All of Teach's Comments + Replies

As a uni student just finishing the second of what may be six years, I think I'm a ways away from having a manager or boss to go to for this (and most of my work/income is not in any kind of office/workplace).

Which, as a matter of fact, I have been doing. But when I started learning guitar, I did not already know to ask "what exercises can I do to strengthen my hand so I can play barre chords better". I started with "where do I begin", and went from there. As I played more and more, I begun to see the things I needed to know in order to improve. The same follows here.

I wouldn't even know where to start in looking for a mentor. Any suggestions?

Not easy to do, necessarily, but managers are often both incentivized and well-positioned to do this since your overall workplace performance matters to them and they can observe you interact with others. This is where I got the most mentoring.

The reason I was not so specific is because my two overarching problems are themselves very wide: (1) having less than optimal impulse control resulting in sometimes making poor social decisions without prior thought and control, and (2) not possessing sufficient data on social knowledge/skills to know what to do in a variety of situations.

I am not yet at a stage where I could say exactly what it is that I need to learn, so I am looking for a wide variety of avenues to start down. Once I've made a solid start, I will be able to actually see the specific questions.

Well, someone who never learned music surely doesn't have enough knowledge/skills on what to do in a band, and will perform terribly on stage. Their problems, as you say, are wide. And yet, if such a person goes around asking "where do I start learning music", I just know that they're not that into the whole idea. If they were, they would've picked up a guitar and be playing already.

I'm definitely willing to sift through things in the PUA community to give myself some grounding in what to go ahead and do, can you give me any suggestions of where to start looking?

When I say I can't stimulate visual thinking, I more mean the problem solving element - I can construct visual thoughts in my mind with some effort, but I couldn't then work through those visualisations as a primary tool to solve problems. I'm curious as to how that works - do people who do this have a better ability to retain a visualisation in their short term memory, whether innate or practiced? Is there more to it than that?

1Brad Williamson3y
I'm a visual thinker, and I'd say it's both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, because, based on my own personal experience, my brain projects a million images per moment, each with their own story, each colliding into the other to fuel a very abstract form of thinking: In other words: the chaos of criss-crossing communications can be be great for creative problem solving/innovating. Curse, because, again, you have a million thoughts each moment; but, you're only human—you can only process so many at a time. This causes you to forget a lot of important stuff; stuff you really wanted to remember, but can't, as a result of distractions or new thoughts trampling over it. To be an effective visual thinker, you must always have on hand something to take notes with. Also, you've gotta have your ears listening out for your intuition's voice. I find that when I'm paying close attention to it, it makes sense of what my mind is trying to paint for me. It tells me the words I can use to describe it. Then that notepad, or voice recorder comes out and I make a record of it before I imagine something else that'll suplex it into the ether. Oh, and a fun fact: If you wanna know if the person you're talking to is a visual thinker, see if they're staring out into the distance or closing their eyes while they're talking. That's a sign that they're trying to communicate something important to them to you, and they don't want the friendly gesture of looking you in your eyes to distract their train of thought.
We know from IQ tests that working memory abilities vary. Those with aphantasia can't visualize at all, while others report that not only can they visualize a tiger, they can count its stripes. My visualizations are not that stable. The number of stripes would probably change as I attempt to count them. But visual thinking can be improved with practice, at least in my own experience. Things that took a lot of effort to visualize the first time become simple recall after that. The bigger your bag of tricks, the more likely you can find one that applies to a novel situation. Visualizations need not be static images. They can have motion as well. I can rotate simple 3-D shapes in my mind, for example. Rotating a cube is pretty easy. I can even do an icosahedron, though that one took some practice. But counting the leaves on a tree would be too difficult, never mind rotating the tree without changing (or glossing over) their number. There are limits to the resolution. You can also do transformations other than rotations, like scales, shears, extrusions, etc. These visualizations are useful in computer graphics and in topology. In the case of mathematics, I find visualization most useful for generating examples, especially counterexamples. Using the visual query process I described, one can try to query for a shape that meets certain constraints. Sometimes one example (or counterexample) is all it takes to prove a theorem. Sometimes the query produces the example, but sometimes it fails to meet all the constraints and I have to query that part again. Pointing out the part that failed a constraint can bring more examples to mind. You have to give these mathematical objects a visual form to gain the benefits of visual thinking, but there are many morphisms one might try. Besides single examples, you might also be able to enumerate a set of them, or notice a pattern that can be repeated to infinity. I can generate candidate visualizations much faster in my head than I ca

So I find I can force myself to visualise that but it would be consistently born of the concept thought first, like "oh that's a line perpendicular to the line between X and y" and then I can paint the graph in my mind. But I don't need to - I can think the concept and then apply it to paper without visualisation and I tend to find that easier.

What intrigues me precisely is visual thinking for problem solving - ie a student who can easily perform arithmetic between graphs by visualising the transformations in their mind rather than doing calculations on paper.

First of all, if you can solve it without visualization, I think that this is preferable, precisely because it is faster. There is no need to force oneself to visualize everything. To visualize something, you need to create a map from the formal domain you are studying to visual transformations. In other words, you need to understand "what the formula" mean (or at least one way of looking at them). Do you know what it means visually to multiply one complex number to another? If you don't, you will be stuck doing calculations. If you do, then you can visualize it and quickly come up with the solution. From my experience, some people naturally tend towards visual thinking, while others don't. But if you consistently try to apply it, it will become natural at some point (it may take some time, don't give up prematurely). One area where a lot of visual thinking is necessary, but that is relatively easy to visualize, is graph theory. Try to prove that a (connected undirected) graph has an Eulerian cycle (i.e. a cycle that contains every edge exactly once) if and only if all of its vertices have even degree.