A funny thing happens to your brain when there's a problem to solve, or a decision to make. The more you ponder the question, the narrower and more muddled the focus becomes. You're looking at the big picture at first but nothing productive happens. Before you know it, you're lost in the details and can't expand your focus, which leaves you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. The answers come eventually but at the strangest times.
We've all experienced the phenomenon; we struggle with ongoing attempts to force an answer or decision and nothing comes and we become overwhelmed with details. Suddenly, one morning you wake up with the answer. Or, you're jogging or in the shower and the light bulb suddenly turns on.
Why does this happen?
Your conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time, whereas the unconscious can process many things at once. When those overwhelming choices and thoughts enter the picture, your brain loses its ability to help you out. Even so, you're not left without the ability to get what you need and want, you simply have to let your subconscious mind do the work. This is a passive process, which isn't easy for creative entrepreneurs, especially when we're stuck. So, aside from inconveniently jumping in the shower or going for a jog, how do you get the answers you need?
Create psychological distance.
When you are emotionally close to an event it seems there is much at stake. By psychologically distancing yourself, you will feel calmer and the level of emotional involvement decreases. The mental grip on the situation will loosen, allowing the subconscious and conscious mind to do their jobs together.
Use this visualization to create psychological distance.
I created this very simple visualization to help my clients use psychological distancing to back away from their stress and problems. If you prefer to be guided through it, I've recorded a free guided visualization for you. It will leave you feeling calm and more detached, which allows you to process and problem-solve with greater ease. Open your mind to something different; you may be surprised by the results.
Find a quiet place and relax. You may sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a white room; it's empty and feels safe and warm.
- Take three deep, slow breaths, each time tensing all of your muscles as you breathe in and releasing the tension as you breathe out.
- On the right side of your white room, see your worries and problems as a collage of different colors. Each color representing one aspect of your stress.
- Now imagine a big bank vault with thick steel walls and a strong locking mechanism on the door.
- From your distant perspective see yourself opening the vault door.
- See yourself inviting all of the colors to move calmly into the vault.
- See the distant version of yourself step up and close and lock the door.
- Now, on the left side of the room imagine a calm light, the color of your choice, emanating from the ceiling. Imagine yourself walking over to the light, allowing it to absorb any remaining stress, leaving you with a calm, yet powerful, feeling. Spend as much time as you like feeling the effect of this relaxing experience.
- Repeat this statement to yourself as many times as needed until you feel calm:
- "These problems and all of the stress related to them are safely locked away in the vault. I can choose to remove one worry at a time, or not, but I no longer carry the burden of all of this stress."
- Once you feel a release from stress, slowly stretch and open your eyes.
Now you've created a safe distance between yourself and the complicated version of your decision or problem. This will allow you to see the big picture once again and calmly sift through your options to come to a decision. Give it a try and let me know how it feels. Remember, be open-minded--because this process works.