It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. I should have this tattooed on my forehead and be forced to read it every time I look in a mirror!
I’m struck by the gulf between understanding something on an intellectual level and having the wisdom to be able to act on it physically.
I know that if I keep repeating the same behaviour in all likelihood, I will get the same result! I understand the statement; I understand the concept, and yet I continue to act and behave in ways that are not producing the outcomes I desire.
Why is this? Why is it so hard to learn lessons from past experiences? I wrote yesterday about the value of scar tissue in its predictive ability for future success and would like to explore this further.
I have been reading Russel Brand’s book, Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions. It’s a raw, honest book that provides a simple, no-nonsense, plain English guide to the Twelve Steps Program. Russel is 15 years clean and yet still needs and uses the lessons and practices of the twelve-step program in his day to day life. This continued need illustrates how difficult it is to maintain change, to thoroughly learn the lessons of our past.
The twelve-step program provides him with a framework to repeatedly remind himself of the lessons he needs to learn to live a clean life. I think this is where its power lies and could be very useful for “non-addicts” in daily life.
Often when we make a mistake, we only dwell on it long enough to feel anger and blame. But I think we need to move beyond this to understand how we can learn from this experience. It is common to write down our goals, but it would serve us better to write down the lessons we need to learn from failure.
This way we are positioning our mind to think through the failure and extract the positive lessons we can take forward. Then if we develop a system for referring back to these “Lessons from Failure Notes”, we will reinforce the message. Just maybe this will help us to break the pattern, like the addict using the twelve-step program and make a different choice tomorrow when facing similar challenges.
It is easy to write this, but like many other things will be hard to implement as it requires ongoing self-discipline. If you too are struggling with this, I share your pain; I know that self-discipline is the key to long term happiness, success and fulfilment of my dreams but it’s a daily battle.
I started writing this blog at the beginning of 2019. This blog is the 78th post I have written. I’m hoping that through writing I’m getting closer to the wisdom required to learn the lessons of my past. Thank you for sharing the journey with me.
Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.