Problem Identification Without Thinking

Photo by Na Urchin on

Too tired to think?

Yet you have problems to solve? Problems that are driving you to distraction, keeping you awake at night, and playing havoc with your appetite. On top of that you have anxiety, your mind is exhausting every last ounce of your energy, and you have to get proactive?

Yes you do!


Becoming proactive can be taken at your own pace, in your own good time, and in line with what you need. You don’t have to follow what anyone else did, how they did it, or even have the same why. You can do it your way.

Just avoid these traps:

  • Thinking that thinking is taking action. It isn’t.
  • Thinking that knowing you have problems is the answer. It isn’t.
  • Thinking that admitting that you have problems is the answer. Again, it isn’t.

As you see, all these traps are based in thinking, and our thoughts can set out to fool us so that we remain safe as the person we are, instead of jumping out of our comfort zone into our adventure zone, without a lift belt.

That’s what’s outside your comfort zone, your adventure zone.

Adventure? At a time like this? Seriously?!

Yes, it’s far better than thinking that change is a really scary thing, hard beyond belief to achieve, and that you’re going to have to struggle for years to create that change. Think of it instead of booking a great holiday to a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting, luxury status all the way, and someone else is paying! It’s that kind of adventure.

No luxury hotel or fantastic holiday will ever feel as good as a happy mind. Holidays end, happiness doesn’t have to.

Okay how?

Start by identifying the problems that are helping to make the anxiety worse, if not creating it. If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, in that I mentioned that clinical anxiety, or PTSD driven anxiety (forgot to mention that yesterday, apologies) doesn’t fall under the heading of ‘things that can be solved with action, it will help, but medical support will be key.

But if your anxiety is life-driven, created in the past by the words and actions of others, and you’ve carried on the pattern, there is a lot that you can do.

Let’s get creative!

I’m sure you’ve discovered that thinking about your problems often just wears you out to the point that actually taking action over them is beyond your energy reserves. Try this:

  • Get some blank paper
  • Add some coloured pens or pencils
  • Write the word ‘problems’ in the middle of that sheet of paper in any colour you like.
  • Then create a mind map of your problems. Start by writing problems in the centre. Then identifying a top layer (such as finances), then working through that subject , and repeat until you have it all mapped out. Change colours as often as you wish, colours have meanings.

You can find mind mapping software on line, and images of mind maps if you’re not sure how to start.


In life colours have meanings and perceptions attached. You will no doubt be familiar with:

  • Blue = calm; communication
  • Red = anger; power
  • Black = despair; strength
  • Yellow = sunlight, happiness; optimism
  • Green = love; environment; renewal
  • Orange = joy; warmth; enthusiasm
  • Purple = introspection; insight
  • Pink = love; peace

Look up the meanings of colours on line if you want to go into it deeper, or have used a colour I haven’t mentioned here. There’s plenty of information out there.


I once had a client who came to me with more problems than she knew what to do with. I got her to do the above exercise and when I came back the sheet of paper was covered with what looked like a serious number of problems. Except that she’d only used three colours. When I looked at everything written in those colours, they linked up, and it boiled down to three problems. Just three. The colours showed us that, and the beauty of it was that she could physically see that herself.

Imagine the weight that fell off her in that moment?

The meaning of the colours helped a great deal. For example, she had written finances in blue, that meant that there was a need to communicate in order to solve this problem. Obviously we both thought bank, financial advisors, etc. But she also had a love issue going on (pink), and in sorting out that issue and talking about it, she found that the person she was in a relationship with was very wealthy – something she hadn’t known.

This person really appreciated the fact that in a year of dating, she had not once mentioned any financial issues even though they drove a very nice car and had a very nice apartment. As part of dealing with the relationship issues her partner also helped to solve her financial issues, and she was in the process of paying them back. So that blue of communication meant something different than we thought, a simple talked solved a huge weight of debt.

I forget the third colour. But at the third session she said that if I’d told her that in less than three coaching sessions all her issues would be completely an utterly solved she would not have believed me. I asked her what she thought had worked so well, and she said the creativity of drawing her issues out in colour, and the simplicity of the process. Rather than banging her head against a brick wall, she solved her problems by returning to the childhood joy of working with colours, creatively.

It’s an excellent method to employ for a tired mind, and basically means that you solve the problem without focusing on it. Write, check the meaning of the colours, work out what it means.

So you have your mind map?

Now what? Now you assess your problems and make a list in degree of difficulty in solving them, from simple and easy, to challenging.

YOU DO NOT leap on the biggest challenge you have and try to solve that. You’re tired remember, hopefully you’ve started working with meditation or relaxing exercise to give that mind a break, but you’re like a triple jumper with a recently mended broken leg. You don’t want to go too crazy at once.

You take the simplest, the easiest problem, and solve it. Maybe you change that light bulb, paint that room, declutter a bit, tidy the house. Just do that. Then you will have solved a problem. Then take the next easiest and work on that. Now you’ve solved two problems

By the time you get to the big stuff you will be better in yourself due to the meditation, exercise, healthy eating, water drinking, and all that good stuff. You will be a person practiced in solving problems, you will be thinking of yourself as a problem solver, and that’s what you will be.

Then grab the big stuff, which won’t feel anywhere near as big, by the scruff of the neck. Break it down into small steps, and repeat the process a little at a time.

The problem isn’t the problem

The latest element of my mentoring work with groups is to take our focus off the problems we have. You’re probably thinking “and go to the solutions…heard all that before”. No that’s not what it’s about.

It’s about relaxing, considering those problems in an abstract way, not delving into the depths of them and become obsessed. Not blaming your past self. Just staying relaxed and mulling until solutions start to appear. You may even surprise yourself that a lot of the problems don’t need solving, a mindset change will be just as affective.

So as you mull over your mind map, you will probably find that though each section looks complex, it’s all much of the same thing. A tired mind churns over and over. Simplify what you’re seeing, maybe do a reduced mind map with the simple points. Then ask “do I need to solve this or do I need to put it to one side? Or “is this even my problem?”

I could continue here but it’s a good start on making problem solving easy and creative rather than grotty and exhausting. I’ll come back to this.

In the meantime

To your happiness, and believing in keep life simple

Deb xx


Published by debdancingstarhawken7

I'm a writer, public speaker, medium, and spiritual thinker. I suffered from acute anxiety from the age of 16 until I was well into my 50s, after fearlessly exploring many ideas, philosophies, and tools, I finally found methods that helped me return my mind to a better normal. One of the things I hated about anxiety was the way people treated me like a fool or a problem, I have two degrees and I'm a (much) retired black belt, my IQ is decent, but I constantly felt like a complete idiot, something that was exacerbated by never feeling like the real me. The girl who could laugh endlessly about the smallest things, and had a real excitement about what life had to offer her. I didn't need anyone else to tell me I wasn't 'right', I knew that better than anyone. My mission now is to support people suffering as I did with a message of support with what they're going through, tools and ideas that might help, and a strong message of hope for the future. At 63, which I am at the time of writing, many people I know are in a rut, yet having beaten anxiety I'm now doing more with my life than I ever did when I was struggling just to get up in the morning, let alone face the day. It's a wonderful feeling - so the main message is that it doesn't matter how long you've been struggling or what age you are, when you beat anxiety you will get an entirely new lease of life - and that's fantastic at any age. On a personal note I'm married to my soul mate, we have 5 cats, and I live in the middle of the UK. I follow a number of fantastic thinkers, as it's important to immerse yourself in healthy thinking as often as you can, I'm a Toastmaster and professional public speaker, and I keep life simple and encourage my clients to do the same, and my friends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: