How to take control of a problem

Feel like you are going round in circles? It might be because you are. In therapy many people discover that they are facing hard times using old coping strategies that no longer serve them. As a result, they can feel stuck and overwhelmed. To begin getting unstuck, it makes sense to start by looking at your coping strategies. So how do we take control of a problem?

When you have the power to change things

When you can change the situation or at least influence it in some way, then problem-focused coping is the way forward. Examples of problem-focused coping mechanisms include:

Analyzing the situation. Getting a clear grasp on what you can and cannot do to make the situation more manageable. Brain storming all possible actions and then taking time to work out which ones will help most.

Getting help. Talking to someone who can help you to make the necessary changes.

Doing the work. Sometimes, getting through a crisis or short-term problem means changing your routine to just get the work done. But beware that if long working hours become routine, then the problem could become the routine itself. So keep this one in check and only use it on a short-term basis.

Problem-focused coping mechanisms are great when there is a set of problems that you can systematically work through. If you can’t quite see the way through or don’t believe in yourself to achieve it, then you can seek the help you need. In fact, getting the support is a key part of problem-focused coping. So whether it be a friend, teacher, colleague, or mentor, get others on board to help you solve the problem or work on your goal.

However, problem-solving does not work all the time. We all know someone who goes straight into problem-solving mode in every crisis. But when you have no control over the circumstances, problem-solving is likely to make you more frustrated and increase stress overall.

So when things are beyond your control, this calls for a different strategy. To learn all about it, check out my next post, titled ‘How to cope when things are beyond your control’.