How to Face Problems in Your Life
Having problems in your life can feel overwhelming and it may be that the last thing you want to do is face them. Fortunately though, dealing and coping with problems is a well-studied area and there are many cognitive, emotional, and behavioral steps that can be taken to effectively face your problems head on.
Accepting and Understanding the Problem
Acknowledge the problem.It can be tempting to stay away from the issue that is causing you problems. However, avoiding the problem does not help solve it. Instead, accept that the problem exists and ask yourself some questions about it. What are the consequences of this problem? Who does it involve?
- If you don’t think you have a problem, but everyone tells you there is a problem, try to see if there is truth to it.
- If you are having trouble admitting you have a problem, you might be in denial. For example, if you don’t want to accept that a close family member is involved with drugs, you might come up with other excuses for her behavior.
- While denial can be useful at times by protecting your mental health, it can in other cases lead you away from dealing with the problem head on.
- In fact, avoidance often exacerbates the problem and doesn’t provide any lasting relief. Avoiding your problem will continue to create a cycle of stress for you as it will always be weighing on the back of your mind.
- That said, sometimes a little escapism can be healthy. If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out, take a break! Watch a TV show or read a book, or engage in some other hobby you enjoy. You could even just zone out and let your mind wander!
Avoid catastrophizing.Catastrophizing means to have irrational thoughts, such as exaggerating your problem by blowing it out of proportion. For example, you might think that because you failed one class it means that you will never get a good job. Catastrophizing can also mean engaging in all or none thinking (e.g., I'm either going to solve this problem or my life is over).
- You can avoid catastrophizing by being cognizant of when you are doing it. This requires that you monitor your own thoughts and try to check them for accuracy.
- You can monitor your thoughts by remembering to think about them and by asking yourself if someone else had that thought, would you think they were being accurate?
Think of the origin of the problem.When did you first notice this problem? Sometimes you may not notice something until it has been going on for a long time. This might especially be true if your problem involves other people (e.g. your sister may have been involved with drugs for a long time before you noticed).
- If you think you know when the problem started, think about events that happened at that time. The root cause might be related to it. For example, if your grades started slipping in school after your father moved away, maybe you’re having a hard time adjusting to this change.
Put things into perspective.Most likely, your problem is not the end of the world: you can still carry on despite it. Every problem either has a solution or can be looked at in a different way that shows it’s not really such a problem at all.
- For example, your problem might be that you don’t manage to make it to school on time. By changing a few habits or making different transportation arrangements, this can be changed.
- Some things can’t be changed, such as a permanent disability or the death of a loved one, but you can learn to live with it and thrive in the wake of it. Also keep in mind that people often think negative events will make them feel worse and worse for longer than they actually do.
- Telling yourself this isn’t the end of the world doesn’t mean your problem is not really a problem or is insignificant. It just helps you internalize that your problems are not insurmountable.
Embrace the challenge.Your problem can be thought of as a negative thing or a thing in which you have the opportunity to rise to the occasion.For example, if you are a failing a class, you could view this as a major problem and become depressed about it. Or, you could embrace the challenge it offers. Your failing suggests you need to work harder or learn new studying and organizational strategies to succeed. You could use this problem as an opportunity to learn such skills.
- Dealing with problems and solving them can make you more competent and also more empathetic toward others who have their own problems.
Expressing That You Have a Problem
Write your problem down.Put your problem on paper with pen. This will help the problem seem more tangible and will make you more likely to try to solve it when it is written down and staring you in the face.
- For example, if your problem is that you don't have enough money, you could write that down. You could also write down the implications of that problem to drive home the point and motivate you to solve it. An implication of not having enough money might be that you are stressed out and that you can't enjoy the kinds of things that you would like to.
- If the problem isn't something private, put the list somewhere you see it so you don't forget to act on it. For example, you might put it on your fridge.
Embrace your feelings.Your feelings can act as guides that let you know how your problem solving is going. Feelings are important, even the negative ones. If you feel very frustrated or angry, for example, rather than trying to brush those feelings under the rug, acknowledge them and assess their cause. By finding the source, you may also find solutions to your problem.
