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Aha! Why insight isn’t enough

Earth shattering, toe curling insights!
Earth shattering, toe curling insights!

Have you ever had an a-ha! Moment? You know, one of those earth-shattering, knocks you off your feet, “oh, my god, I just realized!” moments that leaves you alert, euphoric, wild and excited?

One of my first “a-ha! moments” came as a graduate student, when sometime during the end of my third year, I was stripped of the foolish notion that armed with insight alone a person could change. In a flash I went from believing that I could “cure” patients by helping them understand the why of their behavior to realizing that insight, although necessary for change, is insufficient on its own. My task as a psychologist would be far more difficult than doling out a bunch of aha! moments.

[bctt tweet=”Although necessary for change, insight alone won’t cut it!” username=”lifenfocus”]

Big earthquakes or small tremors:

Insight on it’s own is not sufficient, but it is necessary:

Whether it comes in the form an earth-shattering a-ha! moment, or the much more common awareness we gain from hindsight, insights can lead to a level of personal understanding that can theoretically effect change.

A plan that is not rooted in deep personal insight is insufficient:

A-ha! moments can trigger emotional highs. It may feel momentarily great to understand something about yourself or your world, but without direction, there is no real value and the feeling fades away. That’s the problem with a lot of motivational speakers; they get you to this place of self-awareness and insight, but then don’t tell you what to do with it.

On the other hand, many coaches and strategists have wonderful plans and systems to teach you the “how-to’s,” but they fail to create the kind of deep insight shows you how to create goals that personally meaningful and relevant.

Your options are limited knowledge or systems that might be right for some, but aren’t necessarily right for you.                  

Putting two and two together

I coach people to appreciate both insight and action equally. I show them how to use their daily experiences, daydreams and emotions as tools from which to build awareness. We use that awareness to gain insight, and then use the insight to define what they need, and which goals and course of action make the most sense for them.

In theory, it’s a simple process that involves some reflective questioning:

  1. “Now that I know this, how does it change what I do?”.
  2. “What am I going to do (in very practical, concrete terms) with this knowledge?”
  3. “What changes am I going to make using this piece of information?”

The key is to realize that insight + practical plan = change. If either one of those goes missing you’re left with frustration and stagnation.

Calling all parents out there:

Many of us experience our children growing-up with this sense that someday things will get simpler, or we’ll know exactly how to handle a certain behavior. We imagine we’ll have this aha! moment where everything will come into place. Our fantasy is that once we get that break, or that parenting skill down, we will magically change as will our children, and life will become simpler, allowing us to finally do all the things we want to do for ourselves.

I can’t tell you how often I hear parents of kids younger than mine tell me that once their kid outgrows a specific phase, or once they get the hang of some new behavior their child is exhibiting, they will be free to pursue their dreams and goals. I don’t always have the heart to tell them that it doesn’t get better or easier, it just changes. What doesn’t change is the time, energy and emotional investment of parenting.

Next time you find yourself wishing for a parenting phase to end so you can finally get back to [insert your dream here], use that as insight that you want/need something in your life. Then having that insight, ask yourself what changes you can make today.

Need some help moving forward with your goals?

Stay tuned for the Thriving Parent bundle – a compilation of tools, parent-driven content and a one month membership the Thriving Parent community

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.

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