Getting a Grip

Answers present themselves when we observe and accept a difficult situation

Often, life will present dilemmas, problems that cannot be resolved with logic or numbers or any of the other concrete measures that you might usually turn to. In these situations, I find that answers usually present themselves when we can truly observe and accept the difficult situation instead of railing against it, or suppressing the problem. The key to resolving difficult situations is to ensure that you are not so caught up in the situation that you feel confused and powerless. To cut through the thicket of confusion, I recommend an approach based in mindfulness — witnessing rather than reacting.

So, when you find yourself ‘stuck’, try these four steps:

Stop: Stop thinking about the problem. Stop thinking of solutions. Don’t run away. No ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I could have done that’. Stop thinking about the circumstances that led to the situation. Look at the situation as an observer would.

Observe: See what is. Look at a situation — not to analyse but to understand, to witness, to observe. This is often the most difficult step of the SOAR (Stop, Observe, Accept, Repeat) technique and it is essential that you practice it. In this step, you become mindfully aware of the situation — you are able to see the situation without minimising it or blowing it out of proportion.

Accept: As the great Reinhold Neibuhr said, “Accept what you can change and what you cannot, and have the wisdom to know the difference.” Acceptance releases the mental and creative energies needed to resolve a problem.

Transform: This is the easy part. Transformation — either of yourself or of the situation, but often both. It will occur as a consequence of steps 1, 2 and 3. Once you calm your anxieties, once you are able to see without fear, you will find solutions to the problem.

So there you have it SOAR as necessary.

Written for Outlook Business – March 2012