Problem Solving Strategies: 7 Holistic Ways to Do It

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We all face obstacles and challenges in our lives. Sometimes it even feels as if we’re the only ones. But as the old adage goes, life doesn’t get easier—you just get better.

Of course, that’s only if you face your challenges rather than pretending they don’t exist.

How you handle your problems also makes all the difference. Acting upon instinct or impulse isn’t always the right way, even if it feels right at the moment. Feelings get hurt, issues go unchecked, relationships get damaged, and communication is hardly ever fluid.

Luckily, there’s a better way to go about approaching your problems. Whether the problem is with school, work, or your relationships, for solutions that work, you’ll want to take a holistic approach.

Read on to learn more about my 7 proven holistic problem solving strategies.

problem solving strategies

Problem Solving Strategies: Why Holistic

You’re probably wondering—what exactly does it mean to handle your problems holistically? Isn’t my natural reaction a holistic reaction?

 In short, no. The terms “natural” and holistic” aren’t the same thing. When we say a holistic approach, we’re talking about taking a look at the bigger picture, as in how your life will be affected in the long run by all its little moving parts.

Take holistic medicine for example. When you take a holistic approach to health, you’re taking into account the person as a whole—their physical, mental, and emotional health as well as the social factors that come into play. This is in place of looking at their singular health issue.

A holistic approach begins when you identify the obstacle before you and then take a step back to think about the situation as a whole. An example of holistic problem strategies will be not responding to others, especially in the moment which can be incredibly difficult, and could end up fracturing the problem creating more unnecessary issues.

That’s why solving your interpersonal problems by getting to the root cause of the conflict will not only provide a long-term solution, but it will allow all parties involved to gain a healing perspective.

 Read Also: 7 Steps to Achieve Any Goal: The Role of Three W’s in Goal Setting

Problem Solving Strategies: Go Holistic

Once again, a holistic approach does not equate to a natural approach. That’s why you won’t be able to just wake up one day, enlightened and able to find long-term solutions to your immediate problems.

Having a holistic problem solving strategy is the equivalent of having a skillset. It takes a little research and a little practice to master this type of approach. The good news is that it’s more than likely you’ve had a problem at some point in your life that you can apply this approach to for practice.

Of course, there’s nothing like practicing in the present. So, here are seven ways to approach your problems holistically, in every aspect of your life:

1. Practice Functional Fluidity

There’s more than one way of looking at a problem—or a solution. Just because something worked for you once before doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to work again.

The point of functional fluidity is to take into consideration the different perspectives at hand. Using your perspective and your perspective alone is the type of rigid thinking that leaves no room for compromise.

Here’s the thing: You might be right, the others involved might be right—or you could all be wrong. The point is, there’s always a better way to go about handling things because there’s always a better solution. Once you take that into consideration, your world opens up.

2. Focus on Accurate and Relevant Information

More often than not, we find ourselves in a rift with friends, siblings, significant others, co-workers, and so on. However, our interpersonal differences aren’t always what they seem.

For example, there may be some resentment between you and a co-worker because you’re pulling most of the weight on a task that was assigned to both of you, but they’re soaking up the credit. You’re mad because they’re not contributing as they should, and they’re mad because they don’t possess the same leadership skills as you.

The first thing you need to do in a situation such as this is to assess which parts of conflict you’re having are actually related to the issue. Then you need to figure out which parts are gaining negative traction due to something else entirely—i.e., your co-worker isn’t putting in the work because they feel inadequate or overly criticized.

Once you’re able to sift through any irrelevant or misleading information, you can get to the root of the issue that’s making you and your co-worker act a certain way towards each other.

3. Stop Making Assumptions

You know what they say about assumptions, which is why it’s important to not make assumptions.

It’s all too easy to jump to conclusions when dealing with a complicated or highly emotional situation, which actually prevents you from seeing obvious solutions to an issue. The best thing you can do when things get heated is to take a moment to examine and evaluate everything you think is true about the situation.

Then, take a moment to consider the fact that these things may not be true.

The other parties involved may not have the same information that you have, or they may have interpreted something you’ve said or done differently than you intended. The point is to not jump to any conclusions before you can proceed face to face to compare your information.

So, coolly and calmly, think about what it is you know and what it is you’d like to know, and then bring your questions and concerns to the table. Seek the opportunity to learn something rather than simply win.  

4. Find a Balance Between You Versus I

No one likes to hear that they’ve done wrong or face criticism about something that could have been done better. That’s why it comes so naturally to get defensive when we’re called out for being at fault for one thing or another.

Thanks to our natural defenses, placing blame almost never fixes the conflict. It only insults us and hurts us because we all want to feel accepted on some level.

That’s why it’s critical to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements to explain your position. It’s about staying neutral and making the other involved in the conflict understand you at the most basic human level.

So, when expressing yourself, stick to “I” statements. For example, “When I feel that no one is listening, it makes me worried that important details will be missed and I really want the task to be completed as efficiently as possible.”

In the end, it’s important to remember that the only thing you can control in any and all situations is you.

5. Adhere to the Nursing Principles

In the medical world, taking a holistic approach is quite specific. It includes very similar approaches to the aforementioned interpersonal conflicts, and they can be applied to all types of problems in life.

The nursing approach goes something like this:

  • There’s a body of knowledge
  • There’s evidence-based research
  • You have a sophisticated set of skills
  • There are always defined standards of practice
  • There are also usually diverse modalities taken from a broad range of practices
  • There’s a philosophy behind living and being

In other words, a nursing approach is a whole-behavior approach. The key to solving a problem may not seem obvious, but that’s only because the issue needs to be considered in a thoughtful manner regarding the person on the other end as a whole. So, you have to look at all the factors—not just the ones that are causing you grief or angst.

6. Listen Actively

There’s nothing less constructive than a one-sided argument. Remember, the conflict at hand isn’t just about you—you need to listen just as much as you speak.

Part of active listening, however, isn’t just about making eye contact. One thing you need to do is repeat back what the other person says to you. This is the key to make them feel as if they’re being heard, which creates empathy and appreciation, which will also be returned to you in kind.

It’s also an opportunity to give the other person the chance to think about what they want to say so they can speak from the heart and ease any misunderstandings. It’s an approach that takes a lot of patience, especially since active listening may not always be reciprocated—but it is a teaching moment at the very least.

7. Understand Your Needs Versus the Potential Outcomes

We, as humans, really like instant gratification. When we express ourselves in terms of someone else’s wrongdoings, we’re 50% vulnerable and 50% expecting them to fix things. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way we expect them to.

It’s important to take a moment to think about what it is you’re looking for in terms of a solution while also considering the potential outcomes—i.e., the other person having an adverse reaction.

Once you reflect on what it is you’re trying to learn and gain from a situation, you’ve already won, regardless of the outcome. Half the battle is mentally preparing yourself so you can manage your expectations appropriately and walk away from any problem understanding there’s only so much you can do.

Taking a holistic approach to the challenges in your life means changing the way you think and react, which can be incredibly difficult. Of course, nobody’s asking you to change overnight. As long as you keep the above holistic approaches in mind when an obstacle arises, you’re on the right track.  And to encourage you, I’ve got 20 inspirational quotes for you to stay motivated!

Now, I want to hear what the first three weeks in 2021 looks like for you – and how you’ll do things differently. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know when I post on the blog, follow Soulful Pursuit on Instagram and comment below I’d love to hear from you, just how holistic your problem solving strategies are!

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Hi! I'm Dr Jessica

I share my expertise as a Family Physician to provide you with the support and tools to a holistic lifestyle.

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