Whether it’s in relation to your health pursuits or anything else in life, the key to change (growth) comes from learning. What is it that helps you learn? When I hear this question, I immediately think of the concept of people preferring to learn visually, or by touch/doing, or by hearing, etc. However, sometimes I learn things really well even if it’s with a modality that isn’t my strong suit (which, for me, is visually and by doing). Why might that be? Why do certain concepts “stick” better than others?
I’m sure it’s a complex topic, but I was struck by something I read in the book “The Coaching Habit” by MIchael Bungay Stanier. In it he wrote,
“. . . somehow the point you’ve been trying to make hasn’t stuck. Here’s why:
- People don’t really learn when you tell them something.
- They don’t even really learn when they do something.
- They start learning, start creating new neural pathways, only when they have a chance to recall and reflect on what just happened.”
Does this surprise you at all? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. For me, I was surprised for a moment, because I believed that doing something was the best way to learn – actually getting experience instead of thinking about the concept only. Sure, doing things helps us learn – but not necessarily just in the doing – but in the mental processing of what’s happening in the moment (or after) we are doing things.
Why bother talking about this, though? It’s important because, if you aren’t learning and making new neural connections in your brain – you’ll struggle immensely to make new insights or have those “light-bulb” moments when something clicks, and you’ll struggle to make new habits. If the brain is unchanged – why should you expect your habits to change (in a lasting way)? This ties back really well to why concepts such as mediation, reflection, or journaling are valuable. All of those practices help a person take time to reflect, “What is actually going on? What just happened?” It seems such a simple question – but it’s profound. How often do we think about that? For many of us, including myself, it’s so easy to have life spin right by and it’s only later on that we are reeling back on our heels thinking, “why do I still feel stuck?”
This is why, sometimes, having a chance to talk with someone (a counselor, a friend, a coach, a relative, etc) can be invaluable, because you give yourself the opportunity (especially if those people are asking better questions) to reflect and think “what’s actually going on?” which, in turn, helps you to learn and make changes you want to make. This is why one person might hear something, walk out the door, and instantly forget everything he/she heard while another might have heard the same thing, and walk out a changed person. Another example – if you and a mentor or friend set up a personal goal – and then you walk away from that meeting never reflecting on that goal or what you need to make progress in that goal – you’ll probably forget all about it – let alone act on it.
So – what is a simple thing you can do? Well, for starters, do you have 10 minutes a week to reflect and process what happened in your week, and why it happened the way it did? If not, start there – make the time. It doesn’t sound like much, but you’ll be surprised. Make sure you give yourself time to learn what’s going on, and you’ll come to understand exactly what you need to do, and that will empower you in your pursuit of growth and change.
To your health and wellness,
Lead health coach Dan Tribley
EPIC Functional Medicine