The 4 R’s for Solving Dilemmas
Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.
Do you have a dilemma, a persistent worry, a recurring aggravation, or a deep concern? As lawyers we are trained to apply logic and rigorous analysis to solve problems. Some issues, however, call for a different approach – one of creativity and inner guidance. Here’s a little formula, “The 4 R’s,” for finding a solution: Rest, Relax, Reflect and Receive.
Many of our problems arise out of the stress created by the very busy-ness of our lives. Studies have shown that the average person needs eight hours of sleep per night, but today many of us cheat our bodies of some of that needed rest. In his book, The Promise of Sleep, William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D. describes studies showing that if you are only getting 6 hours of sleep per night during the work week, by Friday night you have accumulated 10 hours of “sleep debt” that must be repaid. Dr. Dement says, “As your debt grows, your energy, mood and cognition will be undermined.” Dr. Dement warns that you cannot work off a large sleep debt by getting one good night’s sleep. No wonder you find yourself sleeping late on the weekend and then still wanting a nap in the afternoon.
Stop to rest when you are tired. Squeeze in a cat nap if possible. When we push through our fatigue, we are more likely to be irritable, short-tempered and inflexible. Our judgment is impaired. We create more problems for ourselves by our attitude, and fail to recognize alternative solutions that arise. There’s actually a sound reason for the age-old advice, “Sleep on it”!
Slow the whirring wheels in your mind. Nurture your soul. Give yourself the care and pampering you need to feel safe and spiritually alive. Do you need exercise to burn off adrenaline and to fatigue tense muscles into relaxing? Will a hot bath and soothing music help you let go? Perhaps you can take a walk outside and notice the birds singing. Feel gentle breezes wafting across your skin and through your hair, and let your eyes rest on tree branches swaying or white clouds floating.
Christiane Northrup, M.D., writes in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, “Our inner guidance comes to us through our feelings and body wisdom first—not through intellectual understanding. When we search for inner guidance with the intellect only—as though it existed outside of ourselves and our own deepest knowing—we get stuck in the search, and our inner guidance is effectively silenced.” Notice what feelings come up in your body. “You don’t need to know why your heart is racing or why you feel like crying. Understanding comes after you have allowed yourself to experience what you’re feeling,” writes Northrup.
It is reported that Thomas Edison used the rhythm of his rocking chair to free up his mind when he had a problem to solve. He held a rock in his hand that would drop into a pail with a clank if he fell asleep.
So listen to your body, relax your mind, and broaden your focus. Just let go.
Now that you have quieted the frantic drums in your head, allow thoughts to drift by aimlessly. Daydream a little without trying to control the subject. If your problem hasn’t already been solved by simply resting and relaxing, it will bubble up for you to look at it from the new perspective created by rest and relaxation. Don’t try to force a solution. Just ponder. Allow the problem to show itself to you from all sides. Observe it gently, slowly, with curiosity and interest, yet detachment from the outcome…as though you are watching a movie. If prayer is part of your life, pray for guidance. “No truth that we do not already know is going to be given to us from without, but the light presented on that truth from within our own Soul makes it applicable in our experience,” writes Joel S. Goldsmith in The Art of Meditation.
As you allow your problem or concern to show itself to you from different viewpoints, be open and receptive to receive whatever insights may come from the new perspective of rest, relaxation and reflection. As Penney Peirce, the author of The Intuitive Way admonishes, “a pessimistic attitude can kill the flow of information and energy.” Don’t dismiss the silly, crazy or impossible idea that flits across your mind, the oddball image that persists, the tune or song lyric that plays in your head, or the feeling that lodges somewhere in your body. Take a moment to consider the possibility that a message or truth is being revealed to you there. With reverence and respect, ask yourself “what if…?” or “how could I…?” as you consider the message. According to Albert Einstein, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.”
5. The 5th R
If the above formula doesn’t work immediately for you, don’t despair. Sometimes solving a dilemma is a process, and we have to allow time for the solution to soak in. So, as the shampoo labels used to say, “repeat if necessary.”
In moments of quiet, genius speaks.