One of the things that I have come to believe through my work with clients, and through my own personal work, is that insight alone is usually not enough to create change. That insight has to be coupled with practice, and lots of it to create the change, and ultimately the transformation we desire. We could also say the same if we flipped it in reverse. Practice alone, without any insight, will also not create change.
I have been greatly influenced by this idea through a couple of key writings. One is the work of my mentor and friend Dr. Terry Hargrave out of Fuller Theological Seminary, his book Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy, along with my training with him, has been transformative in my life. His model of the Pain and Peace Cycle, alone with four very practical steps has been a game changer in my life and the life of many.
I have also really been influenced by the work of Angela Duckworth, and more specifically, her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In her book she delineates between deliberate practice and flow, and talks about how flow comes out of deliberate practice.
What I have experienced through the Restoration Therapy model is that the more individuals, couples, etc, practice their Pain and Peace Cycles, they can often get to flow states where it feels very natural, and habitual. But that transformational experience is only experienced because of the combination of insight and practice. Without both, flow and change isn't experienced.
I'm currently reading a really good book by Laurence Gonzales called Deep Survival:Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. In this book he writes the following:
While the pathways from the amygdala to the neocortex are stronger and faster than the ones going the other way, some ability may remain for the neocortex to do the following: First, to recognize that there is an emotional response underway. Second, to read reality and perceive circumstances correctly. Third, to override or modulate the automatic reaction if it is an inappropriate one; and fourth, to select a correct course of action. (location 876-886/Kindle)
He then goes on to write:
When you learn something complex, such as flying, snowboarding, or playing tennis or golf, at first you must think through each move. That is called explicit learning, and it’s stored in explicit memory, the kind you can talk about, the kind that allows you to remember a recipe for lasagna. But as you gain more experience, you begin to do the task less consciously. You develop flow, touch, timing— a feel for it. It becomes second nature, a thing of beauty. That’s known as implicit learning. The two neurological systems of explicit and implicit learning are quite separate. Implicit memories are unconscious. Implicit learning is like a natural smile: It comes by way of a different neural pathway from the one that carries explicit memory. (location 896/Kindle)
After I read this I thought to myself, this are the steps Restoration Therapy model of the Pain and Peace Cycle. And he's talking about deliberate practice and flow states.
Why is all of this important? Because whether we are talking about life and death situations like in Deep Survival, or conflict in relationships like in Restoration Therapy, or athletic and artistic performance in Grit....they are all about a certain level of awareness (insight) that requires us to practice, and it's in doing so that we create change and make better decisions, and move closer to transformational flow.
In this episode:
Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy by Dr. Terry Hargrave
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Deep Survival:Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales