How do we know what we “know?” That question was asked in a whitepaper designed to bring to light evidence of positive transformation in the 21st century global community. A prestigious university in Brussels founded a research center with the aim of integrating worldviews. It describes worldview as having 7 components. For this article we’ll consider one, knowledge, and how it is gained and transforms into personal truth.
Sometimes what we are told contradicts our experience and our store of information; otherwise known as what we know. This contradiction can be liberating or limiting.
Say you are my coaching client. You express a desire to change or transform some aspect of your life. I might encourage you by saying, “you can create anything you want for your life including a perfect partner, (notice I did not say perfect person with whom to partner), a better job, better health. If you have tried and “failed” to create those things before then your worldview-what you know– would discredit mine because of your experience. Your reptilian brain will automatically say, “not possible, been there, struggled, not going to try that again; I know it doesn’t work.” Your brain is protecting you. It knows that struggle and the hard work of change is not comfortable. Your brain wants you to enjoy the cozy life of couch potato whose eulogy will read, “died comfortable, potential intact.”
What we know, or conclude, is a soup of what we have read, heard, experienced, and what we want to believe is true. From this soup of knowing springs thoughts; lots of them. Our brains undergo physical change in response to our thoughts. Did you get that? Go back and read that last sentence. Our thoughts and especially our strong beliefs leave deep impressions on our gray matter and we become less responsive to new ideas that don’t fit the grooves we’ve created. To quote The Institute of Neotic Science’s 2007 Shift Report, “The longer that belief has crystallized, the more difficult it is to reshape it.” But there is a positive side. Engaging in activities that produce different thoughts and emotions and repeating them, makes it easier to experience and sustain these new ways of doing and being.
Now what? Well in order to change our worldview of what’s possible for our lives we must read, engage in, and surround ourselves with the kind of knowledge that will allow our brains to form the grooves of the groove-a-liscious life we dream of.
How? Feed your mind.
Let’s use the example of the Big Decision to lose 20 pounds. “I’m going to lose 20 pounds” we say. That’s good, it’s called intention. What follows often looks like this; buy new diet book, read 1 chapter, skim many pages, abandon book on bed table. End of weight loss program.
What’s happened here is that we did nothing to re-groove our brains and replace what we “know”-“I never succeed in losing weight”-with something new-“I can lose these 20 pounds because I’m feeding my brain and creating new grooves.”
Some tell everyone they know, sort of hoping for accountability. Looking for accountability from people who start and stop, jump on and off the wagon of whatever we’ve given up this week, and have similar truths about what’s possible are not your best ally in the war on weight, debt, or whatever.
Listen to this. We humans are hard wired for cooperation and coordination. It’s a function of “social glue.” Researchers at Rutgers University have shown that our tendency to mimic one another is so strong that it takes a special effort not to do so. Are you with me here? Just being around people who are constantly stuck but talk about changing is enough to pull you into that quicksand.
It’s time to take stock of your environmental pantry. What and who are you surrounded by? What are you feeding your mind as you work at creating something new for yourself? If part of what we know comes from reading and engaging in activities what are you reading? Would it make sense to feed your mind some works of success? How about engaging in something you’ve never done using experts in that field as role models?
Here is a plan for expanding what you know so you can know that anything is possible. Any new way of being requires 3 things: intention, attention, and repetition or consistent action. State what it is you want. Remember, some of what we “know” we know because we want to believe that it’s true. So believe that you can come to know how to do or have your something. An intention could be, I live a healthy lifestyle. Write it down. Put it where you can see it and keep it in a card in your wallet or in your car and look at it every day, throughout the day. Your in-tention needs a-ttention. The attention or awareness of that intention requires that you take action that supports it or you’ll stay a spud. Surround yourself with strong role models and feed yourself information that creates new grooves in your brain.
What are you listening to in the car? Mindless radio with commercials and junk gossip? Why not check out one of the online audio book resources like www.audiobooks.com or www.audible.com? These sites are like Netflix for book lovers who don’t always have time to read. Sound is one of the most powerful energetic “foods” we take in; both negative and positive in effect. How long can you resist a song with a great beat before at least tapping along?(In my case it’s usually a full blown grocery aisle boogie.) And how many times have you wanted to throw a radio out the window when something is a-tonal or heavy? Sound affects us so watch what you absorb.
Ok that last of the trio is repetition or consistent action. How long does it take a professional cellist to master the complexity of sound which lies within the wood? How many shots did Michael Jordan reportedly take while perfecting the free throw? Does one steamed vegetable meal a week create extreme health? Long, thousands and no! If you are going to create something new for your life and it’s outside your comfort zone it will take repetition, consistent action, and attention to your intention to take you there. I’ll leave you with a quote from Van Gogh, a master by anyone’s measure. He said, “Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of things brought together.” Gather your series of things and create something great for yourself. And remember, groove-a-licious living comes when you know you can create something great because you have.