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Why We Need Both Intelligence and Knowledge to Make Healthy Choices

An author I enjoy noted in passing the difference between knowledge and intelligence. Though I recognized this truth, the statement stuck in my head because I’d just had a session with a distraught father who was struggling with his teenage son. Several times during the session, I’d suggested that the father read books on child development and, specifically, on parenting an adolescent but, each time I raised the subject, this client more or less let me know that he wasn’t interested.
This client is a good provider and passionately loves his son, wanting the best for him. I’ve assumed that this father is fairly intelligent, yet was struck by his determination to avoid the knowledge that he desperately needed to get along better with and help his son. I’ve come across other people like him in my professional and personal life who absolutely refuse to acquire fairly easily accessible knowledge and would rather continue to act in ways that fail to succeed or stumble along in frustration.
You may be someone like this, yet wonder why you’re not reaching your goals. Lots of my clients read self-help books, but others say, “What’s the point?” or “I know what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t/don’t do it.” My client defended his unwillingness to read up on adolescence by saying that “some theories weren’t going to help him in his particular situation.” Too bad, as I knew that theory and knowledge were exactly what he needed, but didn’t press the issue.
If you’re having difficulty, seek out knowledge through articles, books, groups, psycho-education or therapy. What’s the harm? And, more to the point, what are you afraid of by refusing to learn more? Does it make you feel stupid or foolish that you don’t know what you think you should? You don’t know everything you could know because no one does. I sure don’t.
If you’re trying to become a “normal” eater, how many books have you read about it? On my journey to become one, I read every book that was published and the knowledge I gained in them helped me succeed. If you’re having difficulty dealing with your mother or father, learn something about why that might be rather than scrape by alone. If you’re struggling with your children, find books on their age group or the kind of behavior they’re exhibiting. If you’re grieving and mourning, seek out knowledge on the stages of grief, what is normal to go through and what isn’t, and how to help yourself feel better. If you and your boss seem always to be at odds, find information on dealing with bosses.
You’re not proving that you’re more intelligent by refusing knowledge. You’re actually demonstrating that your intelligence isn’t as high as you think it is. Knowledge is a wondrous thing, but sometimes you need to go out and seek it, then make it your own.
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