at the problem from a wider perspective and reach a conclusion on how realistic the perceived problem is.  You may find that it’s simply not a problem at all – or at least not a bigger problem as you first perceived and that it’s simply the evolution of our psychological negative bias “making a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Active Problem Solving

Active problem solving is very useful for situations when a problem has a solution.  Sometimes it may help you realise the problem isn’t as big as you thought either and it may not need solving.

The first step in active problem solving is first figuring out the answer to this question.  The best way to do this is get pen to paper and write down your problem to get it out of your head.  Once you’ve written down the problem – read it back and have a bit of a think about the reality of the problem.  Can it be solved or are you creating an unsolvable problem in your own mind?  If the problem is unsolvable or appears unsolvable then it might be better to move on to another method of gaining perspective.

If however you feel the problem is most certainly solvable your next course of action is to analyse the possible actions to take.  So once again get pen to paper and make a small list of things you can potentially do to solve the problem.  You need not go in to too much detail – a small summary will be fine initially.

Once you have a list of potential actions read them all and have a quick think about the pros and cons of each course of action and decide on which makes the most sense.  Things you might consider is the difficulty or ease, the length of time it will take, the benefits and what not.

Once you have chosen a course of action it’s now time to dive in to that action a little deeper.  Have a think about the steps required and write them out in chronological order.

The final step is of course to take action – start with the top of your action list and work your way down.  In the meantime try and relax a little knowing that you’ve actively worked on solving your problem are taking steps in the right direction.

Unsolvable?

Finally what can you do if your problem is a problem but it has no solution – or you simply don’t have the resources to solve it?  The easiest thing you can do is stop struggling with the problem by letting go.  By letting go you are accepting the reality of the problem.

Hopefully by first getting some perspective on the problem you will be in a better place to let go.  This may not happen immediately given our minds love to talk shit but now you can take solace knowing that you have done the hard work getting some perspective and the mind will move on in it’s own time.