This paraphrase of an EM Forster quote is one of my favorite questions, because it points to the importance and value of getting thoughts out of your head and into word form. It is not until we are forced to articulate our ideas that they take real shape and we can gain clarity around what our thoughts are really about.
I am a huge advocate of journaling, and have been doing it regularly for over two decades. It has allowed me to process through emotions, frustrations, blocks, and to even brainstorm and plan strategically. So many of the exercises I do as a coach require identifying and generating current and new thoughts – and recording them. If you are more visual, mind mapping is a useful technique for organizing ideas in a productive way.
Another approach I use a lot is dialogue. I sit down with a friend, or my coach, and deeply and honestly talk through what I’m thinking. It is particularly important for the person to be someone trustworthy and who has skill in listening and asking good questions. Working with a coach is one of the most powerful relationships out there for creating this experience. However you choose to approach this, just having someone to share with can make a huge difference.
Have you ever noticed that when you get something out of your head (off your shoulders/chest), you often gain insight or clarity? You may even feel better – having unburdened yourself, or released the emotional charge. More often than not, dialogue with yourself (journaling or doing an exercise) or with others will unlock new ideas and questions – providing you an opening that wasn’t available before when you were turning the thoughts over and over and over again (ad nauseum) in your head.