December 2012 - Want to Solve a Problem?
Try Using Pencil & Paper
Back to Newsletter
Have you got a nagging problem you’d like to solve or something in your life that’s not working? Here’s a great little exercise or process you can do. As a Clinical Hypnotherapist I help my clients release and solve life issues. Here’s a powerful little tool to help you make a positive shift or for creative problem solving.
As the well known adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” tells us, images contain a lot of information. Whenever you have a picture in your mind that represents an experience much of that data is unconscious right brained data. You can put this unconscious imagery to good use for solving problems creatively and more…
Think about a problem you’re having difficulty solving. Now ask yourself, “What is this like?” or “If this problem was an image, what would it look like?” Simply become aware of your internal representation. It could be a symbol or metaphorical image. Now take a blank sheet of paper and split it into 3 vertical columns. Externalize the image in your head into the first column on the paper. Just a simple, rough drawing in pencil will do. Once you’ve done that give it a one word phrase such as ‘problem’ or ‘brick wall’ (OK that’s two words but you get the point.)
The next step is to look at your metaphor on the paper and notice what you could add into the image to evolve it. How could you open up possibilities and options? Could you change perspective? What about a birds eyes view? Do you need to “shed some light on it?” or would it be useful to pan back and see the bigger picture?
In the middle column on the sheet of paper you can do some quick sketches to play around with enhancing the metaphor. Doing so will engage your unconscious resources to become open to new possibilities. This is setting the direction for some kind of solution…
When you’ve got the creative juices flowing you can come up with your ‘ideal outcome’ in the third column. This should still contain the original ‘problem metaphor’ symbol but with enhancements heading towards the ‘ideal outcome.’ So for example let’s say your problem metaphor was a red brick wall. By playing around with the imagery you incorporated a blue sky with bright sunshine and fluffy clouds and on the horizon you could see a shining gold future with you jumping for joy! (Your ideal future.) Cracks and dust were now on the crumbling wall.
Doing this exercise is fun and opens up your creative problem solving capabilities. You can go further with this process by going into deep self-hypnosis or meditation and visualizing the three stages; Problem, Possibilities, Solution. This is actually a great technique invented by the late Jose Silva (The Silva Method) which he named ‘The Three Scenes Technique.’ Of course by being in deep trance or hypnosis, with the mind’s Alpha waves switched on, you increase your creative abilities hundreds of times!
Here’s a step by step example of how to use this process. This is a rough sketch below demonstrating a common ‘problem metaphor’ people have: “I feel like I’m hitting a brick wall.” (This guy happens to be on a bike just for fun!)
1. What is the problem like?
2. Look for new perspectives to open up possibilities.
3. What is the ideal outcome? (Or what would you like to have happen instead?)
Often when a person is stuck in their ‘problem metaphor’ such as ‘hitting a brick wall’ they have myopic vision and can’t see anything else. So first we get it down on paper. We then proceed with step 2 and get a new perspective: In this instance I panned back to see ‘the bigger picture.’ I could see ways around the left and right side of the wall. The next sketch had a big gap in the brick wall and then looking through we can see grass, sunshine and fluffy clouds…
And then moving on to step 3 we can simply visualize an ideal outcome. The brick wall is still there, but now we are free of the bike and enjoying celebrating with friends…
I’m certainly not suggesting you can solve major life issues with this process, but it can be a worthwhile little exercise that you can do in a few minutes to help solve problems and stimulate creative solutions. There’s something magical about doodling with paper and pencil don’t you think?
Source: Thanks to Colin G Smith, a licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP) and author of 'The NLP ToolBox
Back to Newsletter