When “knowing” isn’t enough… (you still can’t seem to make it happen)

How often have you said to yourself, “I know what I need to do, I just can’t seem to… (you can fill in the blank)

For example, one of my clients this week put it this way:

“I know I deserve to make good money in my business. I have the skills and I can even visualise it happening. But when it comes to the crunch, I just keep seeming to sabotage myself.”

Or another friend of mine recently shared:

“I know I’m worthwhile, but I just keep getting down about myself. It’s so frustrating!”

Maybe you can relate to one of these scenarios, or maybe you can think of other examples from your own life – where knowing the answer isn’t enough to solve the problem.

If knowledge is power, why does it sometimes seem to work against you?

Four types of Knowing

To understand why knowledge ain’t enough, it would be useful to take a little detour into the three – or four – types of “knowing”.

The first type of knowing, which we are most familiar with, relates to mental intelligence. It’s that logical, rational, intellectual understanding of how things work and why… We think of this as located in the mind or brain. This type of knowing is so privileged in Western Culture, that some people think it’s the only type of knowing. We’ve even developed a way to measure it: IQ.

The second type of knowing is emotional. Many people interpret the world, process information and make decisions, based less on their mental processes, and more on their feelings – an emotional or energetic sensitivity generally located in the heart area. “Follow your heart”, and “If it feels right, go for it”, reflect this kind of emotional logic. While not as widely acknowledged, emotional intelligence (and the corresponding EQ), has received recognition generally, and in business, since the term was popularised in the 1990s.

A third type of knowing, which has received even less attention and acknowledgment in Western culture is instinctual, animal, bodily knowing. You know when you just get a gut feeling? This type of processing is used successfully by many business leaders, although it is little understood and often overlooked as a form of intelligence.

Assessed through the lens of one kind of ‘knowing’, the other type rarely makes much sense.

Yet, despite our cultural biases, each type of knowing has powerful application and validity in its own right.

And there is, of course, a fourth type of knowing, even more subtle. This is the wisdom of the Soul. There is a quiet knowing which can arise, though it makes no logical sense, and may trouble the heart or go against the instincts. Still, it has propelled humans throughout the ages to make decisions and take actions in all spheres of life.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Einstein’s famous quote points to a universal truth. Usually, when we “know” something, but still can’t make it happen, it is because we know it at one level -and we have not taken the time to know it at the other levels of our being.

So usually, “I know,” means, “I think I get it intellectually”… Meanwhile, our heart, body and soul may have different ideas about the matter. As you have probably figured out, this surface-level intellectual knowing is not always that useful for actually changing behaviours or solving problems “on the ground” in our lives.

So, how do we get from “surface” knowing, to holistic understanding that we can actually take action on?

Really knowing means giving ourselves time and space to access the different ways of being with a problem.

Let’s take my client who had money issues:

Her head said she could have money, but if she took the problem to her heart, what feelings would she find?

In her case, past experiences associated with money brought up all kinds of uncomfortable emotions.

And – here’s the rub – they need to be processed in a feeling way… Emotions need us to be with them emotionally, so they can release and move on. Intellectual analysis just ain’t the same.

Because we are conditioned to suppress emotions, this is often the missing piece in finding an integrated knowing.

For my friend who kept getting down, even though his head knew he was worthwhile…

What would his instinct or his body tell him about those “down” times…

Sometimes, what are minds judge as “down” or depressed is our instinctual intelligence leading us on a journey of internal reflection and recuperation…

So, back to you – what was that thing that you thought you “knew”, you just have had trouble implementing?

Five steps to holistic understanding and integrated knowing:

  1. Get clear on the problem that your “knowing” is trying to fix.
  2. Check your mental response to this. What does your mind know? Write it down.
  3. Great, now let go of mental knowing and bring the problem to your heart. How does it feel about this issue? Take your time. Remember, you don’t have to analyse your feelings. Just feel them, with love and acceptance.
  4. Now bring awareness to your original problem and check your body. Is there tension or tightness anywhere? What’s it telling you?
  5. Finally, take some quiet time to listen to that still small voice within. In fact, your soul will speak to you through your mind, heart and body, when those channels are undistorted by mental and emotional clutter. The more you practice listening to your body and feeling what’s in your heart, with love and acceptance, the louder the deeper wisdom of your own Soul will sound. So, what is it telling you about your original problem?

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