Problem Solving

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Problems are a normal part of life. You can think of them as challenges—like a puzzle to be solved—or you can think of them as burdens that you are powerless to resolve.

Your willingness and ability to solve problems has a huge effect on the way you feel, and largely determines whether or not you become frustrated, despondent or depressed. Take time out to do something that you enjoy. Even though you might not feel like it, being active and eating well can help.

Having tools to help you make a decision can help you reach a successful outcome. If you’re finding that your feelings are affecting your day-to-day routine, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust. This could be someone like a friend, school or campus counselor, an elder or spiritual leader or family member.

Focus on solutions.
Working through a problem one step at a time can make you aware of lots of possible solutions.

Step 1: Define the problem
Step 2: Work out goals for each problem
Step 3: Brainstorm lots of possible solutions
Step 4: Rule out any obviously poor options
Step 5: Evaluate your remaining options
Step 6: Identify your best options
Step 7: Implement the best options
Step 8: How did it go?

What if you can’t fix the problem? Although problem solving usually helps us find solutions, in some situations, despite our best efforts, we still can’t fix the problem. If you’ve tried a number of strategies and none of them have worked, it may be time to focus on coping strategies. Check out the Developing coping strategies fact sheet for more info.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

Special Thanks: Rebekka Meyer, Project Director at FirstPic, Inc., has 13 years of program and administrative experience in youth development, education, and government programs. She has served Boys & Girls Clubs of America affiliates as an employee in Pine Ridge, SD and Lower Brule, SD, as a National Training Associate, and as a nationwide onsite training and technical assistance provider. Additionally, through a partnership with the National Congress of American Indians, she wrote and piloted the T.R.A.I.L. Diabetes Prevention program curriculum for Native American youth. Rebekka is an alumnus of AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. She holds Bachelors in Political Science from Truman State University in Missouri and a Masters in International Business from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

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