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Problem-solving is an opportunity. It is an occasion to assert control in our life and to take responsibility for our direction and progress. It's a time to test our theories -- to improve on the ones that work and to learn from the ones that don't work. In problem-solving, we learn how the world works, and we learn about ourselves and our capabilities.
- We can approach a problem in many ways. These techniques include making an analogy of it, drawing a picture of it, viewing it in the opposite of the convention perspective, redefining it in a different context or just in different words, imagining the advice we would give to someone who approached us with this problem, challenging our assumptions regarding the situation, asking ourselves what this problem might be trying to teach us, visualizing a future scenario in which the problem has been solved (and then seeing how it was solved), looking for patterns of similar problems that have arisen, pretending that we are a novice who is seeing the situation from a fresh outlook, or asking ourselves, "If I knew the correct choice, which one would it be?"
- Increase the flow of ideas. While brainstorming for a solution, let your imagination run freely to generate as many ideas as possible. As the ideas appear, write them without evaluating their suitability or logic; any analysis or criticism would disrupt the creativity. We can permit ideas that are wild and unreasonable; they will be sorted out later.
- Let the problem incubate. After we have gathered and studied the necessary information (through brainstorming and research), the solution might not emerge immediately. This is the time for incubation -- letting the problem be mulled over by other parts of our brain which have special skills in organizing data. We might say that the problem goes from the conscious mind to the unconscious, or from the brain's analytical left hemisphere to the creative right hemisphere. During this incubation period, we might think about the problem occasionally, but we do this in a receptive, relaxed, patient, "listening" way, knowing that the answer will come to us.