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Shift focus away from the problem/solution paradigm April 16, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Fear and Anxiety, Solving Problems.
Tags: , , , , , ,

The usual adage in personal growth writing on problem solving is that success is more likely if we shift the bulk of our attention to the potential solution(s) instead of fretting about the problem.

However, perhaps we should consider focusing on neither the problem nor on the possible solution. Both are intertwined in the problem-solving paradigm, and both focus-approaches are non-productive and limiting.

At least, that is my interpretation of a suggestion made by Dr. Richard Carlson, who comments that by obsessing about the problem/solution combination, we are engaging in an intellectual and emotional approach that is counterproductive.

Why? This idea seems counterintuitive.

Because, Carlson says, obsessing about the problem and by implication its solution, we create anxiety and stress and thereby a state-of-mind which is not conducive to clear thinking and finding a way out of whatever difficulties we are facing. Obsessing affects our overall mood negatively and gets in the way of finding answers.

The key, Carlson says lies in “not focusing on the problems, not giving them the energy and attention they need to grow in our minds, making them seem worse. We do this not to avoid facing the problems, but to make room for solutions to grow.” (1)

(1) You Can Be Happy No Matter What, Dr. Richard Carlson, New World Library, Novato, California.



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