When you have a problem for which the solution is not available or not available now, you are stuck with it. Then what do or can you do about it?
It might trouble you or hurt you, make you worried and frustrated, and the situation can’t be changed and the problem can’t be solved as of now and you can’t avoid or escape it either. You might end up thinking about it all the time or it might be at the back of your mind when you are doing other things. It might have an impact on your other walks of life. They might be unrelated, but the effect it has on you in turn affects you performance in other areas.
You might be asking yourself, I don’t see a solution as of now and not in the near future. So how should I handle it. The future seems bleak with no solution. If the problem can’t be solved (dealt with) then you need to learn to cope with it in a healthy and adaptive manner.
Think short term and long term:
Think about the situation and how you would like to handle it in the short term and in the long term. The short term approach needs to help you cope with the impact on you adaptively. For Eg – if the situation is stressing you out, try out other activities that would help you relax and de-stress. This won’t solve the underlying problem, but will ensure that your stress is not aggravating it even more. Don’t pressure yourself to solve the problem when you are already in emotional distress or to solve a problem for which there is no solution currently.
Take care of yourself:
You end up focusing more and more on the problem and unable to find a solution. Take away the problem focus for some time and focus on yourself and the impact on you. Look at the impact on you physically, mentally and emotionally. Take care of yourself to address the impact.
Observe your thoughts and emotions
Do you find yourself getting stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts and emotions? Does your predictions regarding the future invariably ends up negative and bleak? Consider the possibility that your negative prediction could be false.
Talk to someone
You may want to talk to a trusted friend (who will not worsen it) or a Professional Counsellor or a Therapist or coach.
Gain some perspective:
Perspective- a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view; a frame of reference, an interpretation. If you look at a building from the ground it will look in a particular way. If you look at it from the top floor it will look different. If you look at it from 3000ft above, it will be unrecognizable.
If you are not able to get to the solution or no solution exists, then it is important that you gain perspective. Now – how gain perspective.
- Zoom out – look at the larger scheme of things:
Think of some other situation that you have faced earlier in life (may be dissimilar and unrelated), where you have felt that there is no way out or solution, remember how you felt then. Think of where you are now. Do you see that event affecting you even now at the same level of intensity? May be you found your solution or the impact of it faded over a period of time. This will give you confidence on your own resilience.
Think of some other situation, When you faced the problem, it seemed insurmountable and later you addressed it. Before addressing it, it would have seemed humongous. Now Looking back at it, it might seem silly for you that you thought it couldn’t be solved. Similarly thinking of a time say 20 years down the line, will it really matter in the whole scheme of things ?
- Change your personal frame of reference:
Each person might see, view and perceive an event in different ways. For example – Two cars were about to crash against each other but narrowly escaped. This event of escaping the accident made the first drive feel fearful of driving and made the other driver feel confident of their driving and decide to enjoy and appreciate life, albeit driving more carefully.
You see the world, events, and situations, interpret them based on your underlying beliefs and values. It is your interpretation of the event that impacts you. Yes the problem is real, but the level of impact on you is significantly based on how you interpret the problem.
- Try Positive reappraisal:
Think differently to identify something good that can come out of the situation. for eg – if you have failed in an exam, the positive that could come out of it is to learn to deal with failure effectively, you have learnt that the effort you put in wasn’t adequate or effective, its an opportunity to learn to do better … and so on.
You can also think about how worse it could have been and that it is not.
Engage in activities that help you do the above:
There are other activities that you can do to help you gain perspective and to learn coping adaptvely. Like travel – get away from the problem for some time, Seek solitude, preferably in nature for you to focus inwards and understand yourself better. Practice self love, Surround you with positive people whenever possible, learn or engage in something new and fun for yourself.
Remember – distracting yourself might be part of your strategy but, end of day you need to learn new adaptive coping mechanisms in short term and in long term you need to address the issue at hand as appropriate.
Should you continue to get significantly affected by your challenge, You can seek help from a professional counsellor or a Psychologist.