Brainstorming is a good way of revealing the hidden needs that are manifesting themselves as problems. As we have asserted in other sections, it is not enough to treat the symptoms. You must also find out why you have the problem in the first place; you need to interpret the body's messages.
Start by asking yourself not Why?" but "What can I learn from this . . . whatever it is?" "Why?" questions often lead us to a dead end, as there are rarely clear answers to anything. So instead of "Why do I have a cold now?" or "Why did I sprain my ankle?" try asking: "What is this cold telling me now?" Or "What is this sprained ankle doing for me?" Proceed from there. Answers may generate new questions - answer them. But keep in mind that there will be a tendency to move into familiar territory by answering in such a way as to reinforce self-hatred or a sense of helplessness. Stay aware of this, and look instead for more information, rather than more judgment.
Questions can be repeated until any lead is exhausted:
Q. What can I learn from my current eating patterns?
A. When I overeat I have less energy.
Q. What have I learned about having diminished energy, specifically?
A. My thinking gets cloudy. My enthusiasm dwindles. I want to take a nap and skip my work.
Q. What would I like my eating patterns to encourage?
A. . . .
Once you've brainstormed and set the answers aside for a while, review the material; this may furnish you with valuable clues to your real needs and wants. Don't neglect to use material from your dreams, too. With a little practice and attention (see Wellness and Transcending), these nightly brainstorms are readily available for your conscious use. Brainstorming is a powerful way of practicing self-responsibility and taking charge of your life.
The ideas generated from brainstorming lend themselves well to a form of organizing called mindmapping - a clustering of ideas on paper in two dimensions (instead of the usual one-dimensional linear style of outlining). A mindmap often looks like groups of circles, each representing an idea, with lines connecting them to show their various relationships. For more information on mindmapping, see Tony Buzan's Use Both Sides of Your Brain.