Humans have the capacity to interpret symbols. That is, our capacity to ‘see’ different possible scenarios or outcomes for situations without or before going into the situations. We don’t know what is going to happen, but might, within the realm of possibilities, ‘guess’ the end result. Interestingly, either we don’t practice and take advantage of this capacity, or we simply ignore what could happen when engaging in certain behaviors. We are more inclined to look back, see the outcome of situations and tell ourselves as consolation, “If I knew then what I know now…” More fascinating is when the same mistakes are repeated even thou we know now what I knew then.
How is this possible? Perhaps, along with the capacity to interpret symbols we have the capacity to create excuses for each one of the outcomes we foresee. Perhaps, we don’t want to pay attention to that inner voice that attempts to warn us that we have been down that road before. That inner voice is trying to make us stop and think. Why don’t we? I think it might have something to do with our capacity to learn and the nature and results of learning.
Basically, defining learning can take us in different directions. We can say that learning is simply “making sense”. Learning could be also knowing how to do something, or knowing how to explain something. Learning could also be defined as “acquiring knowledge”. Knowledge allows people to be prepared when new situations arrive. Knowledge transforms the way we think and the way we behave. We can talk about motivation, purpose, validation, awareness, mindfulness, inspiration, metacognition, critical thinking, creative thinking, evaluation, memory, and many other paths that will for sure make for very interesting conversations. At the end of it all, how does it help us?
Let’s see the idea of knowing then what we know now from a different angle. How about what to do later what we know now? It is like doing a retrospection towards the future. What if we become transformed by past experiences so in the future we don’t fall victims of the same mistakes? How are we going to respond to similar situations knowing now what we know now? If we really learned from a previous experience, why do we fall again? What is hindering the transformation that comes with knowledge? Are we learning anything at all? Is there something else getting in the way of living free from similar mistakes? We can’t blame ourselves for what we didn’t know, but now that we know, what’s next?