Sunday, May 02, 2010

Problem Solving vs. Crisis Abatement

There are multiple approaches to problem-solving. I like solving problems, but my patience for it is in inverse proportion to the messiness of the problem. I like to find a solution that relates directly to the problem, and whose solution is ordered, sequential, and foolproof. I doubt that there is ever such an instance in interpersonal affairs. Perhaps that represents a significant portion of the reason that I have a tendency to abandon human problem solving techniques once the crisis is past and my emotions have settled.

I have learned that like minds, when coupled, have an extraordinary ability to extend the workability of reason in human problem solving; but I was resistant to the idea that it could work when only one of those involved in the problem participated in the technique. Then it was pointed out to me that problem solving that is only aimed at crisis management does nothing to prevent future problems. It is therefore preferable to take steps to prevent future crises.

Not every human problem seems to have a rational basis. Some things seem to be purely emotional. But even emotion has a pattern that can be discovered, if observed calmly. It has cause and effect. Therefore it can be reasoned and problem solved on a rational basis.

At first, solving a problem that involves two people seems like it should necessitate the active involvement of both parties in rational problem solving, but I've discovered a major flaw in that supposition. It supposes that both parties experience the problem identically and contribute to it identically and equally. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Both my contribution to the problem and my experience of it are likely to be vastly different from his. It would be useful to precisely identify and understand the inner workings of his perception and experience, but it is not entirely necessary. I can use what I do know of what he feels to alter my reactions in a way that gives him the perception of improvement.

This is who I love. Now how can I do it better?

I need to speak his love language to him. It is the medium he understands. It is what he uses to make me feel loved. It is what will give him the experience of feeling loved. Using methods that I understand to show my love to him will make me feel more satisfied that I love him, but it will not address his feelings. A dear friend likes to say "right feelings follow right actions". It's a phrase that I was never particularly fond of, but today I find myself rethinking its meaning. It makes sense that if I behave in a loving way it will result in experiencing a loving feeling.

What does he do to show me that he loves me? These are the things that will make him feel loved if I return the action. I should show my love with a gift that has value to him rather than one that has value to me.