As an avid puzzle enthusiast, I love developing strategies for doing jigsaw puzzles, sudokus, crosswords and Red Herrings.
Strategies are rules devised from similar, past events and applied to new situations. They help give structure to amorphous data. They say, “Start here. Then do this next.”
But strategies aren’t just for games. They’re equally useful for handling personal challenges you face. That’s because the same situations crop up repeatedly over the course of time. For instance, you may argue with your teenage daughter about keeping her room clean. You feel neglected because your husband spends more time checking his email than talking to you. You get uncomfortable when your father-in-law makes demeaning statements to his wife at family gatherings.
Not only do these scenarios replay themselves over and over, but your responses are predictable, as well. It’s as if you are a participant in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Nothing ever changes or gets resolved. You feel stuck and defeated.
To make matters worse, you’re perpetually angry with your fellow co-stars. You sincerely believe that if they stopped misbehaving, your problems would disappear.
The root of your angst isn’t the challenging scenario. There will always be rough patches in your life. Rather it’s your unwillingness to divest yourself from old patterns, to step back and consider something new.
How to develop a new strategy
- Name the problem. Honestly identify the issue in a concise and accurate way. For example, “I feel guilty whenever my adult daughter starts drinking again.”