Tools for Thinking & Problem-Solving

Problems In Life And How To Solve Them

If there is a problem in life that needs to be solved in the world that does not fall under misperceptions related to individuation, what reality actually is, or what is a more adaptive perception, you can consider the concepts, exercises, and tools in this section to help solve the worry regarding a real-world problem that requires a solution. Below are tools that can aid you in solving current problems that come to light which require a solution during the exploration and implicit memory change process.

Exploring the Problem In Life

The majority of problem-solving in life is in exploring the nature and dynamics of the problem as the solution(s) becomes obvious after this is accomplished. Here are some guiding questions to help you with defining and solving the problem you face:

TOOL: Exploring the Problem

  1. Define
    1. Describe the problem in life you want to solve or issue as precisely as possible.
  2. Actual Issue
    1. What is the actual issue or issues here? Look at these one at a time.
  3. Relevance
    1. Is this problem or issue relevant to the issues or problems as prioritized by your values and goals?
  4.  Significance
    1. Is this problem or issue significant to your values and goals at this time and place? The difference between relevance and significance is that relevance is about whether something is connected with the core value or goal, and significance refers to the priority you place on it and whether the connection with the value or goal actually matters to you and in what way.
  5. Meta Question
    1. What is the reason for asking the question in the first place? This may help to look at the implicit intention or need associated with the problem.
  6. Implicit Reasons
    1. What are the underlying or core motives/reasons of each person/place/thing involved (including yourself)?
  7. Prerequisite Answers
    1. To figure out this problem, are there any other questions that you need to determine the answer to first?
  8. Degree of Certainty
    1. Is this problem even possible to definitively answer at this time? Or will there be some uncertainty? On a scale of 1-10, how certain can you be if 10 is very certain, and 1 is not at all certain?
  9. Implicit Assumptions
    1. What are your underlying assumptions about the problem? What cues or evidence leads you to assume this?
    2. Are there any other possible assumptions you could at least explore? Even if you don’t believe there are, it may be helpful to explore this to get a more complete assessment of the issue.
    3. Is there anywhere you got this assumption from? Where might you have picked it up?
  10. Possibility versus Probability
    1. Is this a remote possibility, or is it a probability? The difference is that something is possible but really unlikely to happen for a remote possibility. For a probability, this means that it is the most likely case given the known evidence.
  11. Experts
    1. Is there anyone who may have some insight either because of a unique vantage point during observation or extensive study or experience or talent?
  12. Implications
    1. If it were true, what would that mean? If it were not true, what would it mean?
  13. Repercussions
    1. What else would transpire if this were true?
  14. Alternative Viewpoints
    1. How would other groups or individuals view this issue?
    2. What are some other possible views?
    3. If someone disagreed, what might they say?
    4. If someone agreed, what might they say?
    5. How are these viewpoints similar and different? Are there any common core themes? What are the differences in the core themes? Are there any specific aspects that are the same? Are there any different specific aspects? Consider seemingly non-relevant aspects too because sometimes these can yield unseen important variables, or inspire consideration of important variables.

Thinking Concepts

Thinking tools and strategies can assist with the process of thinking creatively so as to formulate new solutions: alternatives, options, and resources to the problems that arise in your life.

The foundation of thinking with clarity begins with moderating your physiological arousal and establishing the optimal conditions of working with your mind such as slowly, lightly, and gradually shifting your attention at a pace and rhythm that feels comfortable.

Below are some tools and concepts that can aid you in solving the problem in life that you become aware of during the exploration and implicit memory change process, and after better defining it:

Lateral Thinking

Thinking in possibilities relates to brainstorming. This type of thinking is also called “lateral thinking” and harnesses associative memory. This type of memory mirrors the structure of the neural network in your brain. Just as many neurons are connected with one another, so are thoughts, feelings, and beliefs interconnected.

Many people seem to have difficulty with thinking in possibilities because of the fear of making mistakes and failing resulting in feelings of shame and low self-worth. As you think of anything right now, what is something else that reminds you of what you are thinking of now? Become aware of your body and feelings as you do this because the shift in association often arises as a shift in non-verbal felt sense of meaning.

This is often an effortless process. However, you can direct the associations as well because there are many features and therefore cues to elicit an association. For example, pretend you have a thought about someone you don’t like. What is the first thought or feeling that comes to mind about them? It could be that you felt they were inconsiderate, for example. Now, think of the opposite of that quality, and who exhibits , for example, consideration to you. This technique uses the mechanism and leverage of associative thinking which is the core of cognition.

Another concept and strategy is to become aware of some of the elements, aspects, or features of the thought that arises. What is the most prominent or first image you see? What feeling are you experiencing as you see this? Start with whether you like it or dislike it. What do you dislike about it? Become aware of your body and feelings and sensations in a light and general way. Don’t narrow in on the specific feeling because this activates the left hemisphere. We want to activate a more global perspective (right hemisphere) which contains the underlying beliefs, emotions, and body feelings. When implementing new beliefs, we would activate both the left hemisphere and right hemisphere so that integration occurs.

