Do you ever find yourself stuck in an infinite thinking-loop? There is a way to break the loop, to put your problem on hold and to let your mind find a detour to solve the problem.
What should I write about next? I want to write. I feel an urge to. But this question just keep spinning in my mind and the more I’m thinking about it, the less apparent the answer is…
We are always thinking about something. Most of us are in any case. Most of the time we are not only thinking about something – we are thinking about something very concrete. It may be a task we need to do, a problem that keeps bothering us, a challenge we still don’t know how to face, or some abstract thing like “the future.” Our mind is at high RPM most of the time.
There are times when this mode becomes even more radical – when we go into an infinite thinking-loop. These are the times when one specific thing occupies our brain at 100% capacity and just won’t leave. If the outcome of these events would have been being super productive, you could argue that this a good thing. But the problem is that this is rarely the case. When we are caught in an infinite thinking-look we are anything but productive. In most cases, such a loop just pulls us down. It’s a pure waste of mental energy. The chances that a creative solution to a challenge we are facing will just pop in our mind when we are in a thought-swirl are super-low. And let’s face it, it is also kind of depressing.
Think of a fan in a closed room. It spins around, moving the air from one spot to another. It creates some artificial wind. It seems like things are flowing. But without opening a window for some fresh air, the room just becomes dense and less comfortable. How long can you stay in such a space?
Luckily, there is a simple thing we can do to break the loop – to bring some fresh air in. We need to lure our mind to change context and look for something else.
The most trivial way to do that is to step outside and take a walk. In addition to literally changing context and breathing fresh air, changing your surroundings brings new things into view. You no longer see just your problem, but you are also able to see other things around you – literally.
Outside. I’ve decided to take a walk. I am trying to forget that writing thing that keeps bothering me. It is not easy. My mind keeps drifting back to what was occupying it before I went out. I need to have some coffee…
The problem is that simply stepping outside just doesn’t do the job for many of us. Our mind might be so deep in the loop that even changing our physical location is not enough for it to disconnect and switch to something else. How often do you see people walking in the street but instead of looking around them (even enjoying it) they carry with them this infinite loop from the office or home. How many of them are even trying to look at something other than their smartphone screen?
If you really want some time off from that nagging problem – if you want to change context and let your mind rest – you need to find something appealing for your mind to do. Something that will convince it to look around mindfully, to enjoy the moment, and maybe (just maybe) to find some unexpected raw material that can be used to solve the challenge you are facing (without meaning to). We need something that will put our problem on hold. We need to give our mind a break.
Inside my favorite Cafe. The waitress is taking her time, and my mind is still in the loop. OK, let’s trick it – let’s find something different for it to do. Let’s just look around and try to find something related to… Carousel…
One of the fantastic side effects of playing with seempli is just what we are looking for. Pick a random Seed and just look around you for something inspired by it. When I picked the Carousel Seed and looked around me, I just gave my mind something else to do. Something which is very appealing to the human mind, as we are all wired to observe, be curious, and imagine. It is that external trigger (in the form of concrete, yet open, creative challenge) that convinced my mind to put my problem on hold.
After a couple of minutes of looking around me in different directions (which, I admit, might look strange to a bystander) my eyes caught a fan on the ceiling. It was spinning, and the association to a Carousel was perfect. But Something else happened at the same time. Since somewhere deep in my mind the question “what should I write about next?” was still there (although on hold), my mind used the fan I saw and created a metaphor (yes, the one I used above) that spawned the idea for this article!
Let’s go through this again in slow motion: I was having a problem, and my mind kept thinking about it with no results. I wanted to give it some time off, so I used an external trigger to “trick” my mind to be occupied with something else. The seempli challenge does not require the same type of brain power I used in the infinite thinking-loop. It’s an observational and imaginative task which can let my mind rest and “forget” the loop it was in. Then, an external finding – a random fan I happened to see now although it was always there “unnoticed” – didn’t only solve my seempli challenge. It helped me solve my original problem as well almost unconsciously.
This amazing result is not guaranteed of course. You might see many interesting things around you – things you haven’t noticed or didn’t see the beauty of before – that will not contribute directly to addressing the issue that is bothering your mind. That is perfectly OK. At least you will give your brain some time off. Maybe, just maybe, these things you notice will come in handy in addressing a future challenge. And if you are lucky, you will return from your creative break not only with a clear mind but also with some surprising pieces that fit your jigsaw puzzle perfectly.
Using seempli Lidor works with individuals, teams, and organizations seeking to develop, master, and apply creativity.