This material was copyrighted by Steve Mensing in 1991 in the Life Skills Self-Helpapedia.
The Multi-Solutions Generator (or MSG) is a series of questions aimed at helping us reach behavioral and emotional change goals as rapidly and as comfortably as possible. Based on Ericksonian and Solutions-Oriented approaches, the MSG is geared to create rapid solutions that hold up over time. These solutions will come from us and will evolve from a change in perspective or from a specific action or both.
In creating solutions, the MSG focuses on what is possible and alterable, rather than on the impossible and unalterable. Behavior is the primary target for change. During the solutions-generating process the MSG zeroes in on the problem-free times or the exceptions to our difficulties. Example: the time we are not acting addictively or being angry. Our attention is drawn to what specifically is different about these problem-free times and what can be done to produce more of the same.
To speed our solutions, we better choose goals and make them into clear, measurable, and specific outcome images. These goals will be concrete and observable. In making our goals clear, measurable, and specific, we make our goals achievable. We might ask: "What specifically do we want to change?"
MSG goals focus on:
What humanly can be done
The present & future
Concrete & observable behavior change
Allowances for our human fallibility
Changes in viewpoint & action which create desirable behavior
MSG utilizes our own individual styles of performance. The focus here is on solutions rather than problems. The MSG recognizes we possess all the abilities and strengths required to remake perspectives and to take solutions generating action. We take responsibility for our attitudes, behaviors, and feelings.
Present and future oriented, the MSG avoids talk of the past. Viewpoints, formed from a past perspective, tend to give strong life and power to present challenges. With the MSG, explanations and history are regarded as creations after the fact. Numerous explanations may fit the facts well and may hold equal truth, yet searching them out slows the solutions process and saddles it with excess baggage. Seemingly no one correct way of verbally constructing realities exists. The MSG avoids all beliefs not worthwhile to the desired change.
The MSG focuses on observable physical actions. If problems are mentioned, they are described in the past tense. Solutions are represented in the present and future.
The MSG demonstrates we do not need to know a difficulty's cause in order to find its solution. Insight is an unrequired factor in the change process. No theory or hypothesis in needed for challenge resolution.
People are different from moment to moment and from day to day. No one is a continuous label. No one acts the same way constantly. No one feels the same way all the time. The MSG will point out an individual's differing behaviors and feelings during the course of a day.
Flexible and open-ended, the MSG utilizes whatever a person brings to the question and answer session. This form of self-counseling evokes an individual's resources, solutions, strengths and brings them to attack the problem situation.
The MSG employs language that makes a future solution appear probable and realistic. This probability and realism makes the solution more likely to occur because the approach nurtures a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
In overcoming problems, the MSG either erases the problem completely or makes the problem appear manageable by reducing its strength and size. Frequently difficulties are undercut by demonstrating they only occur at certain times or in changeable situations. Often problematic behavior is relabeled, has its direction altered, or is linked to an extremely difficult task to create resistance to further performance.
Difficulties are generally found in:
Frequency of certain happenings
A situations labels and meanings
A sequence of actions
The direct or indirect involvement of certain people
Specific physical location
Factors in the environment (crime, economics, employment etc.)
The degree the problem is outside an individual's control
Focus of blame
Extremely negative predictions
Difficulties are often kept alive by either seeing no solution or believing the only alternative is another problem. The MSG avoids the trap of repeating ineffective solutions.
The MSG gets us to look at how reality might appear without a particular problem. Here small changes are seen to affect the larger picture.
The MSG focuses us on altering our behavior in problematic situations and in trading fixed negative labels for everyday positive descriptions. The main tools of the MSG are questions, clarifications, activity assignments, and relabeling. If you need to clean up emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations after employing the MSG, use any process.
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 1
Are you seeking a solution? These questions will assist you in rapidly formulating a clear direction for your solution. Jot down your answers so you can review them or clarify them further.
1. Why are you using the MSG?
2. Are there clues leading you to believe a challenge actually exists?
3. Is there something you desire more of? If so, specify what it is. A feeling? A behavior? Something tangible? Something you or another person is doing? Something happening in your environment? Something else?
4. Is there something you want to maintain? If so, specify what it is. A feeling? A behavior? Something tangible? From you? From someone else? From the environment? From a group?
5. Is there something you want less of? If so, specify what it is. A feeling? A behavior? Something tangible? From you? From someone else? From the environment? From a group?
6. After reviewing the 5 previous questions jot down what the problem was. Be clear and specific in jotting down the details to describe what the problem was. Example: Jim watches the Extreme Games each Sunday and ignores me.
7. What positive new label will you give this challenge? (Example a panic attack was relabeled and energy festival; a failure was relabeled a valuable learning experience)
8. What specifically took place during the (Your new label). Then what happened? And then what happened?
9. Who was present during the (New label)? What did each person say or do? Then what happened? And then what happened?
10. Where did the (new label) most frequently occur?
11. Was there a particular time of day, month, or year when the (new label) was most likely to happen?
12. How was this (new label) a challenge for you?
13. If a close friend, relative, or boss was present now, what would he or she say about the way you went about solving this (new label)?
