How to Solve Problems and Make Decisions


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Thought | Posted on 01-11-2017

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Problem Solving[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

About a month ago a colleague was telling me about her business friend who picks up potential clients everywhere she goes. She seems to have perfected the art of meeting random people, telling them what she does for a living, and eventually signing them on as clients.

This peaked my curiosity as I’ve been struggling for what to say when people ask what I do. Often  I revert back to telling them about my old SEO career and how I’m now retired. Then I mumble something about what I’m up to these days. But overall, I haven’t felt very clear about it.

So I started thinking about what might be a good “elevator pitch” for the work I do now. As I pondered this a bit, it suddenly hit me:

I help people solve problems.

Succinct and to the point. Plus it seems like a good conversation starter. Surely the next question someone might ask is, “Really? How do you do that?”

To which I might say:

“Most people try to solve their problems from the thinking that created the difficulty in the first place. What I do is help them get in touch with their own wisdom, which is where we get our creative new ideas from.”

While that sounded great and true to me in theory, I realized at that point I hadn’t actually solved anyone’s specific problems yet. I knew if I were to be able to confidently tell others that I help people solve problems, I needed to put it to the test.

So I did what every 21st century woman does and posted to Facebook! I said that I was looking for 5 people who had some sort of problem they were having trouble solving. The response was great. So far I’ve chatted with 17 people, and have a few more video calls scheduled.

My goal was to simply do my best to point people to their own problem-solving wisdom.

Here’s how it played out:

Some of the “problems” were actually decisions.

A couple of people were having trouble making decisions about something specific. A brief Facebook messenger conversation was all that was necessary to help them decide with certainty what to do. While I’d love to take credit for providing them with some amazing information that made their decision easy, they truly did it themselves!

You see, with decision making, our own innate wisdom already knows what’s best for us. So it was simply a matter of pointing them in that direction. Both of these individuals went away pleased with their choices, and from what they’ve told me since, they never looked back.

Other problems had no readily apparent solution.

In fact, when I first heard some of the problems, in all honesty, I got a bit scared! My own insecure thinking kicked in causing me to wonder what I got myself into. I learned that knowing their problems in advance was more of a hindrance than a help. It didn’t do me any good to get all caught up in my own thoughts about their problem. So I stopped asking what their problem was in advance of our chat.

I knew that the only way I could truly help people was to be as present as possible. So I showed up with no expectations and simply listened.

You see, problems are only problems when we believe they’re a problem.

Often what we label as a problem is something we have conjured up in our own mind.

For instance, one person I spoke with felt that her sleeping habits were a problem. But the more I listened and learned about her situation, the less it looked like a problem. Not only to me, but to her as well.

By the end of the conversation, she felt lighter, and freer.

Another woman was having trouble in her business because she believed there were certain things she had to do to get clients. I pointed out that there are zillions of ways to run and market a business. And that she would be most likely to succeed if she did those she enjoyed. This was a huge relief to her. Rather than feeling paralyzed by what she thought she should be doing, she was now able move forward in a way that felt right and authentic to her.

She too left our chat feeling lighter and more spacious.

Many problems were not so easily solvable.

For instance, one woman had a bad case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which was severely affecting her ability to sleep. I tried providing her with some practical solutions that had worked for relieving my own tinnitus in the past. But she had already tried most of them without success and was feeling pretty hopeless about there being any solution.

This signaled to me that the only true recourse available to her was to let go of trying to get rid of or change it.

Letting go (aka surrendering) is sometimes the only solution.

It’s also the hardest.

But wanting things to be different than they are right now is always a path to suffering. Yet if/when we let go and accept those things that are not in our control, e.g., a spouse leaving us, a major health condition, someone dying, that’s when we’ve found our ticket to freedom.

While it doesn’t change the circumstances, letting go changes everything else–and we are suddenly free.

How about you? Do you have any problems or decisions where the right answer isn’t clear to you at the moment?

Feel free to get in touch!


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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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Thank you, Jill!
The acceptance part was my highlight. I´m letting go now.
Good Night!

You’re welcome, Thomas!