If you find yourself thinking in circles when trying to solve a problem, it is time to think outside the box using creative problem solving techniques. Sometimes rational thought just isn't the best way to come up with a solution. Inspiration and creative thought can be much more valuable.

The first step in creative problem solving is to assess your approach to the problem. What assumptions have you made in thinking there is a problem in the first place? Are these assumptions valid? Or have you invented roadblocks that do not really exist? For example, you might think that you need to get a new job. If you step back and challenge the assumptions that led you to this conclusion, you might find that the "problem" is invalid or incomplete. You might realize that you only think you need a new job because you need more income. Now that you've challenged your assumptions and uncovered the real problem, you can think about getting more income without changing jobs--perhaps by selling off items you no longer use or by lowering your expenses. Now you have completely changed your original problem! What started out as "I need a new job" has become "I need more income," and now you are better equipped to find a solution.

Brainstorming is a time-tested technique, but if you've used it a lot you may be getting tired of it. For a creative twist on brainstorming, try reverse brainstorming. Instead of thinking about what the problem is, think about what the problem is not.

Another creative approach is to change your perspective. Instead of thinking about how you see the problem and what steps you might take to solve it, imagine how the situation looks to someone else. Maybe you envision the problem from the perspective of a child or a very poor person, or even a visitor from outer space. What differences do you see in the problem? What new solutions present themselves? This approach is sometimes called the Napoleon Technique.

Breaking big problems into smaller ones is also a good approach. What seemed daunting before now seems much more manageable. By separating out different aspects of the problem, you free yourself up to solve each aspect in the most creative, effective fashion, rather than trying to think up a single solution that encompasses everything at once.

Don't be afraid to harness the power of your subconscious mind in order to solve a problem. Unlimited by the rational mind, your subconscious can dream wildly and come up with unexpected approaches to problems. Some methods for using the subconscious mind include free writing and working just before sleep. If you want to try free writing, just set aside a chunk of time--10 to 20 minutes will do--and write down everything thought that comes to you. Don't censor yourself or eliminate any ideas because they seem too crazy or far fetched. The whole point is to think outside the box, so the crazier the better in this case! You can also prepare your sleeping mind to work on the problem by thinking about the problem as you wind down for sleep. Be sure to keep pen and paper handy so you can record your ideas when you wake up.

Author's Bio: 

Jill Magso is a member of the Silva Team and contributes to spreading enlightened ideas and sharing teachings about meditation practices. The Silva Method encompasses a variety of powerful exercises that take you deep into Alpha and Theta levels of the mind so that you can work within your subconscious as well as your conscious mind.