How to Deal With Problems

Two Parts:Setting a Path to Correct ProblemsHandling Challenges

Every person has problems: even the wealthiest individual on the globe has challenges in life. There are times when problems feel overwhelming and like you might not be able to get past them. But by taking responsibility for your problems and setting a path to correct them in a constructive way, you can deal with any problems that come your way.

Part 1
Setting a Path to Correct Problems

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    Stay as calm as possible. It is common to overreact when you face a problem, but this can cause you to make bad decisions.[1] Before you begin tackling your problems, get in control of your emotions, which may help you stay calm and more effectively deal with whatever you’re facing.
    • Take a few deep breaths and repeat to yourself “let” when you inhale and “go” when you exhale. This can help control your heart rate and allow you to relax.[2]
    • Repeat to yourself “I can get through this. It’s challenging, but I can find a solution.”
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    Accept responsibility for the problem. Consciously acknowledge the problem and then accept responsibility for your part in it.[3] This can allow you to begin actively and constructively dealing with any problem.[4]
    • Write down or list the problems and their causes. This can help you more readily visualize, accept, and even deal with a problem.
    • For example, if you missed a mortgage payment, accept that you bear some, if not all, responsibility for this.[5] Likewise, if you have bad grades, acknowledge the role that you played in getting those bad grades.
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    Evaluate situations before you respond. If you find yourself dealing with a problem and you are not sure what or who caused it, take a moment to think before you react. It’s easy to blame someone else for problems, especially when you feel challenged or overwhelmed, but blaming others is counterproductive and may even cause further issues.[6] Take a moment to determine if the problem was caused by external factors (other people or things beyond your control), internal factors (something you did or failed to do), or a mixture of the two.
    • External factors. If someone hits your car while it is parked in a parking lot, then this would be an example of a problem caused by external factors. You did not cause the accident and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.
    • Internal factors. If you arrive late to work because you hit the snooze button on your alarm too many times, then this would be an example of an internal factor. In this situation, it would be important to acknowledge your role in arriving late to work so that you can avoid making the same mistake in the future.
    • Mixture. If your group gets a poor grade on a group presentation, then chances are that there are things that all of you could have done better, not just one person. Try to identify your role in the situation and take responsibility for it.
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    Find a quick solution. Many problems require an immediate or fast solution. By staying calm and giving yourself as much time as you have, you can find a quick solution to your problem.
    • Remember to take a deep breath before you start reacting.
    • Evaluate or assess the situation and any information about it as quickly as you can.[7] For example, if your toilet overflows, you can check the tank or the bowl to see what the issue is. Likewise, if someone is yelling at you and it appears they might get aggressive, you can quickly figure out that it’s best to remove yourself from the situation.
    • Give yourself as much time as you think you have to break down the problem and react with a solution. For example, if you realize your insurance has expired and you didn’t get a renewal notice, call your insurance company and ask about the options to get coverage as soon as possible.[8]
    • Think about different solutions to the problem and then decide which is the most appropriate.[9] For example, if your toilet overflowed, you can either call a plumber immediately or try and stop the water from running. However, you might also want to try and stop the water by closing the valve on the tank and then calling your plumber or plunging the toilet.
    • Consider other perspectives if the problem involves another person or other people.[10]
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    Identify problematic patterns. When you sit down and acknowledge your problems, especially without blaming others, you may recognize some patterns in your behavior that lead to challenges. Identifying any patterns that lead to problems may help you more effectively deal with them.
    • List anything that causes you problems. For example, “paying bills on time” or “excelling at work/ school.”
    • Figure out what you have the power to change, which can help you start dealing with the problem.
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    Set goals to solve problems. Part of dealing with any problem is setting a goal to overcome it. Set goals to deal with your problems that you can attain.[11]
    • Use the SMART method to set goals towards solving your problems. SMART means: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely.[12] For example, maybe you want to handle your delinquent mortgage. Your goal might be “I want to settle my mortgage issue with the bank within the next two months. I’ll contact my lender and speak about the issues surrounding my delinquency and ask about what options are available to mean to get my account back in good standing.”[13]
    • Write down your problem and projected goal of solving it on paper. Visual cues can reinforce your willingness to deal with your problems. For example, you could write the following: “I spent my money unwisely and couldn’t pay the mortgage. I need to track my spending habits and get my account back in good standing.”
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    Keep your expectations realistic. Keeping the expectations for outcomes to problems within reason can help you more effectively deal with them.[14] Tying yourself to an unrealistic solution may set you up for additional problems and stress.[15]
    • Check if your expectations are realistic by looking at the goals you’ve set to solve the problem.
    • For example, depending on how much your mortgage costs and how far behind you are in payments, you may not be able to pay the entire amount back in two or three months. Remember that you have to eat and pay other bills. Consider speaking to your lender, partner, or financial planner about strategies to effectively solve the problem.
    • Maintaining realistic solutions minimizes stress that might make it difficult to deal with the problem effectively.[16]
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    Have faith in yourself. Being negative and dwelling on your problems isn’t constructive. Have faith in yourself and your ability to deal with your problems in a constructive way, which can help you more effectively deal with them.[17] Use your past victories to help inspire and bolster your strength in times of trouble.
    • Give yourself a chance to focus on what is positive in your life. This may put your problems in perspective and show you that you can deal with any challenge life throws at you.[18]
    • Say a positive affirmation to yourself. For example, “I know I have a problem with my grades overall, but I am really good at chemistry class. I can apply my skills from that class to my other ones.”
    • Surround yourself with individuals who also have faith in your abilities and bolster your willingness to solve problems quickly and effectively.

