At one time or another most of us have experienced feeling somehow stuck by a problem and uncertain of what to do.
This can be very frustrating and unsettling. Here’s a brain-smart solution. The challenge you face in such a situation is this: How can you move forward when you feel unclear about what to do in the face of the problem? Admittedly, such a lack of clarity can make it hard to find a solution.
Then stress adds fuel to the fire, because it is the exact opposite brain state required to find a solution to your problem. So you find yourself on a seesaw – stressed and feeling stuck – but still knowing you need to DO something.
Your Brain When Challenged
You have bumped up against your brain struggling to deal with an overload from trying to deal with a problem. When life is easy our brains function so smoothly we rarely pay attention to what is happening inside our skull. We primarily operate on an unconscious level as our brain automatically directs our thoughts and actions 95 percent of the time.
Introduce a complex problem with no clear solution and it is natural to begin to feel anxious. Our brain whirls around trying to choose from the possible answers to the problem. But suddenly your mental screen just goes blank and you feel utterly and totally confused.
Working Memory Overload
What just happened? You overloaded a function of your brain called the “working memory.” Your working memory is a temporary workspace that lets you hold your possible solutions to your problem in mind while you analyze one at a time.
However your working memory has limited storage, and is prone to overload if you are stressed or anxious. In such a situation it can go blank – just like overloading a fuse in your home electrical system.
The Solution to Overcoming Challenges
So what can you do if you feel stressed, confused and uncertain when facing a problem? The only way out of a mind freeze is to choose from among your possible solutions and take action.
Emotion and thinking are closely tied together. Your emotions tell you how important something is to you. They are tied to motivation, since they actually pave the way for our actions.
So getting clear requires cutting through your emotions and putting some clearly focused attention on the problem at hand. Start with an analytical definition of exactly what the problem is.
Balance your choices using focused attention and truthful analysis of the challenge you face. The brain naturally focuses on one thing at a time – avoid the confusion of multi-tasking from one solution to the other in an endless circle. Really dig into each possible solution one at a time. Write down your possible solutions and note the pros and cons of each.
Finally weigh the pros and cons of the possible solutions to your challenge and identify what seems to be the most promising solution.
The challenge you might face is: How can I take action without knowing for sure this is the best solution? This may involve just taking a small step in what seems to be the best direction, whether or not you feel certain your solution is the right choice.
There is great power in action. Movement in any direction will break your mind free from the cement of indecision. Your action will provide new information and experiences related to your problem. And since life is so totally unpredictable, who knows how your situation will change once you get into motion.
Even if you move on the wrong solution, at least you will break free of the painful, mind-numbing cement of indecision and come to more clarity!
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