When it comes to expanding our creative thinking and finding innovative solutions, one powerful technique stands out: free association. This simple yet effective hack taps into the immense potential of our subconscious mind, allowing us to access a wealth of ideas and insights.
Our brains are incredible information processors, constantly observing, learning, and storing data like a sophisticated computer. However, our conscious mind can only focus on a limited amount of information at a time. This is where our subconscious mind comes into play, filtering and filing information behind the scenes. Sometimes, though, this filtering system may cause us to miss out on crucial data points that could be invaluable in certain situations.
So, how do we overcome these blocks and access the information we need?
Enter free association—a search program for our brains. Through free association, we can direct our minds to retrieve specific information related to the problems we're trying to solve. The interesting part is that we already engage in free association in our daily lives, often without even realizing it.
Think about your average workday. Over time, our brains learn to identify the key information we need to perform our jobs effectively. Our conscious mind sends signals to our subconscious mind, highlighting the most relevant and important information. This continuous training allows us to develop conscious knowledge and skills in our respective fields.
By consciously utilizing free association, we can harness the full potential of our subconscious mind for creative problem-solving. Let's explore how this technique can help us unlock new ideas and solutions, empowering women to expand their creative thinking like never before.
FREE ASSOCIATION IN 6 STEPS:
Find your thinking space. Where do you do your best thinking?
Write down a “why” or “how” question related to your problem. You want to ask your brain “why” or “how” questions like these because they trigger your brain into finding an answer.
Once you’ve got your question, repeat it to yourself a few times and write down the first things that surface into your conscious mind. You are beginning to observe your brain in action pushing subconscious information to the forefront. Cool, right?
Then, do it again and again. Keep going for 10-15 minutes. The words might be related but they definitely don’t need to be. Don’t place judgement on the thoughts or try to overanalyze them. Keep writing down key words, thoughts, images, feelings, memories, etc.
Diligently observe your thoughts. Be conscious if you are thinking about negative aspects too much. Maybe you need to just let your imagination run a little wild. Again, don’t try to control the direction or flow. Every now and then, remind yourself you are thinking about the original question.
When you think you are finished, review the list, see if you can combine any ideas, and ask how they relate to the original question. Try to see the relationship between the problem you are thinking about and the list. Maybe there is something you need to reexamine or learn more about.
By practicing free association, journaling, and meditation, you can improve your problem-solving skills and tap into your subconscious mind's full potential. For more information on the science behind creative thinking and problem-solving, check out the podcast Using Science to Spark Maximum Creativity if you are interested in learning more about the science behind creative thinking and problem-solving.