Part 2
Handling Challenges

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    Take action. The best way to deal with your problem is to take action as soon as possible. Once you’ve acknowledged your problems and set up some constructive goals to handle them, take action to meet those goals.[19]
    • Demonstrate initiative in dealing with the problem. For example, if you know you can’t make a payment, call your lender or the company and explain your situation. Ask if you can find a solution that works for both parties. Likewise, if you got a bad review at work, schedule an appointment with your boss to see how you can best improve.
    • Avoid being impulsive when you take action. For example, if a friend is spreading rumors about you, compose an email addressing her behavior. Allow the email to sit overnight so that you don’t write anything you may later regret.
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    Support your goals and actions. Maintain your positive behaviors while dealing with problems. This can help you more effectively support the goals and actions you are pursing to handle challenges.
    • Remind yourself that you want to deal with your problems by reading the list of problems and goals you wrote.
    • Speak to friends, family, and other persons involved in problems to help remind you that you want to successfully deal with them.
    • Schedule an appointment with a counselor or mental health professional. If you find that your problems are causing you significant stress or you feel like they are overwhelming you so much that you can’t get your head around how to deal with them, talking to a professional might help.[20]
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    Let go of negativity. Remember that negativity can hinder your ability to deal with a problem. Reframe the problem and negativity into something positive, which may help you more effectively deal with the situation.[21]
    • Use the problem as a learning experience. For example, if you couldn’t pay your mortgage because you spent the money on entertainment, learn that impulse spending can have serious consequences for yourself.
    • Reframe your negative attitude with regard to problems by seeing it in a different light. For example, if you aren’t doing well in your history class but it is just before your favorite class, then look at the history class as being one step closer to your favorite time of the day. This may help improve your general attitude, help you pay attention and improve your grade.
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    Welcome positive changes. If you’ve acknowledged your problems and formulated goals to deal with them, you’ve likely begun making positive changes in your life. Welcome these changes and the ways they’ll help you deal with your problems.[22]
    • Find the positive with your problems, which may shift your mindset and help you more effectively deal with them. For example, “my bad grades made me realize that I really want to go to college and have to improve my performance at school to be accepted.”
    • Avoid being afraid of the changes and remind yourself that you’re doing this to help yourself deal with problems.[23]
    • Use positive language. For example, “I’m dealing with my problems in a constructive way. It’s going to take a while to solve, but I’m on the right path.”
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    Accept setbacks. If you’re actively trying to deal with problems, chances are that you’ll have a setback or two.[24] Acknowledge the setback, take necessary action on it, and then keep moving forward to deal with your problems.
    • Try not to take responsibility for the outcome if the outcome depends on other people. For example, if your friend is spreading rumors, you can write her and address the issue, but you cannot expect her to apologize.[25]
    • Control only that what you can. For example, you cannot control if your friend will apologize after reading the letter. Likewise, you cannot control how a lender will react if you suggest a different payment solution on your delinquent mortgage.[26]
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    Keep moving forward. Sometimes problems take a little longer to solve than you anticipated. Keep moving towards your solutions and goals, which may help you deal with the problem in a constructive manner.[27]
    • Stay positive. There is evidence that a positive attitude promotes progress. Sticking to your plans and positive attitude to deal with your problems, which can help you actively deal with them.[28]
    • For example, if you continue to get bad grades, keep trying. Any progress on your grades is good progress.
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    Find balance. Dealing with problems can drain you physically and mentally. Give yourself the chance to rest and focus on other things. Aiming for balance in your life can help you more effectively deal with your problems.[29]
    • Take short breaks during the day to take a walk or a run. This can distract your mind from your problems and may make you more able to deal with them.[30]
    • Give yourself time alone or with the people you love. This can help remind you that you have support and why you are dealing with your problems.[31]

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Categories: Goal Realization & Problem Solving