That’s What You Say: Considerations When Reading/Learning a Subject

About five years ago I became interested in reading and learning more about thought life, and the process of thinking. Around this same time I happened to be on one of my used book store adventures, and came across a book about the inner thought life. On subsequent adventures I found more books on the topic, and in no time I had a small bookshelf filled and more than enough books to teach me about thinking.

When we first start reading about a topic the author may excite us and without knowing it we may begin to consider the author a  subject matter expert. We may not even realize that we are picking up their attitudes, and how much they are impacting our view on a subject.

That’s What You Say

As we read and learn a new subject keep in mind, “that’s what you say”. If we read one blog post, one article, one book, or take one class we are exposing ourselves to one opinion, one set of attitudes, and one person’s portfolio of values, experiences and learning. What you are reading, or learning is what they say, but there may be more to learn on that topic beyond what they say.

Life taught me a poignant lesson in this. For thirteen years I sat under a specific doctrinal teaching. When I first read the books associated with the foundation of this doctrine I fell in love. It just made sense. I did what I always do when I love something, and devoured everything I could get my hands on about the subject. I was being fed, and feeding myself with what a certain sect of teaching had to say.

Life took a turn and I left that situation and teaching. I was like a fish out of water grasping for air. I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, but over time something amazing happened. In my state of confusion I became more open to new teachings and aware of books that spoke about this doctrine in a fresh way. At this moment in my life I realized that for thirteen years I had isolated myself to one specific type of teaching, and realized the harm it had done to me. I had entered a tunnel where I shut everything else out, and now as I emerged I struggled to get used to the bright light of possibilities beyond what I had learned.

That’s What You Say

Learning is a process. It takes time to read, learn, experience and develop. Unfortunately there are no quick roads to gaining wisdom, insight and becoming subject experts. As we move along the development road we will encounter different attitudes, and understandings of a subject. It can be healthy to consider, that’s just what they say, and then search for more insights and understandings about a subject, and let the experiences of life teach us.

Yet, don’t take my word for it. Try this and find out for yourself. Could there be a subject you have learned in a tunnel and shut out all other views? Do you believe what you believe because one person said you should, or because you have developed your own view? Could there a benefit to giving some other viewpoints a chance, or at least reading about them to gain a better understanding of what others are thinking?

Living, learning, and growing,

Marcy Pedersen



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