14. You just snapped your fingers and blinked. Suddenly a change occurred and your (new label) was solved. How would you know the (new label) was solved? What would be different?
15. When you have a solution, what would you be doing? How would you feel? What would you be saying to others?
16. Right after you found a solution, what would life be like? What would you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? Taste?
17. Immediately after the solution arrives, what challenge would you overcome next? Or would you rather relax and take it easy for awhile?
18. Describe your (new label) free times.
19. What happens when you don't experience your (new label)?
20. What is different about the times you are getting what you want?
21. What are you and others, involved in the (new label) doing differently during the (new label) free times?
22. In describing the (new label) free times, on what do you focus?
23. In describing the (new label) free times, what do you ignore?
24. What is different about those times when the (new label) is manageable?
25. When do these (new label) free times happen?
26. Would you rather have a complete solution today, tomorrow, in a week, or in a few weeks?
27. (If the (new label) is not yet solved) Before the next session would you rather observe all the (new Label) free times and make a note of your observations or would you rather do something differently during the time when the (new label) most often occurs?
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 2
The following questions will continue the solutions process if it is still required. Write down your answers so you can review them and see how your solution is working. Feel free to process any feelings, beliefs, or physical sensations.
1. Frequently between the first session and this session the reader will notice something different. Generally the MSG sessions are spaced a few days apart to provide time for observation. What are you noticing about your situation?
2. If you noticed changes in your situation, would you desire those changes to continue happening?
3. When your (new label) is solved, what will be different? Who will be the first person to notice you have a solution?
4. When a person comments about the solution, what will you say?
5. Did your situation involve a piece of behavior? What would change that piece of behavior?
6. What was your new positive label for your situation? What might an outsider call your situation? Can you create a positive new label for the outsider's name for the challenge?
7. What will you call your situation 2 years after you've solved it?
8. Did your (new label)'s frequency of occurrence make it a challenge? How can you best increase or decrease the frequency?
9. Where did the (new label) happen? Could you change the (new label's) location? Where would the (new label) no longer be a challenge?
10. To what degree was the (new label) out of your control? Can you exercise more control over it? In what ways?
11. Who was involved in the situation? Were they involved directly or indirectly? Can you have them become more involved or less involved?
12. Was anyone blamed? Could you reassign the blame to someone else? To something else. Could you let go of blaming and just say it happened and leave it at that? Could there be many alternative causes? Could you create another explanation to fit the facts? How might someone else, away from the situation, find someone or something else to blame? Could you blame the entire universe?
13. Was there an environmental factor (economics, living arrangements, employment etc) that might have been involved in this situation? How can these environmental factors be altered? Are there ways to compensate for these environmental factors?
14. Is there a feeling or bodily state involved? Can you process this feeling or bodily state? Can you alter it in any other way?
15. If there is a feeling or bodily state, when does this feeling come and go? What happens when you ignore the feeling or bodily state and do what you want to do? (Example: Did you ever feel like not doing something, and go ahead and do it anyway? Like chores or school)
16. Was the past involved with your situation? If so, how? Can you relabel the past? Can you ignore the past and refocus on doing something differently?
17. Are there any negative predictions about the future? What were they? Are there other possibilities? What can you do to produce a solution?
18. Do you expect a perfect solution? Could you accept an imperfect solution? Could you accept more (new label) free days? In what ways can you enjoy an imperfect solution?
19. After your problem is solved, how might you sound to your closest friend?
20. When you have a solution, how will dinner taste to you?
21. (If your (new label) is not yet solved) Prior to the next session would you rather observe all the challenge-free times and note them or would you rather do something differently during the (new label) time?
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 3
The following questions will continue the solutions process if it is still required. Write down your answers so you can review them and see how the solution is working.
1. Often between the second and third sessions the reader will notice a change in their situation. What are you noticing about your situation?
2. If you spotted any changes in your situation, would you desire those changes to continue to happen?
3.After you recognize your solution, how will you dress? The instant you notice a solution, what will be your facial expression?
4. Can you change the time of day of your (new label)? If so, how?
5. Can you change the location of your (new label)? Can you make it external? Internal? Far away? If so, how?
6. Can you change the frequency of the (new label) occurring? If so, how?
7. Can you change the sequence of events around the problem? If so, how?
8. Can you interrupt or halt all or part of the event's sequence? If so, how?
9. Can you either jump from the sequence's start to the end or perhaps start the sequence in the middle?
10. Can you change the (new label)'s duration? If so, how?
11. Can you change any of the characteristics or traits of the problem by making them better or worse? If so, how so?
12. Can you perform the problem without the problem-pattern? If so, how?
13. Can you attach the probelm-pattern to an extremely difficult or undesirable task? If so, how?
14. Can you reverse the problem pattern? If so, how?
15. Can you break a large element of the problem pattern into smaller parts? If so, how?
16. Can you review questions 4 through 15? Would you rather perform one or two of the easiest tasks listed?
17. Would you rather observe challenge-free times on odd days or even days or on both kinds of days?
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 4
The following questions will continue the solutions process if it is still required. Write down your answers so you can review them and see how your solution is working.
