Preparing for Your Journey: Understanding Solutions
Solutions that Don’t Solve Anything
When we talk about solutions in TPM, we are not referring to them in a positive light. They are actually the “remedies” that we have come up with to resolve what we perceive as a problem. Our solutions do not solve anything and actually create problems of their own.
For example, if I do not want to recall a memory because I believe it might overwhelm me, this is a problem that needs a “solution”? I may block out the memory by thinking about other things and then draw a blank. If I do not want to feel what I am feeling because I might lose control, this too is a problem. I may attempt to solve the problem by suppressing what I feel. If I believe that to let my anger go I will get hurt again, be out of control or the “bad” person will get by with what they did to me, then staying angry is my solution. All of our solutions that we hoped would “fix” something, actually has made matters worse.
Solutions are common and even expected to show up in most ministry sessions. You can be helpful during a ministry session as you come to recognize them yourself and reporting when they are engaged.
The SOLUTION Box
On the surface, it may appear that we are not controlling any of these things (emotions going away, no memory coming to mind, session stalling out, etc.), but in fact, we are. We are attempting to solve our perceived problem or predicament. If either you or the ministry facilitator identifies a solution in operation, there is a tool designed for dealing with this. This tool is made up of three questions located in the SOLUTION Box.
The SOLUTION Box Questions
The three questions that make up this tool each serve a specific purpose. The first one is designed to verify that a solution is indeed engaged. It is, “Do you sense any hesitation or resistance to _______ (doing the opposite of the solution behavior)?” For example, “Do you sense any resistance or hesitation to letting yourself feel what you were feeling?” Or, “…remembering any memory that is associated with what you are feeling?” Or, “…letting your anger go?” Answering “Yes” to the question is an acknowledgement of a solution in play.
Nothing to Do
When this question is asked, its intent is not to get you to do anything. You are not being asked to try to feel something, remember, or let go of anything. You are ONLY being asked to look for any hesitation or resistance to do something. For example, if you saw a poisonous spider crawling across the floor would you feel any hesitation or resistance at the thought of picking it up?” We are only looking for resistance and hesitation and no action to take.
The second question is designed to identify the perceived problem that you are trying to fix with your solution. “What do you believe may happen if you [start doing or stop doing whatever your solution behavior might be] that causes you to resist or hesitate?” For example, “What do you believe might happen if you were to let your anger go, allow yourself to feel what you are not wanting to feel, or to remember what you may not want to remember?”
The answer to this question will reveal the problem: “If I feel, I will be overwhelmed,” or, “If I remember what happened, it will ruin my current life,” or, “If I am not angry, then he will get away with what he did to me.”
The third question exposes the belief behind the solution. “So then, the reason for __________ (doing the solution behavior) is _______?” The answer to this question will be the belief: “Not feeling keeps me from being overwhelmed,” or, “Not remembering keeps my current life from falling apart,” or, “My anger holds him accountable.” When the belief behind the solution is exposed, we are ready to proceed to the BELIEF Box to establish a “base-line.” From there we will proceed on to and through the TRUTH and TRANSFORMATION Box.
Be Alert and On Guard
During your ministry session there will be times where the session will seem to slow down and even stall out. Sometimes memory will not come to mind, our emotions will seem to “go away.” Sometimes anger stirs up and keeps us from hearing from God, moving forward, feeling anything else. All of these and more, are solutions we have devised to “fix” our perceived problems. Be alert and on guard always watching for solutions to show up. Sometimes they are subtle and require careful watch. When they are exposed we need to move to the SOLUTION Box.