When we are struggling to solve a tangible problem, it is usually because we are standing too close to it, are constantly running into the same obstacles that stand in the way of a solution, or think we first have to create a ladder from scratch (grow a tree, cut the tree, cut the wood pieces, etc. or get a degree, fix my life, solve world peace).
Interestingly, tricky problems are never solved by running straight at the solution that should fix the problem. Master solution provider Google tests its applicants for non-linear thinking skills. You can’t really solve the problems they ask in interviews by applying analytical thinking, but you might be able to come up with something if you go sideways, backwards, or stand on your head - anything but going straight.
Our brain resists that notion of abandoning the solution that should apply. It just wants to get through or over the obstacle, and we put up so much energy, time, and money to make that happen. We can save all of that expenditure, if we just consider that there might be other, non-obvious solutions; solutions that we have previously discarded, solutions that don’t fit our picture of how things should be, solutions that come out of the blue!
When struggling with a problem, stop running at it! Instead, sit down and take a look around, let your mind wander, let your surroundings inspire you and listen to what the world around you tells you. Inspiration might come to your rescue.
Funnily, when it comes to difficult emotions, heading right through them is the easiest solution. Yet, here, we do all we can to avoid them, even if it means major detours or constantly feeling the dread of having the unresolved emotions gloom over us.
More on this in “Running away from Emotions”.