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What’s Your Plan?

“What’s your plan?” I ask with curiosity. My daughter looks down at me from the top of the jungle gym. 

It’s tempting to yell, “Stop!”

It’s tempting to say, “Here, let me get you down. Do it this way. Put your foot right there.”

But instead I am quiet. Waiting for her response, interested in what she has to say.

She tells me her plan. She climbs down the other side. The side only she could see from where she sat, perched at the top. She reaches the bottom with a huge grin.

The opportunity to think through a problem on our own activates areas in the brain associated with change. Yet, our temptation to fix people’s problems for them – rather than draw out their own ideas – is so hard to resist. So often we think of our role in relation to others (friends, children, patients) as the fixer. When we hear about a challenge, we confuse helping with problem-solving. We do this even though we know when someone is given space to think of their own solutions, they are more likely to follow through with their plan. 

There is freedom in recognizing you don’t have to come up with all the answers. So often, we don’t even have the best ones.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.