“If you’re so smart, why are you so poor?” You can’t argue with those words, nor can you add anything. Nor do they apply to income only.
Take any relationship problem: with a spouse, with teenage children or with elderly parents. If you’re talking about a friend or a neighbor you always know what they should do :). So why is it that your knowledge is useless when it comes to yourself?
Nowadays you can find an answer to any question on Google or at least in a forum on that subject. You’d think that people should instantly fix their mistakes and get quick results.
- After a wave of classes on “How to marry a millionaire” there should be no free women or millionaires left in the country :). However, there’re more and more lonely and unhappy people every year.
- After classes on femininity and harmonious relationships, women in pants and divorce should disappear :). Yet, statistics are quite merciless – every other marriage is dissolved.
- After miles and miles of trainings and books on how to raise children, there should be a generation of prodigies who’s had a happy childhood. Yet, children still carry a chip on their shoulder and the generation gap keeps growing wider. There is neither understanding nor respect.
So the key question is “Why doesn’t knowledge lead to real change?”
The body grows, but the mind lags behind
The simplest answer that comes to mind is that change is hard. That is why most people just “stay there” and wait for something to happen because they are lazy or indecisive. That said, anyone can talk about getting ahead and doing things. When they do, everyone feels very smart and even somehow involved in global changes :).
Actually, laziness and indecisiveness are just the top of the iceberg.
The theory of psychological levels of growing up gives the most logical explanation. It says that each age period has not only physical, but also psychological characteristics. However, for many people the body changes according to plan, while the mind “lags” or even stays at a certain stage.
Here are a few notable examples:
Example one. A person needs constant attention. That is why they make loud jokes and laugh loudly, why they shout and have a scene or behave outrageously. If there is something they want, they simply do it without thinking of the consequences.
Who does this description remind you of? Here’s a hint – a six-year-old child… Or an adult who “froze” at that psychological age.
Example two. A person does “what everyone does” simply so as not to be criticized. At the same time, they easily get involved in shady dealings just “to join the club.” If they have to do something new, they may cogitate for years, but not act. All in all, they really dislike change or sudden change of plans. They prefer for things to be not too great, but stable and safe.
What associations come up with this description? Here’s another hint – a teenager, someone between 13 and 19. There are, however, quite a few grown up people for whom every decision depends on “What will people think?”
The age of “Knowledge Collector”
By the age of 20 a person usually begins to think for themselves. They begin to realize what they are interested in and to grow in various directions. They like to study and collect facts so that they can brag about being informed later on.
Now their “personal opinion” becomes especially important. It gives the feeling of their own uniqueness and importance and that is why they are ready to defend it vehemently.
However, if a person does not grow out of the “youth” age psychologically, all these indicators become chronic.
- Rapid intellectual growth becomes a habit of collecting data. “Youths” always attend classes and trainings, but never dare to open their own business or to move to another country or to pick up the phone or to make it up with Mother.
- Personal system of values takes shape, which is wonderful. Until the person loses their intellectual flexibility. Often enough, in order to solve a problem you have to change your point of view and take into account the values of the other side. This compromise is unacceptable to a “youth” because “personal opinion” is always more important than results.
- Asserting personal opinion, which seems to be a virtue, can become a bad habit. That is because a person turns a deaf ear to arguments of reason and bases everything on the “there’s my opinion and the wrong one” principle. It is very important for the “youth” to defend their point of view even if they have to waste a ton of time in intellectual disputes and suffer “in the cause of justice.”
What bars the way to change?
Any positive change has two enemies:
1. The comfort zone. Most people are doing well enough. They have a stable income, a warm home (even if it is rented) and security. You may not be too happy, but it’s good enough. That is why the temptation to find a good excuse and not change anything is too great.
2. Insecurity. Any change means a disturbance of the current state of things and uncertainly in the future. Will you manage to start your own business? Can you start a new relationship after a difficult break-up? Can you move out of your parents’ house? Can you change your job or country of residence? What will happen to you in this uncertainty?
It is precisely your psychological age that plays a dirty trick on you at this stage. That is because insecurity has various nuances. It is very difficult to recognize and even more difficult to overcome.
The “teenager” age nails a person down with an unhealthy dependence on others’ opinions as well as fear of criticism. The person will look around them a hundred times before making a single step forward.
“What will mom say? What if my friends don’t like it? Oh, what if the neighbors gossip about it? Maybe I shouldn’t bother making the step and just stay in my nice warm swamp…”
The “youth” age keeps you at the information collection and decision-making stage. A person keeps thinking that they are not ready; that they have not studied all they could and have not thought through all possible scenarios.
The person goes through hundreds of quite working scenarios. They work, but they are not ideal. They will find a fault with every one of them. So, instead of actually going into action they start going through yet another one.
You cannot overcome such insecurities, you can only grow out of them and move to the next level, the adult level, where you set goals and reach them, where you have constructive relationships and not the kind that’s based on emotions only. A psychologically adult person knows how to act in unfavorable situations. They make decisions easily and know how to deal with stress. They can deal with emotions for the sake of the cause and accept the world as it is.