Human Mind

Abstract Thinking: Growing Your Mind Power

Enhance your brain's ability to grasp hard-to-understand concepts and regain your imagination power with well-designed abstract thinking exercises.

Abstract thinking is the level of thinking which pertains to extraordinary mental abilities—most importantly, to analyze conceptual ideas, hypothetical future events, and situations. Abstract thinking allows an individual to examine details conceptually.

Abstract thinking skills allow creating fresh, original ideas, shaping workable solutions to complicated matters, and deepening understanding of complex concepts. While some individuals tend to be more efficient at generating abstract ideas and understanding abstract concepts, there is a set of powerful ways that help you to become a better conceptual thinker.

Being capable of examining the details conceptually means you can predict how the situation will develop. It also helps to understand how you can change the course of action and develop a scenario that would bring the most favorable outcomes. In addition, abstract perception is tightly connected with our fantasy and the brain's ability to imagine. Thus, targeting abstract thinking, there is a chance to boost your memory, cognitive skills, problem-solving, reasoning, and other process-oriented mental activities.

Discover What is Abstract Thinking and its Key Problem

Information processing and synthesizing, assessing potential results, gaining new insights, and forecasting future events would be much more straightforward for individuals with an abstract mind. It means that one is able to view and perceive concepts, ideas, objects, and even the surrounding world beyond what is observed physically. If you have strong and evoked imagination, initiating concepts and ideas not presented to our senses should not bring any trouble.

However, sometimes, it can be challenging for your brain. One of the barriers to the abstract analysis of things is considered blind mind's eye, also known as aphantasia. It stands to the inability to form mental images. It is a rare phenomenon but still can prevent one from visualizing and picturing ideas with the mind's eye. To bring back brain potential to visualize and think abstractly, you can build a mind-boosting strategy and add abstract thinking exercises to it. But first, let's take a quick look at some examples of when we may use abstract analysis and how it can benefit us.

Examples of Abstract Thinking and Reasoning

Using metaphors

Abstract thinking is stimulated when we use metaphors. These are speech figures that shouldn't be understood literally. When processing metaphors, our mind should not rely on concrete facts and physical examples. It is useful for interpreting literature, analyzing poetry, and dealing with any kind of hypothetical or symbolic ideas applied in different art forms. Metaphorical expressions trigger our imagination, cultivate creativity, allow linking unrelated things. Practicing metaphor creations is also can be a foundation for hyperphantasia and improvement of extremely vivid visualization. It, in turn, activates our problem-solving skills since even the most complex issue can be viewed from a completely different perspective.


Thinking about things and situations that don't actually exist or are not available in the environment at the moment is a symbolic type of thinking and one of the abstract thinking examples. Thus, symbols in literature are not direct explanations that hint at something else, usually something conceptual. In art, it is completely opposite to naturalism. So it is not based on accurate descriptions of details but rather on representing beliefs and ideas through abstracts and metaphorical images.


Understanding one's cognitive processes, it is possible to experience more in control of thoughts and ideas generation. For example, a divergent type of thinking requires an abstract approach to be capable of controlling our spontaneous ideas shaping. Moreover, it is how we can generate good judgments, get our priorities straight, and smartly manage decision-making processes.

Abstract vs. concrete thinking

Individuals capable of thinking abstractly have a broader and boundless understanding of ideas and information. Focusing only on factual data and details might mean that creativity is at low levels and no imagination is involved in life experience. Abstract thinkers, unlike concrete thinkers, activate their phantasy. Those individuals who think in a tangible way are more rational and always well-reasoned. However, they rely only on actual things and on information obtained through human senses. There is no room for creative visualization of non-existing objects and concepts.

The most beneficial strategy for having a more agile mind and being quick-witted is to combine these two types of thinking. The reason is that, non-thinking beyond facts, it would be hard to find space for creativity in your mind. Relying only on imagination, you may fall into the trap of derealization, being completely detached from real surroundings. Losing a sense of reality is a challenge for people with an abstract style of thinking, while interpreting even symbolism literally can bring trouble to concrete thinkers. Balance, constant control of reasoning processes, as well as metacognition are probably something that can strengthen your brainpower.

How to Boost Abstract Thinking: Proven Exercises and Tips

An involuntary sense of a more holistic picture, as well as broad vision is an outcome of powerful abstract thinking. It can be gained if you will train to generate abstract thoughts. A set of exercises and a vast range of mental activities assist in growing your skills, such as information synthesizing, analyzing things beyond actual facts, and critical type of reasoning. It can free you from limits and help to hurdle creativity barriers.

First of all, it is recommended to expose yourself to completely new experiences and ideas regularly. For example, you can learn about some new cultures. Such a type of fresh knowledge can help you to understand diversity, gain new perspectives, reshape your worldview, and even avoid stifling ambition. Moreover, interacting with such type of information allows getting rid of biases and prejudice, thinking more freely, and minimizing stereotype.

Confronting the issue of poor conceptual reasoning, you may include seeking a few efficient solutions to a single problem. Don't be afraid of experiments and be brave with your ideas. You must push yourself out of your comfort zone. Because, sometimes, the right solution and choices are outside the zone where you feel an enhanced sense of security. Think out of the box; however, still, try to avoid miring in unnecessary details but focus on more important things.

Puzzles are also among the top abstract thinking exercises that allow perceiving the task from different angles. Solving puzzles, your brain will turn on creativity and work through several strategies before discovering the answer that fits a particular task. Moreover, waning with age, such skills as attention to detail, visual-spatial reasoning, and memorization of complex information will be restored if you will incorporate puzzles into your daily schedule.  

When abstract thinking can harm

Focusing on conceptual ideas and imagination rather than on the natural world and things can sometimes be harmful. For example, some people can habitually generate the worst course of action. With such a pessimistic mindset and wrong attitudes, there is a risk of being stuck with negative thoughts. Usually, negative cognitions may produce a spectrum of poor emotions. And an individual will feel worthless and powerless, lose motivation and inspiration, and have low energy levels. So even applying skills of thinking abstractly, keep your mind, imagination, and cognitive processes in total control. It allows shielding yourself from negative scenarios and setting yourself up for success.

Abstract reasoning in education

The abstract analysis provides deep educational experiences and facilitates memorization. In addition, with upgraded abilities to think abstractly, it would be easier to imagine complex ideas. This is how you can attain impressive academic results. Making more well-informed choices and decisions is another skill you can hone if practicing abstract thinking exercises. Moreover, it allows diving into detail beyond standard perception and coming up with a creative and out-of-the-ordinary solution.


Is abstract reasoning easy?

Being a conceptual thinker means evoking a higher level of thinking since conceptualizing and visualizing require strong focus and enhanced creativity. Those who struggle with poor abstract analyzing must detect the reason and develop a brain-boosting technique for its strengthening.  

What is the difference between logical reasoning and abstract reasoning?

Reasoning based on our logic is contingent on concrete data and validity principles. Reasoning abstractly is the type of logical thinking but the act of analyzing events, problems, concepts, etc., involves using ideas that are not related to concrete and physical things.

What test measures abstract reasoning skills?

There is a set of tests to assess your capability of thinking abstractly. Thus, you can try tackling a range of types of puzzles to challenge your brain or deal with gamified tests available online.

Alex Ruzhytskyi

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