The intellect doesn’t know

We’ve been taught to figure things out when something feels difficult. We’ve been taught to analyse what’s going on to find an answer. These are activities of an intellect that just gets in the way of the very thing it’s looking for.

Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you were chasing yourself round in circles in your mind?

Should I do it, or shouldn’t I?

Is this job for me, or not?

Shall I stay with this person, or not?

Do you remember the feeling of intellectual ping pong that was going on in your mind? Maybe accompanied by feelings of tension or stress. The intellect desperately trying to “fix” this situation so that it will “fix” these stressful feelings.

It’s doing its best but it has no idea.

Because do you also remember having a moment of clarity? You had a new idea or you were suddenly compelled into action or into making a decision. There was an obviousness of what to do. It felt right — without it needing to conform with anything that had gone before.

The former is an activity of a mind that is desperately trying to find the “right” answer. Lost in the belief that what’s gone before must have the answers for now, and that what others are already doing must be a route to safety. Frantically looking through the same old filing cabinet again and again and again. Hoping that if it looks this time the “right” answer will be found and all will be OK.

The latter is the natural design of the system. It’s wired for fresh insight and realisation. The moment we stop the frantic search it’s like we’ve connected to the wifi and opened up an infinite well of possibilities and fresh ways forward. From there the concern for things like “what will others think” or “is this allowed” disappear and action just happens.

The intellect, the one searching the filing cabinets, was desperately trying to find the “right” answer to fix this stressful feeling of not knowing what to do. And all the while, its very activity of desperately trying to find the “right” answer was in fact both creating the stressful feeling AND covering up the capacity for insight, realisation and the fresh, perfect answers for this moment, now. 

The intellect has no idea. From its limited perspective it thinks its scurrying will find an answer when all it’s actually doing is keeping the current experience in play, and clogging the pipe for the source of real answers to flow through.

The intellect imagines that “right” is a real, tangible, definite thing. There is no such thing as “right”. Not as a rule that can be followed over and over. What’s “right” for this moment and with this person now, is different to what’s right for that very similar but slightly nuanced moment tomorrow, or next week.

The intellect is like trying to use a great big hammer when the natural design provides a finely tuned chisel.

Notice where this is happening for you. Notice where you’re caught up. Notice how, the instant you ease off the pedal of intellectual analysis, something fresh comes to mind, or an activity is done which feels relaxing and head-clearing — which then enables a fresh idea.

We really don’t need to work so hard. There’s nothing to fix. The system knows what it’s doing.

Test it and see.

With love, Helen

I work with leaders who are disillusioned. Disillusioned about their career, about their previous leadership development, or about their life. I work from the level of the human experience system — guiding clients to insights about the mechanics of the how the system works, for sustained change and lasting clarity. Find out more here.

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