What An LSD Trip Taught Me About Problem Solving

When I was a teenager some friends and I experimented with LSD.

When you’re a small town boy, bored out of your mind and your buddy offers you the opportunity to interact with the fabric of the Universe, you take it.

So we tried it. And then we tried it again… and again. We played with the stuff regularly for a period of about 6–12 months.

During one particularly heavy trip we were standing at opposite ends of a hallway, staring at each other. This went on for several minutes (or was it hours? or weeks?). At one point I noticed that I was no longer looking at him, I was looking at me, through his eyes.

Afterwards, we both shared the same story – and to this day I’m sure that for a moment our minds or souls or somethingswitched places.

Flash forward several years.

Many years later I was watching Celebrity Rehab, a reality show starring Dr. Drew Pinsky. On the show, celebrities check into rehab and go through drug and alcohol treatment live on camera.

In one episode Dr. Drew is dealing with a particularly insane patient (a well-known actor) who is having an anxiety attack or meltdown of some kind.

Instead of telling his patient to calm down, (which would only make matters worse ) Dr. Drew said this (I paraphrase)

Dr. Drew:You’re an actor right?
Dr. Drew: “Ok, then I want you to act like you’re a normal person right now”
Actor: “What?”
Dr. Drew: “Using your acting abilities, I want you to act like a character who is sane”

Almost immediately the panicked actor calmed down and started talking through his issues. Dr. Drew had helped his patient temporarily become someone else, a sane person, who could better deal with the problem.

It is one of the most masterful Jedi Mind Tricks I have ever seen in my life.

Present Day

These days I’m involved in a lot of different things. I do online marketing, work out religiously, write music and share ideas on my blog. Each one of these areas of my life comes with a unique set of problems.

  • Which traffic sources and offers should I focus on?
  • Which workout routine should I use?
  • What should the chorus of this song be?
  • What should my next blog post be about?

There are times when I can’t deal with a problem, or can’t decide what to do next. One of the ways I get past these roadblocks is by using a combination of my LSD experience and Dr. Drew’s tactic on myself.

When I can’t figure something out I take a moment and “become someone” who can.

– – –

My goal today is to share this technique with you so that you can use it if you feel like you’re unable to make a decision or accomplish a goal.

The process is very simple and doesn’t require Dr. Drew or LSD. All it takes is a few minutes and a little imagination.

Here’s what I do when I feel stuck:

  • I stop what I’m doing
  • I close my eyes
  • When I open my eyes, I imagine I am someone else
  • I look at the problem through their eyes
  • I solve it the way they would solve it

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “step into someone else’s shoes”. Well, this is exactly what you do. If you can’t solve a problem, step into the shoes of someone who can.

Here are a few examples of how you can use it:

  1. Affiliate Marketing: The next time you’re stuck on a new campaign, imagine you’re Charles Ngo. He’s documented his entire launch sequence on his website. He’s got systems on top of systems. What would he do first?
  2. Campaign Angles: Before you write you next headline and copy for an ad, switch minds with Don Draper. Would he kick his feet up on the desk? How badass would his angle be? (Ok I know Don Draper is a fictional character but it still works)
  3. Working Out: If you’re at the gym and can’t get motivated to lift weight, put on your C.T. Fletcher shoes. What does C.T.’s energy feel like? Would he skip going to the gym today? How intense would he be?
  4. Writing a Song: Can’t think of an idea for the chorus of your new song? Step into the mind of John Lennon. What would he do now? What word would he write next?
  5. Life Problems: When life gets you down, turn yourself into Tony Robbins. Stand up and do whatever you think he would do next. My guess is he would not get back in bed,  he’d probably start doing jumping jacks and yelling “I CAN DO THIS!”.

Choose Your Own Adventure

If the people I’ve listed above don’t work for you, choose someone who does. This is totally a choose your own adventure kind of idea. Use whoever you think could handle the problem you’re having trouble with.

Example thought script: I’m having a hard time with ___________. But _______________ could do it, so what would he/she do next?

You can use public figures, actors, musicians, a friend, or your mom. “Step into the shoes” of the person that can get the job done and then… get the job done.

It helps if you really let yourself get into it and let yourself slip into the mindset of someone else. Feel the way they would feel in their skin. Imagine you’re literally looking out at the world through their eyes.


You don’t have to have an LSD-induced out of body experience to get the benefits of looking at your problem through someone else’s eyes.

If you can't solve a problem, “step into the shoes” of someone who can . Then do whatever they would do next.

“Stepping into shoes” helps you access parts of your mind that was previously unreachable. It allows you to solve problems that you thought were sunsolvable. It allows you to see things from a different perspective and come up with ideas you may have never thought of.

It’s fast, free and fun… (and no flashbacks)

Give it a try today:

  1. Pick something you’re currently struggling with
  2. Think of someone else who could solve the problem
  3. Step into their shoes and do whatever they would do next
  • http://www.telephone-prospector.biz Chris

    Very insightful post, Malan and some nice tips there.

    From a personal perspective, from 2008 to the end of 2013, I suffered crippling panic attacks – I literally couldn’t get out of the house – what started as panic attacks had turned into agoraphobia. However, in the summer of this year, I was able to go on holiday to a place over 300 miles away with no problems at all.

