Four Steps to Innate Wisdom
Wisdom, like creativity, is often put on an exalted pedestal by society. Only the select few artists, poets, musicians are creative; only the rare prophet, sage, mystic is wise.
But that is a thinking error.
Wisdom, like creativity, is a fundamental part of being human. Each person has the capacity to develop wisdom. This article submits a process to facilitate that development.
Wisdom is the sound ability to correctly judge the matters you need to take care of in your life and is essential when dealing with the difficult questions of life and career.
Wisdom is knowing just how much you do not know. It facilitates a way of looking at a perplexing issue from different angles and perspectives in order to develop a more sophisticated, nuanced strategy.
However, staying in wisdom is uncomfortable. It requires an open place of reflection and ‘being in the quest.’ It is much easier to impulsively foreclose on this often uncomfortable process in favor of an immediate — and often not optimal — ‘solution’ in order to avoid discomfort.
By its very nature, wisdom is an exercise in internal conflict: the paradoxes of emotion and logic are dialectically coupled in order for wisdom to emerge. Logical mind is rational and intellectual, while the emotional mind is more physiological and based on what ‘feels right.’ Both modes have pros and cons; a powerful synthesis of the benefits of each mode leads to a person’s innate wisdom.
The intuitive nature of wise mind is key. Intuition is knowing what you know without knowing how you know it. Logic comes from the head and emotion comes from the heart; the combination of the two leads to intuition, which comes from the ‘gut feeling.’
Pausing in order to go within can help a leader capitalize on the wisdom of intuition and create innovative solutions. However, most people don’t have a conscious framework for accessing their intuitive wisdom.
So, what to do?
First, it’s important to clear any intense, distressing emotions. By identifying and validating the emotion, you can get to a place that is more conducive to seeing the issue from both emotion and logic. It is also important to identify whether you generally live from emotional mind or logical mind.
Second identify the problem you would like to apply wisdom to. Not the superficial symptoms, but the actual root problem. List the facts as you are a journalist ‘straight reporting’ the news or a lawyer presenting the facts of a case. Notice any judgments that are getting in the way. Look at all sides and points of view of a situation — esepcially the ones you disagree with!
After emotions are cleared enough so that the problem can be identified and described, proceed to brainstorm. This process leaves no stone unturned by listing as many solutions and coping strategies as you can think of. Make a list of the pros and cons of possible options for moving forward. Which one is most likely to meet your goals in a way that is in line with your values?
Once you have stayed in the discomfort of dialectical wisdom long enough to formulate a possible decision, spend at least one day acting as if you have made the decision. By trying that decision on for size in your ‘mind’s eye,’ you can forecast the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that might arise if you choose that option in reality. You will intuitively know if it feels ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ even if you can’t put you finger on it.
The mystery of wisdom is that it cannot be taught. It must be experienced. However, I hope this process outlined in this article helps you capitalize on experiences life brings your way to experientially develop your innate wisdom.