A dragonfly trapped himself in the porch the other day. You know how that goes, don’t you? For a long time, he beat his head and wings against the closed window, while the open door stood beckoning barely six inches away.
Had the dragonfly chosen to back up a little bit, it would have been easy for him to see that he had options. He didn’t have to continue to bang his head against the wall (or the window, in this case.)
Does that situation sound at all familiar to you?
It can be very difficult to see the options that are available to us. However, to an observer—someone whose face isn’t buried in the current problem—options may be perfectly obvious.
The only snag is that we don’t always have access to a wise observer who is brimming with sage advice that they are prepared to share! In the absence of that wise observer, can one help oneself? There are literally thousands of self-help books that would indicate, “Yes.”
So if you have a challenge and want to get a better view of your options, what could you try? Let’s play pretend…
Try imagining your situation as if the central player was not you, but someone else. You could try picturing a friend, a relative, or even a stranger in your situation, whichever works most effectively for you.
Now, imagine yourself in the position of a counselor, coach, or helper. If your friend came to you with the challenge that you are facing, what would you suggest? What have you already experienced as being effective or ineffective in this type of situation? Consider all the options and possibilities that you can picture being available to a person in this situation.
Why might this “pretend” approach be effective? When we think about our own problems or challenges, we can be very quick to leap to objections when a potential option comes to mind. For example, “I can’t do that because I’m too old.” “I can’t do that because I have too many responsibilities.” “I can’t do that because….”
There are always objections possible, and while those objections may be perfectly valid, they have a further effect of shutting down creative thinking. You can get in a mode of seeing only objections and end up closing the door to all possibilities before you’ve even considered them.
However, when you imagine options for someone else, your personal objections aren’t so likely to be at the top of your mind. There’s a chance for the option to stand on its own merit, so you can consider it for a while rather than immediately dismissing it.
If you can see that there is a good option for someone else with your particular challenge, then with further thought, you may be able to find a way for that option to be available to you!
Coming up with options by imagining that you are someone else might strike you as being a rather unsophisticated trick. But is it effective? Why not give it a try?
By the way, of course, I rescued the dragonfly.