Problem Solving 101

Tom C Lacy cropped

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The three levels of a problem are the Presentation, Performance and Preconditioning. Knowing these predictable stages expedites problem solving. Remember, we will never be without problems yet we need never be without a solution.

Problems come from many sources that initially we process internally. We acknowledge them first by giving them thought then by giving them a name or assigning them to someone or something. As the thought germinates we state it verbally to someone. That someone could be the person we believe to be directly involved in the problem as we see it or someone selected to be a sounding board.

The presentation level overlaps the performance level. The performance level is literally what we think, say and do relative to what we believe the problem to be. Thought precedes action. Action is based on our determination as to what it will require on our part to resolve the problem. Actions can range from mild conversation to violent action.

Over forty years of various teaching/counseling ministries have shown me unresolved anger and unresolved resentment are primary elements in many problems. To illustrate the performance level I’ll describe the five levels of anger outlined by Dr. James M. Dobson: Mild irritation, Indignation, Wrath, Fury and Rage.

  1. Mild irritation can be prompted hearing a dripping faucet, elevated levels of noise or by bothersome lighting for instance. All are usually easily correctible. Mild irritation might come from annoying things others have done to us or act out in our presence – these also may be easily correctible.

  2. Indignation is reaction to something deemed unfair or unreasonable. This level of anger is often outwardly unexpressed. I likened indignation to a slow burn. I’ll illustrate indignation in the Preconditioning Level of a problem.

  3. Wrath never goes unexpressed. Wrath may be expressed through body language, verbally and/or by striking inanimate objects.

  4. Fury suggests violence and is usually acted out against another.

  5. Rage is the most intense level of anger. In a fit of rage, brutal acts are committed sometimes without conscious thought. I’ve observed many charged with acts of rage in twelve years of jail chaplaincy ministry.

All of the above have been proven to stem primarily from unresolved anger and unresolved resentments.

The Preconditioning Level of a problem is the root level of the problem. Root Level is not new terminology, but often Root Level is seen as the Performance Level of a problem. Depression is a classic illustration.

Barring mental illnesses, chemical imbalances and other medical contributors (I am not a medical doctor) depression is often the results of the problem not the problem itself. Problem-wise, it is best dealt with at the Performance Level. Medicating the results of a problem will never cure the problem.

In dealing in the realm of the Root Level consider this reasoning: What is on the inside of us makes the difference in what we hear. This prompts the following observation: It is funny how two people hear the same thing differently; funny-peculiar not funny has-ha. The reasoning is we process everything we hear through what is on the inside of us – literally what we know about what we are hearing or observing. Two people with different experiences and backgrounds will see things differently.

What one hears, sees, or feels, is greatly determined by unresolved anger or unresolved resentment through which it is processed. The Presentation Level affects the Performance Level. The Performance Level is affected by the Preconditioning Level. This tool must we considered, in the problem solving process, as one tool.

Understanding and applying this information will put us on track to more quickly resolving our problems. But, before we can apply new tools we need to remember where we started in this study: Up Until Now Every Thing We Have Done Has Not Worked.

As a reminder, this is not saying every thing have done has been wrong. No, it just hasn’t worked. I am a firm believer in that before we can do something different, ,eamomg better, we must stop doing things that do not work then start doing things that will work.

Next time:

Three Things People Do To Solve Their Problems That Do Not Work And Why They Do Not Work

Tom C Lacy croppedRev. Thomas (Tom) C. Lacy is Founder and Director, of New Hope Counseling Service and on the Board of Advisors of the Virginia Christian Alliance

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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