Problem Solving

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Problem Solving

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.

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?

Take care of yourself, take care of your problem

Your capacity for tackling problems increases when you are exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep. Taking a break from your problem will help you re-energize. Maybe a solution will come to you while you’re on a walk or work-out!

When nothing works

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 things without success, it may be time to focus on coping strategies.

Use your supports

Sometimes our problems really are too big for us to handle, and it’s important to recognize when we need to reach out to professionals who can help. Maybe a friend is considering suicide. Maybe you’re in a financial hole that you just can’t dig out of. In these cases, don’t delay.

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.

Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth