Problems Module

These are some of the target realizations we are aiming for:

- Problems and solutions are two sides of the same thing
- A problem is only a problem is one perceives it to be
- A problem is no longer a problem is one decides what to do

1. Definition -

Talk about what a problem is. The intention is to get "problem" reframed for the client in the direction of it being a two-sided structure, rather than just a foggy difficulty.

"What is a problem?"

2. Sizes of Problems -

Have the client make up problems of different sizes. What she actually means with that doesn't matter so much. We just need to encourage some differentiation between problems.

"Invent a big problem."
"Invent a small problem."

3. Similar Magnitude -

Ask the client to find or invent problems that are of similar magnitude as other problems. That illustrates how a problem has a precisely configured intensity and it encourages comparison between problems which will make them less stuck.

"Think of a problem"
"What would be problem of similar magnitude to that?"

4. Solutions to problems -

Talk about how specific problems the client has have been solved. We will use "solution" to mean something one has done about it, not a true completion. We hope to reframe that for the client. A problem with its solution just forms a fixed polarity. We would prefer if the client figures that out by herself. Whenever she gives a solution that is obviously just sweeping the problem under the rug, there is an opportunity of calling attention to that.

"Tell me a problem you have."
"How have you solved it."

Explore how problems can be solutions and how solutions can be problems. Notice how the same situation, depending on one's perception or on the passing of time, will change from problem to solution or from solution to problem. Get the client to think about that. Most likely she will realize that problems and solutions are just two sides of the same thing.

"Can you think of a problem that was a solution?"
"How about a solution that was a problem?"

"Think of a problem you had that became a solution"
"Can you recall a solution that became a problem for you"

"Can you think of a problem that is also a solution to something?"
"Can you think of a solution that is also a problem in itself?"

"How can a problem be a solution?"
"How can a solution be a problem?"

6. Problems or Not -

Talk about how people have problems with certain things, but not with others. Start introducing the idea of how problems are a choice, without directly saying that though. Just let the client notice where the problems appear and where they don't.

"What do people have problems with?"
"What do people not have problems with?"

7. Examine time of problems -

Ask for a time when the client particularly had problems. Work it over with any technique that appears appropriate. Look for fixed ideas, for unwanted reactions, missing parts, etc. Handle these. Overall, this emphasizes for the client that problems aren't something external, but that they are dependent on one's internal state.

"Think of a time when you had problems"
"What went on there?"

8. New problems -

Have the client make up "new" problems. This is to make her see how problems are invented and to give her more choice in the matter.

"Make a new problem"

"Invent a different problem"

Play with the concepts of what are big or small problems. Work towards an understanding that it is all a matter of what one thinks about it.

"Think of a big problem that seemed like a small problem"
"Think of a small problem that seemed like a big problem"

"Think of a problem you had that wasn't a problem to somebody else"
"Think of a problem somebody had that wasn't a problem for you"

10. Solutions as problems -

Explore how problems and solutions are two sides of the same thing. Like, a solution often becomes a problem in itself.

"Think of a solution"
"How could that be a problem?"

"Think of a problem"
"How could that be a solution?"

11. When and where not -

Have the client come up with problems she had and then notice how they wouldn't be problems in different other times and places. That brings home the point that a problem isn't always a problem. There is always a context in which it isn't really a problem.

"Think of a problem you had"
"When was that not a problem?"
"Where would that not be a problem?"

"Tell me a problem you had at some point"
"Is there a time when that would not be a problem?"
"Was it a problem before you got it?"
"Is it a problem now?"
"Is there a context or a physical location where that wouldn't be a problem?"
"Why wouldn't it be a problem there?"

12. Appear and disappear -

Approach the idea that problems might suddenly appear or disappear. That opens up to the ability to make problems disappear at will.

"Imagine a problem appearing"
"Imagine a problem disappearing"

Examine how exactly the client manages to have problems. We treat it as an ability. That is in itself a reframe.

"What have you had problems with?"
"How did you do it?"

14. Desirable problems -

Introduce the idea that problems might be desirable. That they don't have an inherent "bad" quality, but it all depends on what one thinks about them. Also that it sometimes might not be desirable not to have a problem, e.g. it might be boring to have nothing to solve.

"Think of some desirable problems"
"Think of some un-desirable no-problems"

15. Like to Have -

Ask for problems the person would like to have. Along the lines of "having Mel Gibson keep calling me, inviting me to lunch". Have fun with it.

"Tell me some problems you would like to have"

16. Not Problem -

Ask for situations that aren't problems and for people who don't have problems. This puts it into perspective that the world isn't just problems.

"What is not a problem?"
"Who doesn't have a problem?"

17. Problem Now -

Get the client to look at if she has any problems right this moment. Guide her into only answering in the present. If she gives an answer she remembers or supposes, put her attention back on her present time perceptions. If she perceives a problem as being there right now, have her describe in detail what the perceptions are that she perceives. Probably she will realize that a problem only exists in her present perceptions.

"Do you have a problem right now?"
"Is that here right this moment?"
"How do you perceive it to be here?"

Take up one or more problems that the client considers she has. For each one, get the precise perceptual distinctions that it consists of, or that are associated with it. Get how exactly it feels and where, get the precise phenomena that she sees or hears or feels that makes her interpret it as a problem.