- It’s okay to feel upset, angry, worried so long as you know that being upset, angry or worried won’t help solve the problem. You will have to take action to solve the problem. Still, these emotions can help you realize you have a problem, as well as suggest its source.
- Some ways to calm down when you're feeling upset include: focusing on your breathing, count to 10 (or higher if you need to), gently talk yourself down (tell yourself "it's going to be alright," or "take it easy.").Try going for a walk or run or listening to calming music.
See a counselor.If your problem involves your mental health or well-being, or is impacting either, consider looking up a mental health professional and booking an appointment. These professionals can help you cope with and solve your problems.
- To find a mental health professional, try this website:
Research the problem.Many problems are common enough to have plenty of details online. Your research can include journals or discussion forums. Behavioral, financial, academic or any other issue you may have, will most likely have been written about online.
- Consider talking to people who have been through something similar or are professionals in the subject related to your problem.
- For example, if your problem is academic related, talk to your teacher about it or another student who has already done the subject or course you’re having difficulty with.
- Understanding how problems come to be might help you face them better. Refocusing your attention on solving the problem will help decrease unproductive emotional tendencies such as guilt and anxiety, which can stymie problem solving skills and capabilities.
Seek out an expert.If your problem involves something that an expert can help with, be sure to seek one out. For example, if your problem is that you consider yourself to be overweight and want to lose some pounds, you could try the help of a nutritionist or physical trainer.
- Make sure that when you seek out advice, it's from a licensed professional in their field, which proves they have the skills needed to help you with your particular problem.
- There are people who might claim to be an expert. If they are lacking the right credentials, chances are they aren't.
Look to others who solved your problem.Think of other people who have been in a similar situation and how they resolved it. Could the same way work for you? For example, if you are struggling with addiction to alcohol, you could attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and get a sense of the strategies successfully sober people used to remain that way.
Brainstorm solutions.Make a list of possible solutions to your problem. Think of where you can start, whom you can ask for help and what resources you will need. Be sure to think of lots of solutions and not to judge them as you are thinking of them. Just write down everything that comes to mind and evaluate whether it is a good or bad solution later on.
- Consider the anatomy of the problem. Usually a problem is not just one problem alone - it has consequences and affects other areas of your life. Which part of the problem do you think you should address first?
- For example, if your problem is that you never get to go on vacation, sub-problems may be that it is difficult for you to get time off of work, and it is difficult for you to save money to be able to afford a vacation.
- You could address these sub-problems separately: You could cut back on eating out while simultaneously talking to your boss about how you are burnt out and could use a week off, and make a case that you would ultimately be more productive in the long run if allowed to recuperate.
Evaluate your solutions.Ask yourself some questions that may help you decide whether to pursue one approach versus another. Ask yourself:
- Whether the solution will, in fact, solve your problem.
- How efficient the solution is in terms of the time and other resources it will require.
- How you might feel it you choose that solution relative to another solution.
- What the costs and benefits of the solution are.
- Whether this solution has worked for others in the past.
Put your plan into action.Once you know what you want to do and you’ve gathered your resources, implement your solution and face your problem head on. If the first solution doesn’t work, try your plan B or go back to the drawing board and make one. The important thing is to keep going until you've successfully conquered the problem.
- As you engage in your plan, reward yourself for your small successes so you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough!
- Resist the temptation to avoid your problems if your plans don’t work. Remember not to catastrophize –just because one solution didn't solve the problem, that doesn't mean there isn't another method to solve your problem.
QuestionHow can I get through problems when I am young?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on the problem, but you might look for supportive friends, ask for help from adults in your life, use text support lines or call lines to reach out for help, using your phone.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I overcome problems with my schoolwork and classmates?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIgnore bullies. If you're having trouble with schoolwork, just get extra help. Talk to the teacher after class and explain the difficulties you're having. If you are having fights with your friends, talk to them and sort it out, but if they refuse, then you might want to get a teacher or a trusted adult to sort the issue between you and your friend(s).Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean when you are interested in both a male and a female?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPeople who have a sexual interest in both males and females are called bisexual.Thanks!
QuestionIf anybody teases me I get angry and say bad words. How can I stop this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTake some time to figure out why you're so insecure and work on liking yourself more. When you have high self-esteem, teasing won't hurt so much.Thanks!
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