by Cara Lumen
We were both frustrated – she didn’t understand and I didn’t understand why she didn’t understand. What a quandary! And I began to wonder why we sometimes simply don’t understand and what we can do about it.
Why you don’t understand
I’ve had two people in my life latently who for one reason or the other are in a place of not-understanding something they need to. And I can’t figure out why.
In one case the topic is finances. My friend managed for herself for ten years. Then she got married and overtime abdicated the financial responsibility to her husband. Now she is getting a divorce and must find a way to understand the rudiments of her finances or she will never be able to claim her own power.
And maybe that’s it. To claim responsibly is to be responsible for the outcome, the success, the failure. Is it easier not to try at all?
The other person’s topic has to do with her web site. What I figured out about her is that she never took responsibility to learn any part of her system – her shopping cart for instance, which I coached her in. There are tutorials, there is simply going in and studying it, and when I assumed she knew how to get the code for a “buy now” button after all these years because it’s basic I found she didn’t and I don’t think she even wanted to know how.
If you don’t help yourself, no one will help you
There is only so much another person can or will do for you. You cannot just stay in your “I don’t understand” phase. Even on the most rudimentary planes we can understand a concept – if we want to – if we are willing.
What don’t you understand and why are you not willing to do so?
My design partner will no longer work with this person. And I have no desire to work with her any more either. She has to take some responsibility. You can only hear “I don’t understand” so many times before you choose to give up. She keeps looking outside herself for the answers. At least that’s how I feel as a person who has tried to help her.
But what I don’t understand is why these two women can’t or won’t understand topics that are important to them.
What to do if you don’t understand
I’d love your comments on this because I don’t know why people can’t understand certain things. I do understand about natural talents like a math mind or a writers mind, but I’m talking how-things-interact concepts. My financial friend didn’t understand the concept that before she can get a loan she has to know what her income will be after her divorce and rather than starting with establishing what that will be, she went off house hunting. I tried to give her a very simple example of how capital produces interest and she refused to read the email, she said it was too much, she didn’t understand. She shut down at the idea of even trying to understand.
What are you refusing to learn? And why?
I have one suggestion for my financial friend – EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique around her inability to understand her finances. EFT helps unblock emotions like fear of not understanding, or fear of failure. I hope she tries it.
These women are smart. But it’s as if they abdicate their own power and are unable or unwilling to do what needs to be done to take the steps they desire.
Is it low self esteem? My financial friend’s husband certainly put her down. He had no patience with her and got mad when he tried to help her and then of course she was even less capable of getting it.
I’m trying to think what I don’t understand so I can see why I don’t. I’m naturally curious so I know a little bit about a lot of things. Ahh, I just remembered – chemistry. I was in chemistry class for three days in high school and dropped it. I do not relate to numbers well and the chemical abbreviations were an immediate turn off – I could find no way to relate to them and I didn’t want to know about it. I quit the class.
But what could I have done if I absolutely had to learn chemistry? Talk with my instructor until I found a way to relate to the topic. Figure out my own way to remember what I needed to know. Ask other students for analogies until I found the one I could relate to. Keep working till I had a breakthrough. I’m just thinking what I might have done.
I remember when I decided to learn to edit audio. It seemed complicated although I knew nothing about it. I bought Sound Forge and simply needed to take the tutorials. I would have loved to have someone come in for half an hour and show me but I didn’t and I kept putting it off and putting it off. When I did decide to simply start learning I found it easy and things I had learned in Camtasia years ago were relevant. I had put off doing something I wanted to do for nearly a year because I didn’t just sit myself and begin. We all start from a place of not-knowing. We all have to just start from wherever we are and take a step.
The woman with the web problem is jumping from person to person looking for someone to do the details for her when she starts out by saying she wants control of her web site. And yet she makes no effort to learn what she needs to know to do that. It takes time to learn a new program or a new skill set – and practice and focus. You have to carve out time to make it happen.
My financial friend needs self-confidence but she too needs to make an effort, to understand how her own mind works and find a way to help it learn what she needs to know.
Make a decision
I discussed this inability to understand with a retired school teacher and he said sometimes it was a matter of not being able to make a choice. We don’t make choices because we are afraid to fail, we don’t think we could possible choose correctly, or we simply have never allowed or encouraged ourselves to learn to make choices. No one can help you if you don’t make a choice. And even if you choose incorrectly you learn that that choice doesn’t work. If your inability to understand comes from simply not making a choice, change that. Make a choice, go exploring till you have enough information to see that it will or won’t work. Then either keep going or make another choice.
Know your mind
Our minds work differently as we grow older but if we have been playing with them all along, we just find different approaches, different methods of remembering and learning. Ask different people to explain the concept you need to know to you. Someone will have the perfect way to explain it so you get it.
You may not want to understand something (like how a car engine works) but if you need to know something then start looking for ways to understand. Ask different people to explain it to you in different ways and keep telling yourself you CAN get it.
©2010 Cara Lumen