How to Find Balance Between Learning and Doing

balance

“The Universe is not outside you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are. ” 

~ Rumi

Last week, I had a very profound phone conversation with my sister. We talked about the importance of finding balance between action and reflection, learning and doing, theory and practice. It is crucial to reinforce everything you’re learning by putting it into practical action steps. In the community of spiritual seekers and personal development enthusiasts, it is commonly thought that you need to put all your efforts into changing your mindset and establishing new thinking patterns. Then, the actions that are right for you are supposed to flow naturally and effortlessly from there. That’s true only under certain conditions. In practice, the last step often doesn’t actually follow.

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The results appear to be quite random. While some people see amazing transformations in their life almost immediately, others can’t notice any significant change in their outer life and behavior patterns regardless of how much they learn inside. There are specific reasons why inner lessons don’t lead to outer changes.

Three Reasons Inner Growth Doesn’t Have Any Effect in Outer Life

  1. All inner changes have to be confirmed with corresponding actions, so that you as a whole are in harmony and integrity. It is a process of finding balance between your inner work and outer expression of your new attitudes. It is true that any change has to start inside the person. It cannot come from outside. However, inner change is incomplete without a corresponding outer expression. If you think about it, everything is in you, including other people. We need to interact with others to work on our lessons and help each other grow.
  2. People are very resistant to change. That’s why our mind can use anything, even a spiritual practice, to create a comfort zone and to avoid moving forward. We immerse ourselves in rituals, cleansing practices, meditation, and personal development teachings that never seem to bring us significant results on the level of real-life relationships. Unfortunately, potentially helpful techniques sometimes turn into avoidance mechanisms and a way to escape worldly responsibilities.
  3. There is no doubt that applying what you’ve learned requires courage to integrate the inner life and the outer experience. In truth, there is no difference between the inner and the outer, they are one. We just need to see it with our own eyes. Of course, we have various fears associated with authentic expression. Removing these fears and illusions takes consistent effort. In the meanwhile, you might feel you are not ready for a change and you need to learn just one more thing, read one more book, and listen to one more video. That’s not true! It can turn into a perpetual cycle of learning and delaying. Based on my own experience, we learn much faster when we let our every action and every word be an expression of our truth.

That’s what a true spiritual practice means, not the one that we read about in books. Gradually, you deepen and generalize the principles you have already learned, when you apply them in various simple real-life situations. You also discover new aspects of yourself you never knew existed. A sustainable change touches every area of your life.

How to Start Applying What You Have Already Learned

A very simple recommendation – just start doing what you learned to be true for yourself in simple life situations that include all your relationships. If it’s so simple, why then we don’t do that? Why do we see a disconnect between theory and practice? The reason it usually takes way too long for many of us to start implementing what we know to be true is that we’ve spent our whole life learning and rehearsing certain behavior patterns. We have established neuropathways that reinforce these habits. Not surprisingly, emotional reactions come up when we try to break these patterns, simply because we try to leave the comfort zone and approach the unfamiliar territory in those moments. Instead of persevering and moving through the resistance, we interpret negative emotions as a sign that we are not ready.

Let’s take a moment to understand what negative emotions are trying to tell us. In this context, negative emotions are a good news. We shouldn’t be afraid of them. In fact, we can learn to celebrate them. If you feel fear before taking an action that you think is right, it means you are very close to making the change happen. By overcoming that initial resistance, you will venture into establishing a new neuropathway, which will will support a new pattern of thought and behavior in your life. New thought patterns that are not supported by any action quickly revert back to the familiar old neuropathways.

Since we don’t fully understand how the process of true spiritual growth works, we start doubting that we are even on the right track, search for another book, teacher, or guru, and make things even worse, reducing the chance that the new information we already have will ever transfer into the rest of our life. We plant many seeds, but harvest no fruits. In fact, if we attend to the seeds we have already planted, we will soon have a full blown garden. You can use the process below to deal with negative emotions on a daily basis.

Process: Releasing Fears to Take Action

We can make the process of working through any emotional reaction much faster and gentler, if understand it better and prepare for it in advance. Here is a simple process you can start using to implement your inner lessons into your outer life. If you want to see faster transformation in your life, just do this process and see what happens. As you do that, you will begin to integrate the inner and the outer, and see them as one and the same. It will bring more balance, peace, and so much more fulfillment in your life.

  1. What quality or attitude would you like to express more fully in your life?
  2. Describe 2-3 specific situations in your immediate future, where you will have a chance to put this attitude or quality into action.
  3. Imagine yourself behaving exactly as you would like in these situations. Write down any fears or discomfort that arise as you think about that. If no reaction comes up, ask yourself: Why haven’t I been behaving like this before? Usually, there is a belief or justification that we hold on to.
  4. For each fear, or emotional objection, write down exactly what you are afraid is going to happen in the worst case scenario, if you still behave in a new way. This doesn’t have to be a rational scenario, because it often comes from what we’ve learned when we were little children. Simply looking at these scenarios with honesty and curiosity releases the emotional charge around them, and frees the energy to take action.
  5. Write down what could happen in the best case scenario, if you expressed this quality as you wished. How would you feel as a result?
  6. Write down how you (or another person) could still benefit if the worst case scenario in part (4) is realized. What hidden opportunity for you (or someone else) lies in this experience? The answer to this question is only limited by your imagination. It will be different for each person and each situation.

Many wise people talked about taking action and overcoming negative emotions. I found the book “Letting Go” by Dr. David Hawkins to be a very practical and helpful guide to understand this process. I want to conclude this week’s article with a quote by Dale Carnegie:

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

I can’t wait to hear about your breakthroughs and transformations!

action joy

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4 Comments on "How to Find Balance Between Learning and Doing"

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Doesn’t seem to difficult. I’ll go through your 6-step process, and will share my findings )))

TIFFANY MARIE, LMT
This is such a beautiful post! I love the thought process behind why inner change may not reflect on the outside. Also…you are so fortunate to have a family member to talk to about these things. I get the “deer… Read more »
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