1. Frequently between the third and fourth sessions the reader will notice changes. What are you noticing about your situation?
2. If you have observed any changes in your situation, would you desire those changes to continue happening?
3. When you notice your solution, would you smile or laugh or appear mildly shocked?
4. The instant you have a solution, will you want to tell someone about it?
5. When you have a solution, will you want to tell someone about it?
6.When you have a solution, might anyone notice it before you?
7. At this moment what works?
8. At this moment what has worked?
9. At this moment what might work?
10. Do the challenge-free times appear to happen without a pattern or reason? If so, can you describe the randomness of your problem-free times?
11. Can you give a step by step detail of the challenge as you recall it?
12. Can you spot the differences between any hypothetical solutions and the way the challenge appeared?
13. Since you started using the Multi-Solution Generator, have you considered how much more fun you are going to have when your solution grows clearer?
14. What is the difference between feeling something might happen and going ahead and doing what you want to do?
15. After you experience the solution, can you carry that learning experience over to another area of your life?
16.What might you do to speed up your solution?
17. Can you keep a record of what you are doing that's giving you what you want?
18. Can you observe the many positive things you are doing during the day and list them?
19. Which would you rather do? (a) Do a task which would alter your challenge's surroundings? or (b) Do a task that would surprise someone important to the problem (Don't tip them off about what you are going to do).
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 5
The following questions will continue the solutions process if it is still needed. Jot down your answers so you can review them and see how your solution is working.
1. Often between the fourth and fifth sessions the reader will notice changes. What are you noticing about your situation?
2. If you have observed any changes in your situation, would you want those changes to continue happening?
3. How did you get the desirable behaviors to happen? What did you do first?
4. When you solve your problem, where would you like to vacation?
5. The instant you have a solution, what sort of music would you like to hear or would you just want silence?
6. Has anyone noticed changes in your challenge? If so, who?
7. If you target was to get a behavior to stop, how did you do it?
8. What are your hobbies and interests? When your challenge is solved, will you have more time for your hobbies and interests?
9. Did you ever have the same challenge in the past? How did you solve it? What do you need to do to recreate the same solution?
10. What do you want to keep happening?
11. What do you do that gives you more confidence?
12. What good things were you and others involved in the challenge doing this week?
13. What had you better do to keep your desired changes going?
14. What plan do you have? What are the desired steps?
15. How much closer are you to your goal?
16. Is your goal clear? Can you make your solutions clearer? What would you do to make your solution clearer?
17. During the next few days would you rather observe the good things that are happening? Or would you rather do more things that work?
18. Would you rather have the solution occur within the next few hours, the next few days, or the next two weeks? Which would be most convenient?
19. How will you think and feel about your solution when you look back at it from the vantage point of a year from now? Three years?
Multi-Solutions Generator: Session 6
This final group of questions will further refine the solutions generating process if it is still required. Write down your answers so you can review them and see how your solution is working.
1. Frequently between the fifth and sixth sessions the reader will notice changes. What are you noticing about your situation?
2. How might processes be used to help you find a solution or create one? Are their emotions, beliefs, or physical sensations that may require processing?
3. If you observed changes in your situation, would you want those changes to continue to happen?
4. After your solution arrives, what positive things will you notice about your neighborhood? Your house or apartment?
5. After your solution begins to reveal itself, what parts of it will be easiest to accept?
6. When you look back at the problem and its solution 3 years from now, what were the easiest parts to change?
7. Will you daydream about your solution later today or will you dream about it tonight or later in the week in color?
8. It's possible you dreamed your solution many times during the last few evenings and forgot the solution when you woke up. Can you gradually recall parts of the dream solution or can you remember all of the dream solution? Perhaps tomorrow morning or the day afterwards or next week you will recall parts or all of the dream solution. You might want to jot down the solution or record it on tape.
9. Would you rather change the easiest parts or some other parts? How will you change those parts? Can you clearly describe the solution step by step?
10. Can you describe the challenge-free time, what do you focus on?
11.In describing the challenge-free time, what do you ignore?
12. (If behavior is involved) How would you change a part of the behavior to create a solution? What could you do differently?
13. Can you review your answers to the questions 4 through 15 in the second session? Are there any answers to the questions you would like to change? If so, what are your new responses?
14. Would you rather perform one or two of the easiest tasks listed in session 3? If you can do one or two of the tasks, can you do them slightly differently than when you first performed them?
15. If you got an overnight express envelope from an old wise person and the letter inside was marked: "Your Solution", what might the letter say?
16. What might you do to speed your solution?
17. At this instant what works?
18. At this instant what has worked?
19. At this instant what might work?
20. Can you keep a record of what you are doing to give you the results you desire?
21. Can you continue to observe the positive things you are doing during your waking hours and list them if you so desire?
22. After your solution, how will you look back on the steps you used to get it?
23. When you have a solution, how will you know you have it?
24. Right after you discover your solution, will you immediately start to solve a new challenge or will you play with the former challenge a while longer to admire your handiwork.
Take care, Steve