I regularly travel to various locations to teach coaching skills to professionals to enhance communication between them and their clients. As part of the course I include information on neuropsychology because I see the value in having an understanding of how the brain works at the neurological level. By no means do I think you need to be an expert in the topic to make use of its principles. Rather, a basic understanding of the key principles can be all that is needed to make some very positive shifts in how you think, and hence the results you get.
There is a lot information available on neuropsychology. One of my favourite books on the topic is David Rock’s ‘Your Brain at Work’ because I think Rock makes excellent use of metaphors, making a potentially complex topic easy to understand. So, if at the end of this post you want more, then I’d start with this book.
Sometimes, the beauty of letting go is it creates insights…
An insight is when a solution or idea comes to your suddenly, and sometimes surprisingly. It can be surprising because it happens at a time when you weren’t trying to find an answer but your unconscious mind suddenly brings it into your conscious mind (the unconscious mind never stops working!) According to Rock, the insight experience is also characterised by “a lack of logical progression to the solution, but instead a sudden ‘knowing’ regarding the answer”. This ‘knowing’ is usually associated with positive feelings because there is a sense that the idea is right or obvious.
Perhaps you know what I’m talking about… you’re in the shower, or chopping veggies for dinner, or driving in your car and suddenly a thought comes to you. It’s usually when you are doing these kinds of auto-pilot activities (i.e. don’t take a lot of thinking energy) that it happens. And you definitely know it’s an insight if it’s also followed by the thought “I should write this don’t so I don’t forget it later”.
This knowledge can be viewed in reverse too. You may be able to think of times when you are really trying to come up with a solution to an issue or problem but your brain feels like it has hit a wall and goes blank or feels overloaded. In this moment, you are having an ‘impasse’ in thinking.
When you’ve hit an impasse, you are in the left side of your brain because that is the side of your brain that is triggered when you are too focused on a solution and its details. The left side of the brain is very useful and necessary for details but to create new ideas you need to be more in the right hemisphere of your brain (the more creative side).
There is also a link between emotional states and insights. The happier you are, the more insights you are likely to have. When you are anxious there is too much overall electrical activity making it harder for you to pick up on subtle insight signals. Apparently this is why companies such as Google create work environments that allow fun and play; because they have seen the increase in the quality of ideas.
Having knowledge (based on science) that it is when you are in ‘relax’ mode that solutions and ideas often happen, provides a possible strategy for increasing insights and hence increasing creativity.
According to Rock, what is needed to get past an impasse is to walk away from a problem and get unconscious. “The wrong answers are stopping the right ones from emerging.”
So let go…
Do something enjoyable…
Because your wonderful unconscious mind will continue working even when you’re not. Even when you have a deadline, if you’ve hit an impasse, allow your brain the environment that it needs to work most effectively when the task at hand is to come up with a solution.
Even if you’re not on a deadline, but have a personal issue that has been bugging you. You are more likely to find a solution that feels right to you if you are able to find the ability to walk away from it for a while. Take a break and do something light or interesting.
And, for me, when I do get my insight, writing it down is often a good idea too