    Whilst it wasn’t as a result of the above process, it was certainly due to a change of mindset.

    Best of all, during the anxiety years, I didn’t once take any prescribed medicine – I was able to beat it eventually on my own.

    To everyone who reads this:

    Please do not understand the power of your mind.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey Chris, I get it man. I am accused of being a hermit often. glad you beat it on your own and congrats on the 300 mile trip.

      • http://www.telephone-prospector.biz Chris

        Thanks, Malan.

        Way back in 1999, when I was toying with becoming a monk (really!) I had the privilege of spending a day in a monastery with some Cistercian monks.

        Despite the fact they didn’t spend time in the ‘outside world’ they were the kindest and most insightful people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

        A good example that being a hermit can be a good thing.

        • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

          a monk? nice! I have a few friends that regularly go to monasteries for a week or 2 of silence. To write, relax or just to get away. They rent rooms like hotels.

    • Jon

      Good one Chris. I used to be a counsellor treating phobias and the essence of the techniques involved people ‘stepping out’ of themselves and imagining the phobic experience from an observer’s perspective instead of the participant’s. So their brain then processed the memories/experiences through their Visual brain system instead of their Feelings system. Sounds like you’ve done something similar by yourself 🙂 Very nice.

  • Dan Gempesaw

    There was a time where I understood what “these” is all about. I remember zooming out and saw myself beyond my ego. I kept going though until I ended up seeing Earth from space. It was beautiful I thought. Well it really is.

    I reflected upon that experience and realized that whatever is going on inside the planet, be it a hurricane that’s about to kill thousands, to what Hitler did, to a dog playing on grass or to whatever it is I am experiencing at the moment.. it’s all part of that beautiful image. I could call it art and art needs no judgement.

    Was never the same since 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Dan – i love what you just said. that’s awesome… but what’s “these”

      • Dan Gempesaw

        Imagine me wide eyed, outstretching my arms and saying “all these”. Subjectively it’s my life or my reality. I still have a little hippie in me hehe. Just happy to share

        • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

          haha ok now that i have a little context, i get it. awesome.

    • Ctrtard

      I reflected upon that experience and realized that whatever is going on inside the planet, be it thousands of poor starving Africans dying in slow agony from Ebola, to the recent innocent journalists brutally beheaded in front of the entire world by religious extremist psychopaths… it’s all part of that beautiful image. I could call it art and art needs no judgement.

      Totally bro. It’s *all* “art”.

      • Dan Gempesaw

        apologies if i offended you.

  • fooder

    Great post man. What I do is whenever I have some problems that need solving, I smoke a little bit of weed and mind map the shit out of my problems. After 15 minutes I usually have a visual overview of every problem mapped out with multiple solutions and action plans. When I’m no longer high I look at it again and take action on my plans. I do this weekly or whenever something is bogging me down and it works really well for me.

    Obviously you can do it without any mind altering substances, but what I find is it forces you to view things from multiple perspectives, which is the key imo

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey whatever works for you my man.

  • craigm

    I do something similar but apply it to things I shouldn’t be doing, if I felt tempted to piss away half a day on a game or some bullshit I’d ask myself before,

    “would x person do this?”

    Works a treat.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah – perfecto

  • Lucia

    “If you can’t solve a problem, step into the shoes of someone who can.” This is one of the most incredible and simple and inspiring ideas |I’ve ever heard. Keep sharing your ideas, they are great. It’s like turning the light on in someone else’s head. Thanks, Malan.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Good to hear Lucia – this is one I’ve kept to myself for a long time, why not give it away?

  • Richard

    Is LSD some sort of a drug?

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      lol Richard, Google is your friend.

  • Petre Veluda

    Cool technique! Thanks for sharing it with us. Nice one on how to solve problems in Affiliate Marketing, “think about what Charles would do” :)! Nice story anyway.

    I was going to ask, when you feel like sharing that as well. What’s your weekly gym routine?

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Go here: http://www.malandarras.com/intermittent-fasting-and-leangains-transformation-with-photos and search for the words “My Exact Leangains Workout” – it’s about 3/4 way down the page

      • Petre Veluda

        Oh great. I missed this. I’ll read it all anyway. I have the picture. September 1st 2014. I plan a year of workout and experimenting. I’m very similar to your first photo so not really trying to loose weight but actually gain some.

        What I discovered is that with our mentality is not enough to be satisfied with what we have. I mean we have nice bodies right? Not fast, rather athletic, they look good with clothes on but you can always do better. Not saying we should aim for Arnold physique 🙂 but be the best we can be and be proud of our evolution.

        You feel different after working to gain something and also you can show the world that is possible, it takes time, determination and consistency but it’s definitely possible to get to where you want to be.

  • Hammad

    Interesting concept Malan. I wonder why this works though.

    When you step into someone else’s shoes, you dont get their perspective, experience knowledge etc. All you can imagine is having all that. Maybe its the imagined confidence that gives one the ability to act better.

  • LawrenceTwo

    Very insightful