How to Stop Spiraling & Start Solving Your Problems

Hello, my name is Amita and I am a worrier. A compound worrier to be exact. The kind of worrier who spirals and over thinks myself into a fat, messy, what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life type haze. I worry about small things, I worry about big things, but mostly I worry about things that are beyond my control. This catastrophic thinking is my brain’s way of ensuring that nothing takes me by surprise. While this may have been an advantage back in the day when we were running from saber-tooth tigers, nowadays worrying creates more problems than it actually solves.

When people say “don’t worry,” I want to smack them across their smug little faces. How about being a bit more helpful? Instead of telling me what not to do, why not give me a solution, or, at the very least, an alternative coping mechanism that doesn’t involve eating Trader Joe’s brand chocolate and watching Netflix.

There are plenty of techniques to minimize worrying, but the heart of the problem is that we have problems we need to solve. And while I meditate and wait to receive guidance, I also get out my notebook and tackle things head on. So let’s get to problem solving, shall we?

How to Solve A Problem:

Problems are best worked on one at a time. Not only can you see more clearly, but you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.

  • List out your problems. This seems so obvious, but doing it identifies which are the key areas of your life that need to be addressed without making everything into one big clusterfuck.
  • Choose a problem. Pick an easy, practical, and/or urgent problem to start. Once you master the process, you can apply this to other issues.
  • Clarify the problem.
    -Describe it.
    -Why is this a problem for you? How does it impact you directly?
    -When do you notice it?
    -Who is involved?
    -What have you done to solve it in the past? How do you deal with it when it comes up?
    -What parts of the problem do you have control over? What do you not have control over?
  • Brainstorm solutions. Don’t judge any answers. Don’t edit yourself, thinking “this isn’t feasible.” You want your list to be as long as possible to increase the chance of coming up with a creative solution. Ask non-judgmental loved ones to join in after you complete an initial list.
  • Narrow it down. Right off the bat, eliminate ideas that seem unrealistic based on whether they are:
    -Too demanding (more time and money than you’re willing to spend)
    -Too reliant on others (the best solutions are those that foster self-trust and self-reliance. It’s always great to ask for help, but eliminate any solutions that take you out of the driver’s seat)
    -Too harmful (A solution that causes harm creates more problems. Nothing that involves a hitman. Duh.)
  • Categorize your solutions. Do all your solutions fall into distinct groups? (Ex. have a difficult conversation, look for another job, go back to school). List all the solution categories.
  • Choose a solution category. Whether it’s by process of elimination or by gut instinct, do one of these categories call out to you? Once identified, choose a specific solution within the category.
  • Evaluate the solution. Worriers, rejoice! It’s your time to shine! Weigh out the pros and cons of this specific solution. Be sure to consider:
    -How feasible is this solution?
    -How does it affect me physically and emotionally?
    -Does it align with my values, goals, and commitments?
    -How much time and effort will it require?
    -What are the benefits?
  • Decide on a solution. Still worried it’s not the right choice? Movement in any direction is better than being stuck. You can always reevaluate and change course at a later time.
  • Create & execute a plan. Get a coach, friend, or accountability buddy to help you develop and carry out an action plan.
  • Being “mentally prepared” by worrying doesn’t prepare us for shit. Use these 10 steps to stop spiraling and start solving your problems today!