When I’m working on a problem, I talk to myself. It’s better to talk to someone else like a coach, or a colleague, but someone else isn’t always available. So when you don’t have anyone else, talk to your self.
“I’m stuck” I said.
“I know part of this idea is good, but I’m stuck and I’m starting to doubt myself."
“Wait. Why should I doubt myself, shouldn’t I just say there’s gotta be a different way?”
“Ok let me restate. I’m stuck. Part of this idea is good, wondering if there is a different way”
“Maybe... lemme go get that book..."
Why? Because when you talk out loud, you become the speaker and hearer of your thoughts. The continuous monologue we all have in our brains turns into a dialogue. You get to play yourself and also a friend of yourself. Thoughts in monologue often go unquestioned and can runaway to illogical places. In dialogue, you get the opportunity to be counter and respond to your thoughts.
In the monologue version of my thoughts, you could see my logic going something like this:
I had a good idea > Got stuck at that one part > Still stuck > I’m bad at solving problems > It was never a good idea and I’m not good at this > I should quit.
In monologue that slips right past. My brain made a massive jump from “I’m still stuck on this problem” to "I must be bad at this” and then slid all the way down that proverbial hill into the swamps of disillusionment. Not a fun place to be. Making these massive, illogical jumps is more difficult in dialogue.
In dialogue this thought process might look more like:
I had a good idea > Got stuck at that one part > Still stuck > I’m bad at solving problems > No you’re not > Maybe you need to reframe the problem? > Go back to the problem, zoom out and use that book
In dialogue I get the chance to counter myself. Am I actually bad at solving problems? What proof can I show? Point of fact, (that’s my best lawyer voice) I have heaps of proof that I am very good at solving problems! I’ve solved thousands of problems! So if I am good at solving problems then what is the issue here? Maybe I’m working on the wrong part of the problem. Time to reframe it.
Allow the Dialogue.
The next time you’re working on a problem, talk to yourself. It’s been shown to help you learn
. It can also help you stay on your own team and keep you out of the swampy, slimy pits of disillusionment. I don’t want you to be there. You don’t want to be there. Don’t go there. Allow yourself the full argument, not just the one-sided monologue.