whenever I have a problem I think in circles

**This is a re-post of an email I sent out.  However it was long and marked-up with words like “make money” so my email client didn’t like it.  Posting here so people could see it:

I don’t know how to explain this easily, so I’m going to start with a very personal example…..maybe you can relate:
Sometimes whenever I’m seeing a girl, and start “liking” her more and more…..and she likes me back…..I’ll occasionally start thinking of all these horrible situations in my head like:
–“the last text message she sent didn’t have a smiley face or exclamation mark…..is she pissed? I bet she’s playing games or being weird…”
–“what if we go to this party together and she starts making out with another guy?? I bet I would walk out and tell her I never wanna see her again…..”
I’m not an insecure guy….but these kind of weiiiirrrddd ass thought scenarios play out in my head from time to time.  And don’t lie and say you’ve never done it either!
The craziest damn thing is:  
Soon after thinking this stuff and getting all worked up…..the girl will call or text something sweet and I’ll feel all excited and giddy.  
I know none of those scenarios are very likely if things are good…..so why does the brain torture itself with this shit?
When it comes to practical things like growing a business, being better at your job, or getting out of a horrible living situation…..this same kind of negative thinking happens.
You might be in the shower, and start thinking negatively like:
–“I can’t compete with those other guys….they’re so much better than me…”
–“I’m pretty sure I might get laid off soon….then what?  What will I do?  Where will I get money?  What will I tell friends?”
–“I hate living here….but I don’t have enough money to move….and I don’t even know where to move…..and I don’t even know what the financial criteria to live somewhere else is.”
……and you’ll ask yourself these negative-based questions in the shower, or laying in bed at night, or while driving.  And it depresses the hell out of you and give you ZERO solutions. 
FIRST.) It’s normal to occasionally have weird thoughts like this….but only temporarily.  
SECOND.) You’re asking yourself shitty negative questions in your head that go nowhere.  
But don’t fret….I’m not gonna tell you the solution is to “think positive and be grateful!!!”
I’ve never been a fan of this “Just be grateful” crap.  I’ve tried being “grateful” for every damn thing I have…..but in the end simply “being grateful” doesn’t get you real solutions. 
Lemme give you a real solution…..
The way to stop this is to:
Ask constructive questions that poke your brain into thinking differently.
Apparently the trick is not finding the right ANSWER…….but finding the right QUESTIONS that will get you to the answer.  (read that one more time and let it sink in). 
There’s too many problems in life to know the answers to everything, but we can construct sets of thoughtful questions that will nudge us towards the best answer.  
(my mind was blown when I came to this realization)…..
Instead of asking your brain:
“How can I make more money?”
(this question will just spin your wheels on wacky biz ideas). 
You can instead flip the question into:
“What can I do for other people, so they WANT to give me money?”
 (this question will instead identify real ways of providing value & service to others…..which in turn will equal money).  
Instead of asking your brain:
“I wonder why he’s mad at me?”
(this question will make you start thinking about all sorts of crazy scenarios and just work you up & make the problem worse).  
You can instead flip the question into:
“If he did to me…..what I just did to him…..how would I feel??”
(this question will reverse the roles, and make you think more empathetically than selfishly.  It might also help you understand that you WERE in fact wrong, and owe someone an apology….not the other way around).  
When you flip the question around, you will get totally different answers. 
Cool huh?
But this is just ONE of many (about 10) brain hacks I’ve found that get me out of “Shitty Thinking Mode” and into constructive thoughts that give me real answers.  
I originally made a document on my desktop that outlines each of these methods….and every time I have a problem, I’ll open it and scroll through the questions to.  
I’ll apply my problem to just one or two of the brain-poking questions…..and within seconds it’ll spark thoughts and solutions in my head, and get me on the right track to solving the problem.  JUST FROM A SIMPLE DOCUMENT ON MY DESKTOP.  
But since I’m a greedy capitalist I decided to put out a small product that can be used anytime to solve problems.  
OH WAIT….let me re-word that last sentence to be more constructive!
I’ve absorbed toonnss of advice over the years that I’ve distilled down into 10 brain-hacking questions…..which “poke” my brain into finding the answer to nearly every question I have.  Now I want to share these with the world.  
I do have a document I use like this, but it’s kind of useless for most people (since it was originally meant just for me). 
I’m currently working with my assistant to make it all nice-looking and helpful, and want to know what questions you have all the time you need might want assistance with.  
It can be business stuff, personal stuff, relationship stuff….whatever.  
Can you take a quick moment to write even just ONE tough question you’ve asked yourself lately?  Just fill out the one-question form (2nd question is just there in case you wanna add comments): 

 Everyone wants ANSWERS, but the right QUESTIONS are what you need to be asking…..in order to find the best answers. 
Lemme know what’s troubling you….and I’m gonna do my best to make a quick doc you can leave on your computer desktop that will help you solve it.  
Thank you :-)
Neville – A kopywriting problem solver 
P.S.  Make sure to send me question(s) you often ask your brain.  Enter them on this form.
P.P.S.  Hope the above examples already jogged your brain into thinking A LITTLE differently already.  Just ONE tweak of a question can launch you down a whole new path…..so don’t underestimate the power of this stuff.  


Blog posted on: January 25, 2013

10 comments on “whenever I have a problem I think in circles

  1. Susan Draybuck

    Hey Nev,
    Great post! I have been revisiting some Tony Robbins videos lately and one of his main concepts is the power of questions. He basically says that the quality of your life is related to the quality of your questions. You gave some great examples. Also, since the brain is wired to provide answers to any question you ask, it is much better to ask “How can I share my talents?” versus “Why does my life suck?” Love your blog BTW. I have used your Mont Blanc pen hack a few times. SInce I own a repair shop, I find that putting the end of the refill agains a grinder for like 2 seconds is the perfect way to hack the pen. Have you found any “classier” pens that you can put the refill in beside the Pilot G2? Anyway, keep the good content rolling!

    1. Neville Post author

      Thanks Susan!

      I actually just got lazy and started using the regular G2’s again. It’s quite a nice pen as it is.

      Interesting to hear about the Tony Robbins stuff, I’ll have to check it out!

  2. Yael Grauer

    Good stuff. I filled out your form with something like “omg this person didn’t instantly email me back; did they hate what I sent them?” Nothing is ever as bad as what I imagine in my head. Anais Nin said, “we don’t see things as they are; we see things as WE are.” Apparently I’m incredibly insecure.

    Anyway, thought you might like this; very counter-intuitive:

  3. San

    I’ve been with the same woman for 10 years and we have two kids. I long for the days I would get a call or a sweet text (actually,no texts back then, just emails and calls) that would make me feel all “excited and giddy”…Just sayin’.

    1. Neville Post author

      Well that sounds depressing.

      HOWEVER, maybe she thinks the same thing?

      Often we think it’s someone else’s fault for not doing something……but often it turns out to be something WE are doing that is making the other person do-or-not-do something.

      Maybe send HER a sweet & loving message or place a cute note somewhere she’ll find it when you’re not around.

      Showing her that kind of love might make her start doing it back?

    2. Chung

      Nev’s right (again!..damn him) I have 2 kids. We’ve been together for 5 years. I used to long for those days too. THen one day i took the initiative and left her sweet notes by the kitchen… and text msges. She loves it and now I don’t feel “lack”.

      “Be the change you want to see” – someone

  4. Pingback: Yael's Variety Hour: Negative Thinking, Health Design & Objectify a Man in Tech Day - Yael Writes

  5. Eugene Hennie

    Hey Nev, how would you go about fixing your think pattern if you are creating a course?

    Can you give some more detailed example you experienced when going through the course creation process?


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