Bridging the Gap – Knowing vs. Doing

I struggle with this daily, so I thought I’d write about it today.   You’re familiar with this scenario:  You learn something new.  Maybe you read a book that had good ideas, solutions to a problem you have.  Maybe you attended a lecture, a seminar or even a counseling session where the problem is identified, a solution that seems to fit the problem well is reached and in your gut it feels right.   This is the answer you’ve been looking for.

Then nothing happens.  Probably because the behavior, whether mental, physical or emotional, is controlled by habit and as we all know too well, breaking habits isn’t easy.  It takes focused work.  And focused anything these days doesn’t some easily.

Still, there’s a connection between knowing something, and integrating that knowledge into behavior, that seems a little magical to me and I can’t quite figure it out.   One common wisdom that I believe in, because I think it works, says that as soon as you learn something you should immediately go teach it to someone else.   While there are obviously benefits from helping others, I think the real point of that advice is that it helps integrate the knowledge into our psyche, or being, in a way that doesn’t seem to occur otherwise.

So is that all there is to it?   Is that the bridge between knowing and doing on a regular basis so that the new knowledge becomes part of our regular behavior?   Or is the real solution to embark on a habit change journey that takes extended concentration, focus, effort and discipline, which frankly most of us don’t have.

Science has shown us recently that there’s no question we can change.   Studies in neural plasticity appear to have proven that we can change the anatomy of our brain, literally, by changing the way we think.   If that’s true and I believe it’s clear now that it is, then we have the capacity to take new knowledge (“knowing”) and turn it into the more beneficial result of doing.

But sometimes we change without all the focused effort and mental energy, don’t we?  Doesn’t the light bulb just go off sometimes, the switch gets flipped and we immediately engage in a new behavior because it’s clear that it’s the right thing to do?   So why does that happen sometimes, but not others?

I’d love to know what you think.

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