Stop and think!

August 31st, 2006 by Sit up a Tree

There’s no better way to get a grip on a problem than to stop what you’re doing and have a good think about the problem or situation.

The stop and think technique has consists of two parts:

  • Stop
  • Think 🙂

Seems like I’m stating the obvious there, but it’s surprising how many people leave out the “stop” part and go straight to thinking.  This doesn’t work because your still in a state where you want to grasp at the first solution that you think of and try that.

That doesn’t work!

If you have a problem or situation that you want to solve you first need to stop what you’re doing and put some distance between yourself and the problem.  Go out for a walk, a run, meditate, have a bath … these are all good ways to stop what you’re doing and break your pattern.

Physically stepping away from the problem offers you a number of benefits:

  • It puts you in a solution seeking mode, rather than in a position where you come up with an idea and try that without thinking it through
  • The distance may give you a new perspective on the problem (maybe you come to the conclusion that it’s not much of a problem anyway)
  • Distance helps you see the problem as it is rather than worse than it is
  • If you’re having a problem with another person, it stops you from saying or doing something in the heat of the moment that you might later regret

Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes of “stop and think” time.  At least 5 minutes of that time should be spent calming yourself down and reminding yourself of all the good things that you have in your life (I know, this is difficult thing to do when you’re in a negative state, that’s why you need to give it time) and then spend another 5 or 10 minutes looking at and then defining the problem you are facing.  Get clear as to what the problem is and what you need to happen to solve it you should try to come up with at least five things that could happen to solve your problems.  Work on what the outcomes to the solution could be.

Only after you’ve defined the problem and come up with possible positive outcomes to the problem, you are ready to spend time looking for ways to make the one or more of the outcomes come true.  You can start by doing this in your head and then go on to working on paper.  You now have your goal (solving the problem), you have a number of paths to that goal (the possible outcomes) and so you now want to plan how to make one or more of those outcomes kick into action.  How to do that is something for a future post, but you might be surprised by the fact that just thinking about the problem might make it go away by itself.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 31st, 2006 at 4:30 am and is filed under Stress Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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