When you change the way you look at
things, the things you look at change
Ever wondered why circus elephants never try to escape from
the short piece of rope attached to the little pole which is
supposed to hold them?
The baby elephants are tied to a tight rope when their mothers
go out to work. It is very traumatic for the young animals to
be left alone and they remember the feelings of anguish
and hopelessness they have experienced while trying to free
themselves. So, even though the adult circus elephant can free
himself easily, he remembers how he felt and believes that he
can’t get away, and that is enough to stop him from trying.
Very often, our fears are the reason we struggle to overcome
the challenges we face. More often than not the fears may be
unconscious, and sometimes it is hard for us to understand why
we make choices that take us away from the goals we desire.
A good example is when someone wants to lose weight and is
successful initially, but regains the weight again and again. The
weight-loss in this case may be the trigger which sets off hidden
issues around losing weight, which in turn can cause feelings
of anxiety that could lead to self-sabotaging choices, causing
the weight to return.
Anxiety-causing issues can hamper us in many areas of our
life including personal and work related relationships, and can
prevent us from making the changes needed to overcome
difficult challenges successfully. This is because fear shuts
down the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in
learning and self-control, and holds us captive via the negative
feedback loop it creates.
Solutions Focused Brief Therapy was developed in the late
1970’s by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg to help clients
focus on the solutions of their challenges rather than the
problems. According to SFBT focusing on the problem will
amplify and enhance it. If, on the other hand you focus on
the solutions, you amplify and enhance the solution-seeking
abilities that works best for you.
When you ask yourself questions to explore the solutions of the
challenge at hand, you can break free from mental constraints
which may perpetuate the problem.
The following are examples of solution-focused questions:
• When does the problem not happen?
• How have you coped thus far?
• What strengths have you used to cope thus far?
• What has worked well in the past?
Solution-seeking questions lower the fear response associated
with change and helps you to grow new connections in the
pre-frontal cortex, setting you free to make new and liberating
choices to overcome the problem at hand.