I’ve been in this type of work (personal and professional development) for 20 years and yet it never ceases to amaze me how frequently I learn a new lesson.

Well, let me rephrase that. I am relearning old lessons.

No doubt the same is true for you. In fact, I often hear from people phrases like “I thought I’d gotten past that limiting belief” or “why does this keep showing up”.

I don’t actually have the space here to parse out all the psychological theories and research that has gone on over the years about “old lessons”. So, I’ll try to summarize some of the thoughts on the subject.

  1.  Lessons are never really learned. They are learned on that day, in that context, for that desired outcome. The underlying idea might be remembered, such as “give what you want to receive” or “time flies when you’re having fun” but each day is a brand new day (oh, there’s another lesson). In that new day, we are – and have the opportunity to be – a new person. We have grown a little bit (hopefully) and have evolved ideas (even a tiny bit). The context has changed somehow.
  2. While our long-term memory may hold all of our lessons, accessing it is not always easy. The more you use a neural pathway, the easier it is to recall in future. If you learn a lesson, such as “I am capable of doing X”, how often do you actually do “X”? Probably not that often. The more frequently you do “X”, or remind yourself that you have done “X”, the more easily you can recall the learning.
  3. Sometimes, we set ourselves up for the drama. You know it, I know it – sometimes, we just complicate things for the drama. Perhaps we like the challenge of solving this particular “problem” (even though we already know a likely solution) or we love to dwell in our own suffering, so we allow external and internal noise to have a higher volume that it deserves.
  4. Speaking of internal noise, humans have a tendency to compare our outsides with other people’s insides. In other words, from our vantage point of “self”, we evaluate and judge ourselves against what we think others are experiencing, good or bad. We see Good Ol’ Jackie getting all the praise for a job well done or Poor Young Bob having a hard time of things. Of course, rapidly evaluating our social and environmental conditions is a natural process of the brain. But the noise it creates internally is a learned behavior. Unfortunately, most people don’t (a) realize that internal noise is a learned behavior and/or (b) recognize that quite often our internal noise is fundamentally false and/or (c) pause long enough to challenge the internal chit chat. 
  5. And external noise is all around us. Gurus, retailers, commentators, branding, marketing imagery, etc fills our every day. Again, we rarely pause long enough to question that noise as it relates to our Self. I know a lot about marketing and influencing and, yes, even how manipulation works. Yet, I am susceptible to the messaging to buy something I don’t need, or believe something that is not true. I have even been known to quickly forward a Facebook post about something only to find out that it was complete BS. Fortunately, I am not as susceptible as I used to be primarily because I do take the time to check in with Self regarding my motivations, needs, desires and wants.

Action – In a nutshell then, next time you hear yourself berate yourself about some old lesson you “should” have known, remember:

a. You are in a continuous state of growth and regrowth; there isn’t a destination

b. Your brain doesn’t always give you accurate information

c. You are harder on yourself than you would be on anyone else, and that is completely unnecessary (and is a learned behavior too)

d. You will be learning lessons all your life, thank goodness!! Be a willing student.

(Something tells me you know all this already LOL)