One of the most underrated ways in which to find an answer or figure out a problem is to talk it out.  Seriously.  The wisdom of the ages is something Pat Sajak says night after night on Wheel of Fortune: “Just talk it out…maybe the right answer will pop out.”  Most people, if they start explaining to someone what the problem is, will provide the answer right along with it. All the confusion in their head, all the what if’s and possibly’s, the swirling confusion if everything looking wrong and right at the same time, gets sorted by the simple process of telling it to someone.  Why?  Magic…um no, that’s not it…astrophysics…no…although Neil Degrasse Tyson is great at explaining things…um, oh I know!  Because telling someone else requires us to put things in context, make order of chaos, create a story which has a beginning/middle/end and reaches a conclusion that is satisfactory.  We can’t help it, that’s how stories work.

When we start talking about the problem out loud we have to have it make sense to the other person so we start sorting and sifting, putting weight on some things, and not on others.  That’s why, while it’s in your mind the problem is present and finite, when you tell it to someone you invariably have to say “well, really it all starts back here when…” and you backtrack in time.  Because the story doesn’t make sense without the beginning back there, which leads to the present right here, which contains the ending that’s coming over there.  Stories are like that.  It’s one of the reasons people are uncomfortable with indigenous culture stories because they often leave the ending unsolved or don’t have an ending at all.  The ending is meant to be supplied by the listener.

So when there’s a problem that you’re stuck on, start talking it out.  Get someone to be an audience.  You might want that to be a best friend someone who knows you so well they can point out where you’re tripping yourself up and getting in your own way. Or you might want it to be a complete stranger.  Someone with no preconceived notions of who you are or what the problem is.  What’s great about telling a stranger is you absolutely have to sort through everything involved.  No shortcuts.  They don’t know any back story.  You have to set a complete stage, make sure you have every component there, just to get them to understand the issue.  Ever wonder why people open up to bartenders about their problems?  Well, besides the alcohol, they are a ready ear you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars in order to listen while you talk through the issues.  They are dispassionate about the story, you, and the end result and so aren’t swayed by your arguments nor are they going to sway you one way or the other unless something is really obvious.  Which it can be.  Sometimes we’re completely blind or just really ready to have a kick in our behindside.

So when something is stuck, start by talking it out.  What you’ll find is you already know the answer, it’s coded in how you’re presenting the issue.  But many times you don’t realize that until you’ve said it out loud.  Just remember, once it’s said out loud it can’t be unsaid.  Once you’ve put it out there, it takes energy to ignore it and keep searching.  It takes energy to keep the confusion going inside you.  But many people do.  The answer is rarely the key, it’s taking action once you know the answer which makes the difference between stuck in the old or moving forward into the new.  Which will you choose?  Talk it out.  Maybe the right answer will pop out.