Problems vs. Solutions: yeah, but

See if this sounds familiar.

You’re confiding in a friend about a problem or dilemma you’re facing.

Maybe you’re…

  • Deciding whether to leave a soul-deadening job
  • Struggling to make movement part of your daily life
  • Exhausted from saying “yes” all the time
  • Putting off a much-needed crucial conversation with a colleague
  • Afraid to get back into the dating world

Your friend listens and then makes a few suggestions and offers some advice.

And your response?

Yeah, but… followed by all the reasons the advice won’t work for you.

Hear this loud and clear: Someone else’s solution is not necessarily your solution. Without a doubt, you’re the expert on you and your life, which means you have to land on your own answers.

So it’s not about taking advice and swallowing it whole.

But it is about being open to another perspective, a possible solution, a different way of doing things.

I often encounter Yeah, but… in coaching sessions.

A client outlines a situation she’s struggling with. It’s causing considerable distress and discomfort.

But when it comes time to move from telling the story of the problem to crafting the solution, there’s resistance.

I’m guilty of this too.

Not long ago I was telling a friend about my desire to quit sugar. She asked great questions about where I was stuck.

But when she volunteered what had worked for her cousin, I immediately found myself focused on dissimilarities—and why her suggestion wouldn’t work for me.

Whether we want to admit it, we’re often attached to the status quo of our problems.

But so long as we’re more attached to the story of our problem than moving toward a solution, we’re pretty much guaranteed to keep having what we have. Problems and all.

If you suffer from Yeah, but syndrome, here’s something I’ve found to be helpful. Give it a try next time someone offers you advice.

Instead of saying some version of Yeah, but…, practice saying this instead: That’s an interesting idea/piece of advice/suggestion. Let me talk through how that might apply to my situation/work for me.

And then do just that. You might just be surprised what new and uniquely-you solution comes to the surface.

Are you willing to let go of “Yeah, but…” and solve your problems?