Becoming Solution-Focused

It’s always nice to share your problems. It feels good to have someone to hear you out. But there should come a point when we stop talking about our problems and start seeking solutions. In short we need to become solution-focused.

This is an issue I have observed in most of the people I have met. People are obsessed with focusing on their problems so much that day in and day out they whine and cry and stay stuck in that cycle. What happens next is that time flies and a solution is never found.

This was even observed in a few of my clients who had come to me for counselling sessions. After the first 2-3 sessions when we finally approach the end of discussing their problems and they have finally let it all out, we come towards finding a solution, not everyone wants to come back for another session then.

So why are we so focused on discussing our problems and not finding a solution even though we do seek advices from other people then and now? There are several reasons for it. To start with, when we discuss about our problems and people listen to us attentively we love that attention and hence one of the reasons why we enjoy playing the victim role. This can also go back to our childhood when we were mostly getting attention and receiving comfort when we cried and were helpless and there was rarely any appreciation for staying calm and solving a problem. Our society is another source that shapes our behaviour and if you are an Asian you would agree with me as to how much popular a television series become if there is a helpless victim who is constantly under the cruelty of a prosecutor in it.

Another reason why people usually don’t focus on finding a solution is because people rarely want to take charge of their problems and like playing the blame game or they are waiting for someone else to be their saviour. It’s easy to blame our peers, our family members, our in-laws, our bosses or colleagues for the problems taking place in our lives. I accept the fact that they can be the very people who might be causing problem in our lives but many times we can reduce these problems by simply taking a stand for ourselves, by looking for another job or by even changing the way we communicate with others. Life is no fairy tale in which a fairy god mother will save us from all our miseries and problems just like she did for Cinderella.

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Dr. Rick Hanson is a neuroscientist and the author of Hardwiring Happiness, he explains that, brains process positive stimuli very differently from negative stimuli. Hanson explains the brain is like “Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” He writes in his book, “Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory — in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.”

So in order for positive events and experiences to stay up to equally intense negative ones, we purposely need to focus on them for much longer. Moreover, it is scientifically proven that our brains get habitual of certain thought patterns. So when we focus on the negative, with time our brain becomes habitual of thinking negative and it becomes difficult to break out that cycle. Know that solution-focus thinking is one of the aspects of positive thinking.

For further explanation read this article Thinking Positively: Why You Need to Wire Your Brain to Think Positive.

So I will conclude by saying that it’s okay to cry and share your problems but once you are done with it don’t go back to the start of that cycle. List down the various solutions to reduce the problem. Discuss it out with your close friends and family or someone experienced in that matter. Lastly, remember to talk about your problems with Allah.

Mental health

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