A Super Simple Technique When You Can't Think Straight

Jordan Brown

Your world suffers when you can't think straight.

But you already know this.

You know what happens when your thoughts are cloudy and your head is swimming in them.

Today, you'll learn about a few reasons you're not thinking straight.

And then you'll learn what you can do about it with a SIMPLE approach.

Thinking straight doesn't happen right away, but it is within your reach.

In fact, you already have what you need.

Why You Can't Think Straight

"I can't think because of this awful wallpaper."

What a phrase: "Think straight."

Have you ever stopped to consider what it actually means?

Do your thoughts have a direction?

Are they going from one place to another?

While you can't see your thoughts get up and walk right out of your head, that image is actually appropriate here.

Because when we say we want to think straight, we're saying that we want our thoughts to go forward, that we want to make forward progress to go from one mental destination to another. And where we go mentally, the body can go physically.

You absolutely know it when you can't think straight because this kind of thing happens:

  • You become easily confused
  • You doubt yourself
  • You don't make progress in your daily tasks or in your life
  • You're apt to go along with whomever seems the most confident
  • You're not living your best life

It can be an awful place to be in.

But these are just the symptoms and not the cause of your potential thinking problems.

Thinking Problem Causes might include:

  • You have too much going on at the moment
  • You're dealing with an illness, either physical or mental
  • You have too many people giving you instructions, often conflicting ones
  • You don't have enough information to make a good decision
  • You don't know what kind of information is trustworthy
  • You're overtired
  • You're too amped up (from caffeine, for example)

As you can see, there can be any number of reasons you can't think straight.

What's most important is that you don't blame it on yourself, that you don't make it your identity.

This behavior is far too common, and it's disastrous when you pin the blame on yourself.

Because you are never just one thing.

You are never the sole cause. You may be a cause, but you are never the only one.

And it is to causes that we now turn.

Because root-cause analysis is one of your best friends.

How to Think Straight and Move Forward

It seems so easy. Just walk forward. For a thousand miles...

Root-cause analysis is just a fancy-pants term for asking:

"What's going on here?"

Getting to the root of something is what you need to do whenever you can't think straight.

One of my absolute favorite methods to do this is something that children do ALL OF THE TIME.

Ask why.

In fact, ask why five times.

You don't have to stop there--and children certainly don't.

But grown-ups, we got !@#$ to do!

Here's a business example:

Toyota, the world-renowned car manufacturer, actually uses the Five Why's Method as part of their actual business operations.

The company got to where it is today because of business practices developed from clear thinking.

That clear thinking is then implemented with extreme focus and clear direction.

And here's an example from a fictitious man I'll call Tony Taco.

Tony Taco is struggling with his family.

He doesn't think they understand him, and he doesn't know why he can't get his point across.

Every time he tries, the thoughts just don't come together.

He's rushing into arguments, and he always loses.

So he starts to ask why five times:

Why am I struggling so much with my family?

Because I'm misunderstood.

Why am I misunderstood?

Because no one gets me.

Why does no one get me?

Well, because maybe I don't explain myself well.

Why don't I explain myself well?

To think of it, because I don't actually think much about what I'm going to say before I rush over for family dinner.

Well, why don't I actually think about what I'm going to say?

Because I have way too much going on in my own life, and I'm not making any quiet time for reflection.

And so Tony Taco decides to set aside some time for him, just to reflect on what he is feeling. It's not actually his family's problem. They might be part of it. But more than likely, it's his personal approach to dealing with his own life situation.

While this is a silly example with a guy named Taco, it illustrates a powerful concept.

If you can't think straight, the answer isn't out there. It's already within you.

A root-cause analysis process, such as asking Why five times, can be life-changing.

To summarize, thinking straight is about getting going in a clear direction, in as direct a way as possible

The odd thing is, to go forward, you often need to first go within.

But if you take the time to search the canyons of your mind, the road out of the darkness becomes clear.

Like a spring-loaded Jack-in-the-Box, you must turn the wheels of your mind before your thoughts can burst forward and take you where you need to go.