Self-Directed Metaphor and Analogy

Even choosing an arbitrary word or picture can help because there may be features or elements of the word that remind you of aspects of whatever the contents of your mind are. Dreams seem to operate in the metaphorical or analogous realm, which are related to the right hemisphere of the brain.

This hemisphere is also implicated in being the seat of our implicit or unconscious memory. It develops first, does not understand verbal language very much, and is more connected with the body, which means that it understands through metaphor, felt sense, recognition, procedure, and movement.

Hypothetical Changes

Being able to use the mind to imagine a change in the variables can be a very powerful way to explore desires, fears, problems, and solutions. Make this a creative exercise and try to tolerate some remote possibilities as this may inspire solutions through associative thinking. Imagine one element is changed. You could begin by choosing one element that you (or part of you) desire. What might the repercussions of this change be? What are some of the benefits? What are some of the disadvantages?

Double, Friend, or Loved One’s Perspective

If this problem in life or situation were happening to a friend, what might you want to say to them? If you are in a private setting, actually say this out loud and pretend to actually say this to a friend. Actually doing it can help to form a deeper understanding and implicit memory of the action so that it carries into future reactions with sufficient practice and implementation.

Become aware of your body while imagining your friend or loved one in this problem or situation. What thoughts, feelings, or reactions come up? You may feel greater empathy, or recognize a feeling more clearly having seen it from a distance.

Imagine there is a double of you beside or in front of you. Say what you told your friend or loved one. Actually say it as if you were talking to a real double of yourself. Notice any impressions, feelings, or enjoyable sensations from this. Lightly linger your attention on this and enjoy this experience and be aware of the feeling or sense of it in your body in the flowing present moment as it is happening.

Past Experience

Have you experienced this, or a similar, situation before? Or, do you know of anyone who has? What can you use or learn from these to better inform your current challenge? What wisdom and counsel could you glean from this to assist you?


If you have the opportunity, go out to a place that has a wide-open space, preferably raised above the level of the other ground. Geography can help foster thinking in the big picture. Wide open spaces and places that allow you to physically see from a bird’s eye perspective also prime this thinking style in your mind and brain.


Going for a stroll, pacing back and forth, gesturing, moving your hands, and moving your eyes can help to facilitate thinking. Become aware of your body. Begin moving your eyes in a direction that might feel good. Monitor and alter the movement so it does. You can move them in any combination and direction – up, down, side, diagonal, and around. These can be big, small, or medium movements, or a mix. The pace can be fast, slow, medium, or a mix. And the rhythm can change too.

You may notice thoughts and feelings arise as you do this. As they do, continue doing the eye movement exercise while experiencing the thought or feeling. If it is too uncomfortable, think about what the opposite of that thought of feeling would be, and think of the memory, person, or like that is most closely associated with it. This is a quick way out of a distressing thought or feeling that you are not ready to deal with.

Whatever you are experiencing you can use that as a springboard out by thinking of the polar opposite, and the closest memory, thought, person, etc that reminds, represents, or feels most closely related to what you are aiming for.


Create a model of the problem in life to solve whether on paper, a computer, or even in your mind. Seeing a model either on paper or in 3D can help to grasp the totality and make it more coherent, and models tend to help the perspective register and stick with you.

Bird’s Eye Perspective

Similar to the Model exercise, but this time adding distance and further vantage point, imagine there is a miniature model on the ground in front of you in the place and situation you want to gain perspective on. Lightly and gently keep your attention on it and be aware of any impressions, images, thoughts or feelings that arise that provide some insight into the problem in life you want to solve.

Felt Sense of Solution

Get the felt sense or feeling stamp of what the solution might be. This may involve imagining what the felt sense might feel like. This is a bottom-up approach to creating a solution versus a top-down approach involving problem-solving. This makes use of the implicit brain processes and capacity and tendency of the right hemisphere to get a sensory-motor and emotional short-cut to finding the solution that accesses the database of implicit recognition memory (which is vast) to come up with a solution that drives into conscious awareness from the bottom-up (vs top-down cognitive conscious approach in problem solving).

Variation of Current Approach 

If you find yourself continually hitting the same block or challenge consider a variation of your current approach even though you may feel sure that the way you have been going about it is sound. If you continue to hit a ‘brick wall’ it is time to find a different path. Focus on testing out what actually works rather than what ‘should” work.

Looking Back

This tool is inspired by Dr. Norman Amundson from his book Active Engagement, and this can help with determining an answer or solution by harnessing and directing the brain’s marvelous ability to fill in the blanks and form patterns.

Exercise: Looking Back

Stand in one place that has some space (about 20 feet) in length. Now, imagine you have succeeded in the new way of being or solved your problem in life. You’re already there. What does it feel like? Linger on this for at least 30 seconds. Imagine what it would feel like in your body. Stay with this for 10 seconds. What thoughts would you be having. Be aware of these for 10 seconds. How would you move? Engage in this movement and posture for 10 seconds. Slowly walk to the opposite length of the room and when you get to the end imagine looking back at your journey. What did you need to do? What might the steps have been?

mdr canada logo | Wellspring Counselling Inc.
emdria logo | Wellspring Counselling Inc.