I’m usually quick to sprout advice, especially through chat messaging and social media. If you ask a question, I’m often thrilled and eager to give an answer. It’s how I operate, and why I’ve stepped into a coaching and consulting type of role. I have wisdoms and they desire sharing and I desire them shared 😛
But through this process, I’ve gained another wisdom. It’s that:
words don’t teach
I can attest to this personally. For the vast majority of my life, I have been a self-help junkie. If there was any book or course that would better me, I was all in. Whether it was improving my programming skills, learning to play chess, teaching English, life management, greater spiritual awareness, you name it, I quite possibly have the certificate or the book or the knowledge. On the other hand, I really suck at academics. I, like the vast majority of – if not all – humans, learn experientially. I learned programming by programming. I learned chess by playing chess.
And I’ve grown in my relationships and improved my mindset and gained wisdom points all through practical experience.
I can pick up a book like “The Big Leap” which I read about three years ago and find chunks of passages that made so much sense at the time and still make sense but that I’ve all but forgotten between that initial reading and now. Because words on their own might be inspiring and trigger those “ahas” in the moment, but, a year later, if I hadn’t made a regular practice to experience what those words described, the teaching does not stay.
I’ve found this truth in my own writings too. There are brilliant pieces that I’ve written either to myself or to others which hold such gems. I read them today and think “Wow, I was so wise back then!”, as I practice the opposite of my own words in my life now.
The crux of this is if I apply what I read, I am most likely to learn. If I merely read it, the knowledge and wisdom is soon forgotten.
In more recent times, I’ve taken to listening to more audio than reading (in terms of self-help type of content) so that I can hit the repeat play option on concepts I want to hold on to. The more I hear the concept, the sooner I start applying, and the more likely it becomes an experience, which is what sticks.
I’ve been doing this on automatic though. I’ve heard the “words don’t teach” term before particularly from Abraham / Hicks material, but I didn’t think too much more on it until recently. Because now I’ve become more aware of how the teachings I share with others are often taken with great excitement and agreement, only to be shelved and forgotten a few days or even hours later. I’ve found this mostly in the corporate world where I’m a bit of an abnormality with my more spiritual concepts, but it also happens in day-to-day interactions.
I’ve been noting the questions posed on social media, where the OPs generally want direct quick-fix answers. And I realised today in answering somebody that what I could say in a comment post was such as small piece of the overall answer. It would be impossible to provide meaningful guidance just in words, and in just one post. This needed to be an ongoing conversation, which could be expanded into practical applications.
And this is the case for most on-the-fly coachings that I jump into. I’m still figuring out how to better respond in a way that can extend the conversation (if the OP actually wants to go into it) instead of single-serving answers which don’t give the full teaching.
While I’m figuring that out, I want to put out there that the proverbial rabbit hole always goes deeper. Don’t expect that the answers you get are the end of it. The words you hear or read are only the beginning of another thread. They serve to inspire you into an experience, and into your next step which will lead to another step and another and another. And sometimes you need to hear or read the same words over until they sink in or lead you further down that path of learning. Often, it’s about practice until the learning is part of you.
Nobody learned to ride a bike by just reading or watching how it was done. This is the same for everything in life. You don’t get better at managing your money by just reading blog posts on money. You don’t get better at your relationships by just reading up on relationships. You don’t get better at anything in life by just gathering information.
Like I discovered throughout my life, the books guided me but nothing would have stuck had I not applied what I was reading. So keep applying what you’re learning, and do so from the get go. You can only get better with practice.
The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.
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