It’s been said that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
Perhaps it’s wiser to first inquire: Does that “old dog” want to learn anything new?
Or is he content believing that he’s only what he currently thinks he is?
The Four Stages of Learning
“What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know”
“What You Know You Don’t Know”
“What You Know You Know”
“What You Don’t Know You Know”
What most consciously experience as their reality is represented above by Stages 2 and 3 (“what you presently know”).
In contrast, Stages 1 and 4 are within the unconscious realm of “what you presently don’t know.”
This scene from the film Amadeus is a comical metaphor for “Stage 1 and 4” (Mozart) VS. “Stages 2 and 3” (Saliere):
Stage 1 is the area you’re in when authentic learning begins.
“Until you are willing to be confused about what you already know, what you know will never grow bigger, better, or more useful.”
—Milton Erickson MD
And Stage 4 is the area that contains everything you’ve ever learned (that you’re presently not conscious of).
Have you ever stopped to wonder just how much you’ve learned in your life? The resources you forgot about.
All the moments you’ve quietly loved. The times you’ve shown courage and did the right thing with no concern of the consequence. That day you felt powerfully aligned with your deeper self and noticed your conditioned behavior.
“Your unconscious mind knows a lot more than you do.”
—Milton Erickson MD
Intelligence VS Behavior
Why does one do what they do?
Most likely, it’s because they learned to do it.
Through repetition, their behavior was reinforced until it became “automatic”, which means they’re now unconsciously motivated to do it (without conscious awareness).
This is why all effective change involves working with the unconscious mind.
Your conscious mind is aware of the new behavior you desire to achieve. Yet, largely outside your awareness, your unconscious mind is running the behavior you’re actually doing (from your unconscious learnings).
So, one’s intelligence and behavior are often at odds. This is when someone “talks the talk” but doesn’t “walk the walk”.
It’s been said that “life is learning”.
Change is learning new things. Replacing things that aren’t working so well with something that works better. This requires consciousness, curiosity, and imagination. A willingness to explore what works.
Why it’s good not to know sometimes
The conscious mind is masterful at defending its knowns (which often include limiting beliefs and perceptions).
However, it’s not so good at innovating on its own because innovation (and change) involve a partnership with the unknown, which is connected to the limitless possibilities of imagination.
“When you’ve exhausted all possibilities, remember this—you haven’t.”
The reason why change is so difficult for many is that they’ve developed a habit of associating a negative state or emotion with “I don’t know”.
“I don’t know” happens whenever you run out of conscious resources.
What state or emotion do you associate with “not knowing”?
Negative associations with “not knowing” are the daily sustenance of many a control freak.
In my hypnotherapy practice, it’s essential that I help clients to quickly realize (through direct experience) that they will survive the unknown.
I also train my hypnotherapy students to provoke curiosity and ignite imagination in their clients as they help them to dig deeper and discover the solutions already within them.
And since we know that “not knowing” is the area where authentic learning begins, does it not stand to reason that helping someone through the process of change would necessitate their first getting more comfortable with “not knowing”—so they can feel good learning new things?
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Replacing negative associations about “not knowing” with new, positive associations is highly empowering because life contains plenty of “I don’t know”. (This also, naturally, enhances the spiritual life of those so inclined.)
Bridging the divide
Logic and imagination can become friends.
Your immense unconscious resources (everything you’ve ever learned) are more accessible when you learn how to partner with your unconscious mind (your deep, innermost self).
The irony is that the more comfortably curious you get with “I don’t know”, the sooner the “aha” moments come. This requires developing the ability to occasionally put your conscious mind on pause.
That means proper time spent imagining solutions, wondering, and being curious (rather than only analyzing problems, calculating, and doubting in circles).
Sometimes you just have to get the hell out of the way and let “the bigger you” do its magic.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
It’s easy to put boundaries around what you currently think you know and confuse that with who you are. It’s safe for your programming (ego).
Yet, the calling for you to expand beyond those self-imposed boundaries into the realm of possibilities will never go away. It is the enemy of all tyrants. And an ally of the blessed.
Some vaguely identify that as a subtle sense that they’re not living up to their potential. Others identify it as an open invitation to ride the lightning into a greater wisdom.
Consider “I don’t know” to be the doorway to change.
Because it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.