When you have a problem that’s bothering you, do you let your thinking get in the way of finding a solution?I was looking at a post in a Facebook group recently and someone asked a question about a decision she was trying to make. The poster’s husband was going on a trip to a faraway land and he had asked her to go with him. As someone who has been dealing with anxiety for a long time, she wasn’t sure if she should go. The idea of the flight was anxiety-inducing, not to mention the smells, sounds, and chaos of the country they’d be visiting.
She’d been mulling over whether to go or not for some time. Some moments her mind thought it was a good idea; it would stretch her out of her comfort zone, she’d be able to practice traveling with less anxiety. She had been learning about the inside out understanding and knew that her experiences, including anxiety, did not come from circumstances or experiences outside herself. She was also learning that every thought (and resultant feeling) is temporary and that she didn’t need to latch onto them. So maybe it would be a good idea to go on this trip. After all, she’d love to have the adventure with her spouse.
At other moments her mind thought the trip was a terrible idea. She was still dealing with anxiety about driving on highways; a multiple hour flight could potentially make her very uncomfortable. Travel is filled with uncertainty, and this also was anxiety producing for her. What if she had a panic attack on the flight? What if she spoiled her husband’s experience by being nervous about everything he wanted to do?
After grappling with this for a while, her mind going back and forth between how the trip was a good idea and how it contained certain doom, she asked the group for their thoughts on whether she should go or not.
When I saw her question I thought, “She’s adding more salt to an already salted stew.”
Here’s what I mean by that.
Adding more thinking to a problem doesn’t solve it.
Just like adding more salt to an already salted dish doesn’t make it taste better. But it’s such an easy trap for all of us to fall into.
We all have problem-solving brains, and one mistake we innocently make so often is over using our thinking to solve problems. Adding more thinking to a problem you’ve already thought about from every angle is not going to help fix it.
This is where the salted dish metaphor comes in. If you’ve got a dish that you’ve already salted enough (maybe a little too much) adding more salt isn’t going to bring the flavors of that dish into balance.
If you’ve got a problem you’ve already thought about until your head is spinning, adding more thinking isn’t going to solve that problem.
So how do we solve problems?
What if you had access to a completely reliable source where you could always ask your questions and find answers?
Actually, you do have that source.
At any moment, you have access to the wisdom that flows through everything, the intelligence behind life. Access that your mind tries to convince you it has, but usually it’s just trying to sound smart.
The next time you’ve got a dilemma, like the one about travel in the example above, try this: set the problem aside.
The wisdom that you have access to doesn’t come via your stirred up thinking about all the pros and cons and potential benefits or drawbacks.
You’ll know you’re overthinking a problem when your answer or choice doesn’t come with a feeling of peace and you change your mind several times, never feeling like you’ve landed on the right answer.
Wisdom comes with that feeling of ‘I just know’.
We’ve all had that experience where we ‘just knew’ deep in our gut about a choice we needed to make or the solution to a problem. We’ve all had those moments in the shower when suddenly things seem clear.
Yet we often innocently persist layering thoughts upon thoughts to try to come up with a solution. And then, sometimes we ask for others’ opinions, as in the travel example above, and this only adds more confusion to the mix. More salt to the already over-salted stew.
Try this the next time you’ve got a choice between A and B, or a problem you don’t know the answer to. Let it go. Your mind might continue to chew on it, and that’s perfectly fine. That’s what minds do. Let it rattle on, like coins in a dryer, knowing that when you know what to do, you’ll know. And if you don’t know what to do yet, don’t do anything.
Your access to wisdom is always there, 100% of the time. Your thinking will simply try to convince you otherwise.Have you had the experience of recognizing the solution to a problem in a moment where your mind is calm or distracted? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.