I promised you more on problems. Here’s some amazing, novel ways of dealing with problems, from my good friend in the UK, Susan Flood.
Susan’s technique is to use small objects to demonstrate or represent the solid realities of a mental concept being worked with. We talk here of the “substance”, the solidity or actuality, and the “meaning” or thought behind it [this comes from Alfred Korzybski and what he called “extentional” and “intentional” meanings].
Thus a car is substance, so is a block of wood representing a car, but the IDEA of a car and the freedom concept it holds for most of us would be the meaning. But we can depict abstract words in the same way: “honesty, “sexual attraction” and “can’t communicate” can all work, once you get the hang of this.
By depicting events and people in this way – and how we react to them – laid out on a table top, we can gain immeasurably greater insights into the mechanics of our problems and so help them vanish.
Any collection of objects will do for this. We can use elastic bands, paper clips, bottle tops, sugar lumps and so forth. I call this a “show-me!” kit.
This is my kit, the one I use at home. I’ve had it for donkey’s years:
A woman’s handbag, incidentally, makes a wonderful portable show-me kit. It usually contains lipstick, nail file, comb, eye-brow pencil, brushes and the like, all of which can be pressed into service to represent “husband”, “boyfriend”, “the boss”, a hobby, time frame, how we FEEL about the boss and so on.
Break Problems Down Into Simpler Forms
Each part of life’s situation or aspect of the problem that is being worked on is laid out separately. So, for example, it is not sufficient merely to lay down a comb and say “That’s the problem”. What parts does the problem have? Who are the people involved? What is UNKNOWN about this situation? What communication is missing? and so on. Set all these out, using a different mass for each significance.
Susan points out that a romantic relationship may have as many as six different games running in it. These need to be teased apart and viewed separately.
You will find that merely examining the problem in detail is therapeutic. Often, the real difficulty surfaces quite early and resolves rapidly. Generally, of course, the individual will have to work at this for some hours or days.
Guiding and Counselling
If you are doing this with someone as a counsellor, you may need to prompt a little and keep the client focused on what matters, especially in regard to the next section. Mostly we leave the person to work it out.
It’s best to avoid trying to give your idea of what the solution might be, no matter how tempting to do so. It is having the individual LOOK at the problem which produces the beneficial effect. That’s why putting down the “stuff” in solid form is so effective. Then it can’t remain hidden and in denial (single biggest reason for stuck problems).
It is interesting that later on the person remembers most vividly what the resolution was, in terms of the show-me kit objects. The meaning is remembered as the substance. It’s a sort of aide memoire. The client might even begin to think “This is a lipstick situation again!”
For those of you who found it interesting this far, you can download a PDF, with examples, and learn more here:
[Note: this PDF comes from a new, developing project of resources called The Renegade Guru].