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How I get unstuck

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

If I need to get something done I have to focus, I have to create the right time and space to focus and not be distracted. I am so easily distracted!

There are other times I get stuck and as hard as I focus I cannot get un-stuck and then I have to remind myself to step away from the thinking. I know the best way forward is to put my stuckness to the back of my head and do something else. I’ll go for a walk or do some gardening or just sit outside whilst I drink my tea and magic happens. An external trigger such as a smell, a touch, a sound or a sight will give me an a-ha moment and my stuckness will ease.

These two ways of getting things done have various names such as voluntary/involuntary thinking; internal/external stimulus; blue sky/critical thinking; dreamer/realist.

I find that whatever name they are given they feel like either I have my eyes down and focused or I have my eyes up and wide. I was reminded of this at the beach recently when I noticed I could either look closely at the shingle on the beach or I could look out to sea at the horizon, I could not look at the detail and the big picture horizon at the same time.

I am always curious about how we move from eyes down to eyes up and what tools are around to help this move.

One of the methods I enjoy using with clients wishing to explore a new direction or a challenging issue is the Disney Creativity Strategy, which can be explained simply as a method to consciously choose between being in ‘dreamer’, ‘realist’, ‘critic’ or 'neutral' mode of being/thinking. I use four areas in an outside space or the corners of a room to symbolise each mode of being.

We physically move to the ‘dreamer’area where there are no limits to what is possible and I ensure our body posture is open and our eyes are up.

Person looking up to the sky

We dream and capture ideas and hopes and possibilities. We may wander around, draw or gather objects or use lego to spark our thinking – anything to keep the creativity flowing. Once the flow of ideas has begun to slow down and we agree it is time to move on we move from dreaming to the ‘realist’area.

As the realist we look at the ideas we have just discovered and start to dig deeper into them. We take our eyes down and focus in on the idea and we may put our hands on our chin as we think.

The Thinker statue

We explore how practical, affordable and likely to succeed they are. We begin to focus in on the options that might work and look at timescales and effort required. We might come up with some experiments to take the idea further or we may decide we need to talk to other people and get their support. We have the beginnings of a plan of action.

Once we have some options we like we move to the ‘critic’area. We imagine we are our biggest critics (sometimes it is the voice in your own head!) and look for all the flaws in our ideas and plans. We stand with a strong stance and maybe even put our hands on our hips or wag our fingers at the ideas we have come up with.

A person holding one puppet criticising another puppet

We capture these flaws because they will make our thinking and planning better and help us develop our narrative around what we will be choosing to do. Being the critic can be really energising and fun and it is a way to give your inner critic some airtime that will help you quieten its voice.

After visiting all three areas we will then go to the fourth, the neutral area, where we will stand back and review what has happened, how it was and what is left to do. It may be the idea is fully formed and no further visits to the other areas are required or it may be you want to visit all or some of the other modes of being/thinking again a number of times. We do this until a single idea or a number of options stand the test of the critic and there are clear experiments or next steps to take.

We will take one final view from the neutral area to check nothing is left to be done in this session, knowing we can always revisit this in future.

If this is something you would like to experiment with then it is easy to do on your own but often the power comes from having someone alongside to move through the process with you. Someone who can reflect back the intensity of your feelings and who can help you move if you get stuck in one mode of being too long.

I offer these sessions from a room in my garden, or in my small area of woodland or wherever you will feel most comfortable to take part. Please do get in touch to find out more and to book a session.

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