"Give me a problem you currently have"
"How do you perceive it?"
(Focus on the internal perceptions, not the external situation she connects it with)
"Where in your body do you feel it?"
"Is it heavy or light, hot or cold, moving or standing still, solid or airy, etc."
(Get many details, get her to really get into it and feel what it is.)
"How do you know when to have that; what perceptions trigger it?"

19. Continuous problem handling -

Locate an area the client has continuous problems in that don't solve.

"What do you always have problems with?"
"Which area do you continuously have problems in?"
"What is unsolvable in your life?"

Get a general label for the area. It might be a subject like "Finding Work" or a person like "Joe". Work on it intensively as a problem, applying different specific techniques to it. Do that until it stops appearing as a problem in the person's actual physical life.

- Problems with a specific subject -

20. Bigger & smaller than -

Get the client to find problems of different sizes than the specified one. That gets her to put the problem in relation to other phenomena, which makes her more able to think with it

"Invent a problem bigger than ___."
"Invent a problem smaller than ___."

21. Tried to solve it -

Look at how the person has tried to solve or not solve problem. That puts attention that one has done something about it, but also that one might have something to do with making it not change.

"How have you tried to solve ___?"
"How have tried not to solve ___?"

31. Who had it -

Look at who else had that problem. It might bring to light that one is just copying somebody else's behavior, or it might bring to light new resources. If nothing else it will dissociate the problem a bit.

"Who has ___ been a problem for?"
"What have they done about it?"

32. Responsible for -

Get the client to look at the responsibilities of the problem. How much of it will she be responsible for, how much is somebody else responsible for, etc. We don't use responsibility as blame, but as the willingness to claim being cause. A problem is inherently a lack of taking responsibility.

"What part of ___ could you be responsible for?"
"What part of ___ could you make another responsible for?"
"What part of ___ are others responsible for?"
"What part of ___ could you make yourself responsible for?"

33. Comparable magnitude -

Choice is often lacking when one has a problem. We need to get the client to see that the problem is similar to other problems that she doesn't have, but could have. That brings in the idea that she can choose between them. Also it makes her able to think with the subject, because a lack of comparables hinder intelligence.

"Invent a problem of similar magnitude to ___."

34. Solution to -

A problem is often the "solution" to something else that is worse, but that the person has forgotten about. Asking about that will first of all change perspective. It is a different way of looking at it, that the problem might be a solution, so that will reframe it a bit, in the direction of more cause. But also we might actually find what it was a solution to, bring in resources in a different way and make the "solution" unnecessary.

"What is ___ a solution to?"

35. Why a problem -

People often take for granted that a certain situation constitutes "a problem". We won't buy it that easily, let's find out WHY it is a problem. What makes it a problem, what does the person consider problematic about it, what is the most important elements of that problem. This likely will bring up some fixed ideas, or at least some perceptual specifics.

"Why is ___ a problem?"

36. Two sides -

We can define a problem as being two opposing forces of equal magnitude holding each other suspended. In that vein we can examine what the two sides are. People have usually focused on the part in the middle, calling that a "problem". Looking at the forces involved and realizing there is a choice will tend to free things up.

"What is one side of the problem of ___?"
"What is the other side of the problem of ___?"

37. Unknown -

If everything were known about the situation, one could simply choose what one prefers and there would be no more problem. So, let's find out what is unknown.

"What is unknown about ___?"

38. Imagine having -

By imagining problems, one would tend to regain control of the automatic creation of them.

"Imagine having problems with ___."
"Imagine not having problems with ___."

39. Look at part -

By splitting a problem into parts and examining them, one attains more ability to choose about it.

"What part of ___ could you look at?"
"What part of ___ should somebody else look at?"
"What part of ___ might others look at?"
"What part of ___ should you make yourself look at?"

40. Think about -

Problems are in the way one thinks about a situation. By isolating the thinking part, that can become more apparent.

"What do you think about your problem with ___?"
"What do others think about your problem with ___?"

41. Appearing -

Simply asking the person repeatedly to examine the problem and report how it appears will tend to loosen it up. She might notice that it is changing.

"How does ___ appear to you now?"

42. Where is -

If one can distinguish oneself from the problem it becomes easier to do something about it. Problems are problems in part because they are invisible and not examined separately

"Where is ___?"
"Where are you?"

43. Problem caused -

Problems don't cause anything in themselves, in that they are only mental constructs. However, we often talk about them like that. By bringing that out in the open we might make it more clear who's really causing things.

"What problem has ___ caused you?"
"What problem have you caused ___?"
"What problem has ___ caused others?"
"What problem have you caused yourself because of ___?"

44. Problem is -

Two people who have an apparent problem between them probably have quite different perceptions of what it is. By seeing it from both sides and noticing that it isn't actually the same problem, that would tend to free it up.

"What is ___'s problem with you?"
"What is your problem with ___?"

45. Facing -

Problems appear because one shies away from facing what is actually going on. They are mechanisms of not dealing with the actual situation.

"What are you able to face about ___?"
"What would you rather not face about ___?"

46. Responsible for person -

Problems are also a mechanism of not taking responsibility for what is going on. By finding something one can take responsibility for one moves in the direction of resolving the problem/

"How are you responsible for ___?"
"How is ___ responsible for you?"

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