Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

April 11, 2013

What To Think When You Don’t Know What To Think.

A lot of life is confusing.  You aren’t always sure how to interpret all the noise you hear around you. You get feedback from work, home, and play.  And you aren’t always sure what you should think.

You have a few options:

  1. Think nothing.  Just ignore the noise.
  2. Think the worst possible thing. Interpret the noise as a threat.
  3. Think that it “will all work itself out”.  Be positive about what you hear.
  4. Avoid thinking. Skirt the conversation and hope it all goes away.

Or you can combine a few of these scenarios in different ways to present an even more nuanced self-solution.

Depending on your mood, the time of day, or momentary chaos, you are likely to think any number of things — all for (somewhat) illogical reasons.

That’s just how your brain works.  It’s trying to protect you.  So “thinking clearly” is much more difficult than finding a quiet space and some free time to review through the “facts”.

There are no facts.

That’s the first thing your brain will remind you — “Maybe this time it’s different….”

So if there are no facts and if you are likely to respond any number of unpredictable ways, how do you go about “thinking”?

There is no one-size-fits-all cure for powering up better thinking.  Frankly, any cure would instantly be “uncured” when your brain figured out that you were trying to cure it.  You can’t trick yourself.  But you can be deliberate about your thinking.

Here are some ways to do that.

  1. Say it out loud. — Many times just saying what you are thinking makes your thinking a little more clear.  You can hear if you “sound crazy” or not.
  2. Write out what you know. — Putting your thinking on paper and drawing connections makes it easier for your brain to build those mental connections
  3. Go some place new. — Curiosity gets your brain pushed into overdrive.  The new stimuli in your new surroundings helps your brain think more clearly.
  4. Walk around. — Exercise distracts your brain from negative thinking. You’ll usually always find a new option or two after you’ve had a chance to work up a sweat.
  5. Ask for help.  — Ideas from others help you get started to think about what you should think.  Even a bad idea helps you triage your own emotions and creates clearer thinking.

Think about it.

Everything you do demands a thought — a good one at that.

So thinking about how you think when it’s hard to think is a good thing to think about.

You brain is looking for ways to help you be awesome.  Sometimes it needs a little help from you.

What do you think?

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.