Like a giant wave crashing over a surfer, life events can upend and disorient even strong and capable people. Fear can mix with grief resulting in panic and exhaustion. Principles used in solution-oriented consulting can help chart a path and establish hope in hard times. A key assumption in the solution-oriented consultation approach is that change is constant everywhere all the time. With time and constructive effort, even the most intractable problems will resolve. Remembering other ways your life has changed, and challenges you have overcome, can help with feelings of hopelessness or being trapped.
Decide where you want to go
When we are confronted with very difficult and painful situations we tend to become experts on what is wrong. We become focused on our pain or depression. We are acutely aware of how forgetful or disorganized we have become. Turning our complaints over like coins to expose the preferred alternatives is a surprisingly helpful step in guiding change in the preferred direction. If you have been having trouble sleeping, a goal might be to enjoy more uninterrupted sleep and to feel more refreshed. If you are feeling hopeless and helpless, a goal might be to notice a few moments of tranquility and capability. If you have stacks of unopened mail and unpaid bills, a goal might be a smaller stack and to be caught up on the bills. Defining useful and achievable goals is a good start. It takes resources and abilities to achieve your goals.
Realize your capabilities
You have talents and resources that can help you successfully achieve your goals. You have previously had to overcome some challenges in life, and you have achieved some accomplishments. Look for situations in your past that you have had to pull together resources to move beyond. How did you get from point A to point B? What personal skills and abilities did you muster up to reach that success? Reflecting on stories of capability and strength can be a welcome antidote to feeling incapacitated. Now that you have well-defined goals and useful resources, you can match some of your resources to your goals and begin to take action to move forward.
Utilize the power of imagination
What if tonight, while you were sleeping, a miracle happened? When you first awaken, what subtle things might you notice that would indicate this change has occurred? Would the tightness in the pit of your stomach be relaxed? Would have some interest in breakfast or reading the paper? Would you turn on some music? Just take a minute and imagine this for yourself and discover how you would know this miracle had occurred. Exercises such as this can help you realize what signs to look for in your life which will indicate you are making steps forward.
There is much more to the application of solution-focused consultation to help people resolve difficulties and successfully navigate overwhelming life transitions, so they are restored to their fully functioning selves – often even better than before. If you have found this introduction interesting or useful, I am glad and hope you will join me for more on this topic.
Tom Chancellor is a Certified Financial Planner Professional helping clients enhance their financial peace of mind. Tom spent 20 years as a marriage and family therapist and now incorporates resources from psychology, communications, and relationship studies in financial planning for people who experience life-changing events. Tom helps his clients and other financial professionals respond to life transitions such as divorce, death of a spouse, retirement, receipt of an inheritance and legal settlements. Contact Tom with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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