Sometimes when things are going badly for us, our thinking can become distorted and we think that things will never improve. Sometimes we believe that things are always going badly in our lives.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” “I can’t win for losing,” or “I’m always going through something.” You just feel overwhelmed by your situation and it is easy to get a bit stuck there in the problem.
The truth, however, is that nothing stays the same all the time.
Despite what you may think or how it may feel, you are not always in whatever your situation is in the exact same way all day, every day. Aspects of our situations are always changing, even though we don’t always take notice of the changes that occur. Today, I want to invite you to take notice.
Reflect on whatever you feel is happening in your life that you would like to be different, or on some negative feeling state that you might be experiencing that you would like to change.
Think about how you have spoken about these problems to yourself and to others. Has going on and on about the problems helped to resolve them? If the answer is no, then it might be helpful to consider how this is the case. Sometimes focusing too much on what’s wrong distracts our attention from what’s right, OK or good.
In solution-focused therapy, developed by Steve de Shazer and his colleagues, there is a concept known as exceptions. Identifying exceptions essentially involves finding out those times when the problem is not a problem or is less of a problem in people’s lives.
For example, no one loses his/her temper every single time he/she is angry, is late by the same number of minutes each day, grieves to the same degree every day following a loss, mismanages the finances each month, or drinks/does drugs every waking moment, etc.
Taking notice of those moments, gaps or spaces in time when the problem is not happening is a huge part of what the theorists of this model believe is necessary to bring about a resolution to problems. This is why I began by inviting you to reflect on whatever your concern is and to begin to think about the gaps and spaces in time where it is not a concern.
The next step is to become like an investigator and dig around in those times and notice what is different.
Were you or someone else doing something differently? Was something different about your routine and/or habits? There are a number of questions you could ask yourself in search of what was happening when the problem you are dealing with was not a problem.
Once you’ve gathered some information about those exceptions, you are poised to do more of what has worked to bring about a resolution.
Today you can “be encouraged” that troubles don’t last always and be empowered to notice when they are gone so that you can know what is possible for your life.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at email@example.com.