I absolutely love a good analogy.

Probably to the point of over-using them, to be honest, but I can’t help it. I like looking at things from more than one angle, more than one point of view. Finding a good analogy for a situation helps me do that.

“Spatial reasoning” is the ability to envision objects in three dimensions, even when you can’t see the whole object. So if you can look at a two-dimensional picture of a three-dimensional object and rotate it in your mind and correctly imagine what it looks like from all sides, you’re good at spatial reasoning. (Curious about this, by the way? Have a test!)

Analogies are like that, but for ideas. When presented with a situation, especially one that I’m trying to explain to someone else, I like to see if I can turn it around in three dimensions. Find a way of looking at it that unlocks different comparisons, because then new solutions might present themselves.

No situation is perfectly, 100% analogous to another. But especially if you’re feeling stuck, finding a different way to describe the situation can be a great spark for creativity. You might not know how to solve your original problem, but if you can compare it to a very similar problem and solve that, you might be able to turn that solution into something similar to your original issue.

Analogies can also be a great way to remove excess emotional bias from the equation. Sometimes we can’t find solutions because we’re too close to a problem, or we’re too emotionally invested in a particular way of looking at it. Creating an analogy that features the same fundamental problem but is “emotionally neutral” can help you realize that you knew the right answer all along, but it was difficult to admit.

Looking at my problems in three dimensions helps me solve them. It might not work for everyone, but I think anything that gives you a wider view of the world is a good idea!

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