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Monday, March 4, 2013

Motivational Monday: When Nothing Goes Right...4 Creative Ways to Solve Problems

Thought for the Day:  I had a very busy day and decided to repost this Motivational Monday post from last March 2013, when I started this blog series of motivational posts. Have a great start to the week. I have sad news to tell you. Yesterday, 6 and 1/2 year old Katy Sullivan, the rockstar heart transplant recipient passed away. She had a year and a half with her new heart and was able to return to dance lessons and lead a normal life for some of the time, but a couple of months ago started a downhill slide. There are 3 posts about Katy: How to Heal Broken Hearts,  Better Than the OscarsLet It Go from Songs for the Soul.

Thought for the Day: My daughter sent me an image of an anonymous inspirational quote on facebook this week which said, "when nothing goes right... go left." She sends me quotes & images when she finds one that she thinks I might want to use in my blog or on my facebook page (where I post creative images & quotes). I loved the quote which came in simple black ink on white background (see photo on right). However,  I felt I needed to expand on it. The image above begins to give my take on how I help people explore all the options when nothing seems to be going right. I decided to use it to offer four tips to help you find alternatives when nothing seems to be going right. Feel free to ask questions about my new quote: "when nothing is going right to go left, up, down, around, under & anyway you can to make things work better. - Dr. Barbara Lavi"

Creativity plays an integral part in my therapeutic approach, which I call A.C.T. Now Psychotherapy. The "A" stands for "Active," the "C" for "Creative," & the "T," for "Time Sensitive." Even though it is one third of the equation, in many ways the "C" is the most important element in my approach.  Our society has an ambivalent relationship with creativity. On the one hand we love music, art & photography. The huge success of facebook & YouTube are evidence of the love affair we have with photos, videos & music. However, the number of starving artists eking out a living in odd jobs attests to the fact that we do not reward artists well unless they become famous. How many people are discouraged from following their creative muse when they choose a career? In school certain types of creativity are not rewarded either. The emphasis on rote learning, multiple choice & true or false testing reflects this tendency.

It is not surprising, therefore, that many people lose touch with creative problem solving skills & do not have access to them when confronting problems in life. The original quote even fits the solution into one of two options: right or left. So here are a few creative problem solving tips:

1) There is not one right answer to problems we confront in life. In reality even the way the quote is set up reflects a mistaken notion we are taught to believe. It is an over simplification to think of life in terms of "right" or "wrong." There are endless "right" ways to live our lives. What may be right for one person may not be right for you or someone else. We must each find what feels right to us. There could be many different "right" ways to live for each of us. Every problem therefore,  has multiple possible solutions.

Often when we feel like everything is going wrong, it is a sign of some depression. Depression makes us even more likely to think that there are no possible alternatives. When we feel depressed we also tend to get stuck, become inactive & reclusive. Other times, we keep repeating behaviors that are not working. The first step to getting out of these viscous cycles is to use our creative minds to imagine several alternative possibilities. Try coming up with at least 3 or 4 different ways you might try to solve the problem.

2) As you begin to fantasize about these possibilities, fire your inner dream buster. Your dream buster is the critic inside your head that says, "You don't have the money, skills, connections, health (& endless other excuses) to accomplish that solution." Even if you doubt that you can accomplish these alternatives, ignore the critic's negative voice & write them down.

3) Pick one of these possible new directions & come up with 3 or 4 action steps to explore how you could start taking baby steps toward starting in the new direction.

4) Try a few of the action steps. For instance, if you are unhappy in your current job, but afraid to leave in today's difficult job market, You can go on & begin to search for jobs in your field to see what is out there. Or you could call someone you know who left your company & is now employed elsewhere to find out how they are doing & whether they are hiring. If an option feels right, keep pursuing it, if not, try another one of the other options till you find one that fits & works for you. Or go back to step one & try again till you find a new direction.

In subsequent posts, I'll tell you about some additional creative techniques that can help in situations like these. I will share stories of how my clients developed these kind of creative skills & moved in directions they did not imagine were possible before they started in therapy or read my book. I hope you will share your stories of ways you found new directions when you felt stuck in the past.

Have a great start to the week!

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