Summary Resilience Module 7: Problem Solving

Resilience 7 - Problem Solving

This is a summary of the module Resilience 7 - Problem Solving for your reference.

This module will focus on problem-solving, a necessary skill for enhancing resilience. To recap, resilience is the ability to recover from problematic or stressful situations.

Everyone encounters problems and difficult decisions, both big and small. These situations can naturally create stress in your life. You can face these challenges and lessen their burden by improving your problem-solving skills.

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When you develop good problem-solving skills, you are able to cope with life’s stressors in a positive and productive way. 

Over time, problems that might have increased your stress are easier to manage. You will be better able to adapt to the stress (i.e. be more resilient). Let’s go through the process of problem-solving. 

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First, it is helpful to take a look at how you usually approach issues. Think back to a problem you had over the past few weeks. What mindset did you have when you first encountered the problem?

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To have a more positive attitude or approach to a problem, try to:

1. Recognize that problems are a normal part of life. It is normal to feel upset at times. Remind yourself that others may be facing similar issues. 

Let's go back to our friend, Sally. She faced an issue of high cholesterol, a common problem for many people.

2. Use a growth mindset. See problems as challenges from which to learn and grow. 

Sally saw her elevated cholesterol levels as a challenge, not a hopeless issue.

3. Believe in your ability to solve the problem. Sound familiar? Think back to the previous module, Believe in Your Ability. Remind yourself that you have the skills, strengths, and resources to come up with solutions!

As we saw, Sally knew she could handle her high blood sugar. She based it on her success in improving her cholesterol through nutrition and exercise.

4. Know that challenges require time and effort. Some problems might take longer than others to solve, and that’s okay!

For example, it took time for Sally’s cholesterol and blood sugar levels to improve. It took consistent effort to change her diet and physical activity.

5. Be mindful of your emotional response to the problem. It can be difficult to see the problem clearly when you are experiencing many feelings.

Sally felt excited and proud about improving her health. These emotions kept her motivated. 

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In this Resilience series, you have learned many useful techniques: mindful emotional awareness, growth mindset, cognitive flexibility, and self-efficacy.

They allow you to address challenges in different, more helpful, ways.

You can use the techniques to see problems in a more positive way. Being more positive helps set up the rest of the problem-solving process for success.

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Problem-Solving Steps

We will now go over the problem-solving process. You can use the worksheets provided in your Resilience Workbook to work through the steps.

Step 1. Define the problem

  • What exactly is the problem? 

  • List the details or facts associated with the problem. 

Remember that Sally received a report that her cholesterol levels were high. Sally knew this was due to some of her lifestyle choices, such as physical activity and nutrition.

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Step 2. Use SMART goals

You can write out any goals associated with your issue using a SMART framework. This will help you figure out the details of each of your goals and provide direction to resolve the issue. SMART stands for:

Specific (Who, what, when, where, how, why?)

Measurable (How will you know you achieved your goal?)

Achievable  (Is the goal doable within the timeframe?)

Relevant (Does the goal relate to your overall goal/problem to address?)

Time-bound (How long will it take to complete?)

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Let's use Sally's situation as an example.

The goal: To lower her cholesterol.

The SMART goal: To lower her LDL ("bad") cholesterol by 15mg/dL in 3 months by making changes to her lifestyle, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more.

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Step 3. Brainstorm solutions

Brainstorming is when you come up with possible solutions to address a problem.

Some solutions for Sally’s high cholesterol might be to:

  • Exercise for 20 minutes at least 3 times a week

  • Add at least one fruit and vegetable to each meal

  • Switch from white rice to brown rice

Be sure to consider any challenges related to the solutions. 

For example, Sally may be challenged by: 

  • A very busy schedule and limited time for exercise

  • Lack of grocery stores with healthy foods nearby

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Step 4. Decide on a new solution

Now, you have brainstormed different solutions. How do you decide which one to try first? 

  • For your top three solutions, make a “pros and cons” list.

  • Think back to any challenges you considered in Step 3.

  • Ask yourself: Will this solution achieve my SMART goal?

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Step 5.  Try out the new solution

You weighed the pros and cons. Now it’s time to choose and try the solution that you think will work best. This might require some adjustment to the initial brainstormed idea. 

For example, Sally decides to exercise 1 to 2 times a week to start. This will work better with her current schedule.

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Step 6. Reflect and revise, if needed

Reflect on the solution. Did it work? If the answer is “no,” why didn’t it work? If it did not work, you could try to adjust the current solution or try the next solution on your list.

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Now that you have an understanding of the process of problem-solving, you can follow these steps when a problem arises. Use the worksheets in your Resilience Workbook to guide you.

Remember, your Goodpath coach is also available to assist you with problem-solving.