I know there are so many people, like myself, that when blind sided with a problem that feels like a punch to the gut or a slap to the face, you’re completely unsure how to handle it. There’s no rationale, no deep breathing just the completely awful feeling of knowing doomsday is coming mixed with the terrifying realization that something hit the bottom of your foot while swimming in open water — the fear of not knowing how you’re going to resolve this predicament you’ve found yourself in. The sudden rush of anxiety can be so all consuming that you’re left with no logic or reason, just the feeling that the world, your world, is crashing and burning around you.
Now, there are two things you can do with this sudden feeling of the ground falling out beneath your feet. You can either a) succumb to the dark unknown hidden under the floor that just caved in or b) jump for the rope dangling above your head and swing for safety on a structurally sound piece of flooring. And here’s a spoiler, I’m not letting (a) be your option.
Now I’m not Captain Problem Solver or anything but here’s a 3 step how to for problem solving for those anxiety ridden and irrational thinkers.
- Just stop.
Take a minute or two to ground yourself. Have a little cry if you want to, let out all that frustration and anxiety that has been caused by this looming situation. Get out very negative feeling, take in every fear and worry that this problem is causing and acknowledge it.
Take a deep calming breath. Wipe those tears, wipe your nose, pull your shoulders back and suck in a massive “woosah” breath. Don’t do or say anything irrational, don’t make any rash decisions, don’t cope by making any life altering changes. A deep breath and a moment of calm goes a long way before moving onto step 3.
- Assess your situation.
Is your problem the end of the world? No. Is it catastrophic to you or those around you? Probably not. Was there something you could’ve done to prevent it from happening? Maybe, but is there something you can do now to fix it? Very likely. Does it majorly suck and is very much an inconvenience in your life? Yeah totally 100%, but if it’s not the end of the world and it won’t detrimentally hurt you or anyone else around you then there’s probably something you can do about it.
My aunt told me about 3-year-old Haylee who came up with this little mantra when she’d get stuck in trying to solve a problem, whatever problems toddlers have to solve. My aunt told me that I’d stop what was I was doing, take a big deep breath and assess my situation all well I’d recite the words “Stop. Breave. Fink” yes breathe with a “V” and think with the “F” sound. I’d take my time and think through my problem and find the best solution, sometimes with help and guidance, it’s always okay to ask for help.
I wish I had known this story sooner because since my aunt told it to me I have become so much better at solving my problems and not being irrational. I am able to have my moment of panic, followed by my calming deep breath and then assess my situation accordingly. If my 3-year-old self was able to problem solve before she was able to pronounce her “th” sounds, then me now could sure as hell do it — and 3-year old Haylee believes you can do it too.