How the Problem-Solver Mind Works
Imagine your inner problem solver mind is like a herding dog. Herding dogs are hard-wired to work.
They look for things that need to be corralled, and set about the task of putting them in order, of collecting them, confining them, enclosing them, shutting them in, railing them in, walling them in, and organizing them into a well-defined formation.
They are naturally adept at their job. I once had a Shetland Sheepdog, a Sheltie, who herded everything that moved! If I was pulling a suitcase, he herded it. If I was carrying bags, he herded them. When I vacuumed, he herded the vacuum cleaner. Anything that could be herded (to his mind), was herded. He loved having a job to do, and if I didn’t assign one to him, he would create his own job. For example, whenever we walked up our long driveway to pick up the mail, I would give him one piece of it to carry back to the house. He would enthusiastically run back to the house, mail in mouth, and exude pride and joy at a job well-done when he reached the porch.
If there was nothing I could give him to carry, he would take up his self-assumed duties and look for things to bark at… once again assigning himself a job to do while we were out. He was hard-wired to problem-solve everything to the best of his abilities. In the absence of any meaningful work to do (like carry mail), he simply barked at every sound he heard, always working, always on duty, always reliable and predictable in his behavior.
Our mind has many functions, or mind-states, and many players with roles to play. One of those mind-states is our problem solver state. Its purpose is to identify problems and then go about solving them. This is a very handy function, and a necessary one to employ as we try to make our way through the world. Our problem-solver mind is highly adept at its job, and when activated properly, with purpose and intention, it serves us well.
However, when left unattended and without clear instructions, it can get stuck doing a job that the rest of our self doesn’t enjoy. Let’s say, for example, you experience malaise. Even when you’re in your happy place, or a place of great beauty, tranquility and peace, you enjoy it for a brief period of time, but inevitably, malaise creeps in and drains all the color, purpose and meaning from your world.
How can you be in a place of such beauty, yet still feel malaise? How is it that no matter what good, wonderful and amazing things are going on all around you, you experience despondency, depression, restlessness or unhappiness? What is happening in your inner world that always brings you back down to this place of melancholy and unease?
Remember your problem solver mind? Well, your problem-solver works in close proximity with your story-teller mind. Your story-teller mind thrives by telling and retelling powerful tales which then become manifest in how you experience your life. Our story-tellers are great monster builders, creating villains, and protagonists at every turn, to keep the story interesting. But our story-tellers also weave in tales of greatness that propel us along our hero’s journey.
So, whenever our problem-solver mind is called in to work, it begins with the story it is being told by the story-teller. If the story-teller is having a fantastic time adventuring in the world, our problem-solver gets to rest. However, when we pause to rest our bodies, taking a break from our wonderful story, the problem-solver comes fully back on duty. It looks at the fabulous story which has been told so far, and then it begins looking for the problem it is meant to solve.
If there isn’t an actual problem to solve, like a herding dog, it will look around for some job it can do; some perceived problem it can solve. In the absence of a new problem to solve, it will go back to work on an old one, such as our old friend malaise. This is a story our problem-solver knows quite well, so it calls it into action.
Now, imagine you’re sitting on an outcropping overlooking a beautiful valley, having just enjoyed a fantastic hike to get there, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you begin to feel uneasy, that sense of malaise coming over you. This feeling comes over you and settles in like a best friend you never wanted, but who shows up reliably for you every time you’re in a good place and your story-teller is on a break.
So, here you are, sitting in this beautiful outer-world place, only now you’re wondering ‘what the hell? How can I be sitting here in this heavenly place, feeling like I’m in hell? How can I feel blissful one moment, and tortured the next, when I haven’t moved?’ As you look around, your conscious mind knows logically that you should still be happy. You are still in that magnificently beautiful place, and your feeling state should still match it.
But it doesn’t. Your story-teller pauses, just long enough for your problem-solver to wake up and start looking for the problem at hand. Finding none, it delves into its archives and pulls out a familiar one, the one we call malaise. Satisfied that it is on task, your problem-solver sets about its work, actively pursuing malaise, and catching it, corrals it into your awareness.
As it blooms in your awareness, your story-teller wakes up and begins telling its powerful tale of woe, dis-ease and weariness. ‘Shit! Here we go again!’ and you slide down into the murkiness of depression, sadness or anxiety. This is a well worn path you’ve travelled many times. This is a story you know well, and can tell in great detail, having heard it so many times before.
There is tremendous power in communicating directly with these mind-states. Left to their own devices, they will saunter into familiar territories. But, when guided by conscious, intentional thought, they will happily assume their new duties.
What if, today, something was different. Today, before you headed out for your journey, you gave your problem-solver new instructions. You assigned it a new job, with new tasks to do. Today, you told your problem-solver mind that its only job is to identify when malaise is on its way, and, recognizing it when it appears, your problem-solver’s job is to look through the malaise to the truth underneath it, and then go back to sleep. That’s it. That’s your problem solver mind’s only job; to see the familiar problem, acknowledge it, grab it by its tail, which, like an Ouroboros, is your problem-solver’s own tail, and having completed its job of catching itself, return to a resting state. That’s it. That’s all it gets to do. Problem solved. Rest.
Meanwhile, your story-teller gets a new tale to tell. Your story-teller now gets to tell the tale of heroic self-awareness, of conquering demons, and of returning to thebliss-field where our story began on this journey, up on that beautiful outcropping. Your story-teller gets to rewrite the ending, laughing at the absurdity of the problem that got solved. Your story-teller gets to have its happily ever after, knowing there is no separation of self from bliss; there are only layers through which to see new possibilities.
So, if your problem-solver, expert that it may be at doing malaise work, gets a new job, like the herding dog that it is, it will self-solve itself, easily, quickly and contentedly. Your story-teller will gleefully write a new ending for you. And, as we all know, endings are really just demarcations of new beginnings. Oh, the stories you have yet to tell!
Love and Light, Sarah
In addition to being a founding member of DYPU and CFO, Sarah is also an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a Certified Master mBIT Coach & Trainer, an NLP Practitioner, mBIT Innergetics Coach, Intuitive, Empath, burgeoning Energy Healer, former Accountant and Business Consultant.