Solving Difficult Problems

When you have a complex problem to solve, how do you go about solving it? Here is some information that might help you.

Sometimes, when we have complex or difficult problems to solve, our feelings of being under pressure cause us to push so hard for solutions that we wind up spinning our wheels. We study the problem from every possible angle, collect huge amounts of information, struggle hard and do lots of analysis. Still the answer evades us.

Some of this is because it’s hard for us to tolerate feeling confused for very long. We want certainty, and we want clear answers. However, sometimes it’s better not to push it. Dr. Peter Carruthers, one-time head of theoretical physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said that our unconscious (or what we refer to as the subconscious) is an important factor in solving complex problems.

This means that while you certainly need to collect all the information you can, and sometimes literally immerse yourself in the problem, at some point it’s important to back off and leave it alone for a while, trusting that creative, productive mental work will continue even if you’re not aware of it. Peak performers of all kinds demonstrate this, and researchers confirm it: analysis and intuition are partners in creative work. They need each other to be truly effective.

People who won’t relax their dependence on concrete, countable information often just can’t see possibilities that don’t fit into what they already know. The lock on to what they know and lock out the possibility of other insights. However, if you’re willing to let go for a while and let your subconscious and creative subconscious have a turn, you may be surprised and pleased at the results.