The Squishy Middle, also titled “Using your critical thinking skills to solve, or overcome, your problems”

My brain has pretty crowded the past couple of days.  Me, myself, and I are a pretty close threesome.  Me is lying the couch, while I am (using my best Freudian pose) talking to myself.

At this point, you may be staring blankly at your computer screen right now wondering if I am some kind of babbling idiot.  And I would in my best in-your-face know-it-all voice, “Yeah, so?”

Anyhow, it’s hard to write a coherent sentence in the midst of all that self-talk.  It ain’t pretty but somebody has to do it.  It’s my process.

Whether you know it or not, you also have a process when faced with problems.  Some of you might run and hide and stand in denial.  Some of you might blame, finger-point, and shout a lot.  Others, might take time to think through a problem and come up with a solution (if that’s you, you can stop here) (if that’s not you, read on).

This blog is about overcoming your problems.  This means you have to find a way to overcome.  I am here to help.  So, now to help you find the answers you seek, I am going to make up a phrase.  I will call it the “squishy middle” (a.k.a. employing critical thinking skills).  Why do I say the  middle is squishy?  Because using your critical thinking skills rarely looks like this:

Problem-solving made easy.

If it were this easy, you wouldn’t need me, or your favorite counselor, fish, dog, friend, or coffee-slinger.

The reason that problem-solving is squishy-in-the-middle is because the process  that comes between point A and point B is rarely easy.  Rather, the process in the middle of point A and point B  usually looks something like this:

Dangerous curve ahead.

Or this:

This is me on problem-solving.  Any questions?

Or this:

How many different ways can you go from A to B?

Or this:

Who says problem solving can’t be fun?

See?  All of these methods are messy, and, you know, squishy.  So, now, if you are still with me you might feel like this is just too much.  Well, I’m here to tell you that problem-solving, no matter how squishy-in-the-middle the  process is for  you, can be accomplished with a few easy-to-remember concepts that anyone can use regardless of style:

  1. Admit that there is a problem to overcome. (a.k.a. Point A)(This is a toughie)
  2. Decide on your goal (another toughie)
  3. Be honest with yourself about your part in this problem (yet, another tough one)
  4. Be honest about anyone else’s part on this problem (Be nice about it)(Ok, so they’re all tough)
  5. Decide on a plan of action
  6. Implement the plan (a.k.a. Point B)(this is the toughest part)

The process in between A and B is what counts.  That squishy middle is very, very important.  How  you get there doesn’t matter much, as long as you get there.  Problem-solving techniques are part of what makes each person unique.  What matters most is that you are able to overcome your problem. Period.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The squishy middle is what build character as you practice critical thinking skills.

I wanted to mention something that may occur during this process.  You may fail.  It happens.  If that happens you can either a) Take your ball and go home, sulk on the couch, eat some dirt, then go to bed, or b) try again.  And, don’t stick your fingers in your ears while singing the theme song of “Spongebob Squarepants”  as loudly and annoyingly as possible, and then keep doing the same thing over and over again (i.e. the “definition” of insanity).  That just leads to a poverty of spirit which will lead to being an emotional couch potato.

So, stick with it friend.  Try something different if the first thing didn’t work.  It’s really important that you do so.  I mean, really important.  Not so sure?  You’ll just have to trust me on that.

And the next time this problem comes around (and by God, it will), you will have the last problem-solving session to refer back to to help you overcome your problem even more quickly than before.  Because overcoming your problems is the whole point of this exercise.  Right?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++So tell me, what’s your squishy middle look like?

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One response to “The Squishy Middle, also titled “Using your critical thinking skills to solve, or overcome, your problems”

  1. Hey, your audience of one here…LOL yes the process of problem solving is definitely messy and very squishy….But always good. 🙂

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