The Fear of Being Unable to Articulate Oneself

Thinking that you’re crazy because you’re unable to express what you know.

For the longest time, I’ve been trying to articulate any dominate fears that I have. It’s been difficult because I don’t see many blockades in my life’s work because I love exploring the unknown and going off the edge of the map of the known world. So I’m not really fearful in exploring things that would radically cause future shock in others because they’ve become common place and common sense for me now.

Yet at the same time, over the past few years, I feel like I’m been hitting a wall more and more that I can’t seem to get over. This wall is a fear. Yet trying to see what this fear is has been difficult. It primarily arises after I make a major breakthrough, experiencing a massive high at some discovery that helps me see things in a broader way. Yet immediately following that, when I try to write about what I’ve discovered and have seen, I freeze up and I’m unable to express what I’ve seen and understood.

At first, I thought the problem was that I truly didn’t understand what I was seeing because being unable to articulate what you’re seeing is a common sign that you don’t actually understand what you’re seeing. Richard Feynman emphasized this and mentioned that giving a lecture on what you think you know is a good way to see if you truly understand what you know.

For myself, I truly believe I understand what I’m seeing but it felt like something else was getting in the way of expressing what I know. While reading How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens (which also emphasizes being able to articulate what you know as well), he mentioned that your “permanent” notes eventually heighten your intuition, allowing you to see the invisible connections between things that may not have been visible to you before. Seeing this word intuition over and over again, finally woke me up to why I was hitting this wall.

I’m strongly intuitive by nature, so much so that I’m able to be see patterns and connections between things often far sooner than others around me. What might take them a year or two to see some patterns and the connections between them, might take me a couple of weeks. For example, I’ve had people from previous jobs tell me years later that what I was seeing within the organization at the time, they finally saw a few years later, even though at the time we worked together, they couldn’t see what I was seeing.

Because of my ability to utilize and trust my intuition so strongly, I’m able to visibly see these connections between things that are often “below the surface” and invisible to others (i.e. an organization’s culture). Deciding to do a simple search on Google, I wrote “is intuition understanding something if you can’t articulate it”. And sure enough the top result returned what I intuited and expected with an article entitled 5 Tips for Intuitive Types Who Can’t Explain Their Vision.

Intuition trains you to make sense of these thoughts without examining every detail. But details matter when you are trying to explain your ideas.

5 Tips for Intuitive Types Who Can’t Explain Their Vision

This quote above, from the introduction of the article, pretty much sums up my experience as someone who strongly relies upon their intuition. It’s easy to see these things for me, often in vivid, visual detail, as it’s like having this “big picture” within my head, almost like another world I’ve explored (with travel photos of it in my mind). But the difficultly arises when one returns from visiting this world and is unable to articulate what one has seen there.

While this might seem foreign for someone to understand and grasp, based upon their own personality type, what I find really interesting here is the very next sentence after the quote above is this one.

Overlooking a word or feature can cause complete misunderstanding – as if you are speaking a different language.

So within my mind, I’m not just pretending to visit this place, I’m actually going there, like I’m a tourist visiting a new country or an explorer visiting a new world. And to really articulate what you’re seeing and understand the meaning of it, you almost have to communicate within the language of the people who live there. And that’s the difficultly. How do you communicate something within a completely different, unconventional language than the conventional language that most people normally use? That’s my struggle.

Luckily the article emphasizes a variety of things that can help me in this process. And interestingly enough, some of these things I’m already attempting to do (i.e. crafting one sentence with a few “anchors” that emphasize the narrative or theme of my life’s work) but I think it’s putting them all together into practice that will help me to make this next big step in my development and growth, “levelling up” in the process.

All said and done, I’m grateful that this fear has finally been brought to the surface and has become visible because now I can actually see it, admit it, and begin to work on it. In other words, if you can’t see what the problem is (even in some vague sense), you can’t really start walking around it and trying to understand it better.

BTW just a final thought to this, that’s kind of like the icing on the cake. If you read the concluding comments for my personality type, something that is raised by people is that they don’t have any interest in “learning a new language” which is a key characteristic of my personality type. This perfectly shows how so many people misunderstand the meaning of personality types because they are looking literally at something that can be communicating something metaphorically (like Joseph Campbell’s work). In this case, as my own life experience proves, “learning a new language” doesn’t literally mean learning the language of a foreign country but in this case it means learning a new language of meaning which is exactly what everyone will be going through as they transform themselves and their worldview for the future emerging rapidly before us right now.

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