Three Different Ways Of Knowing

by | Apr 8, 2022

As a student therapist, I had the opportunity to do an internship with a great therapist. She would occasionally describe three different ways of knowing or gathering information to her clients.

Ever since I heard her talk about it, I have been fascinated by it and now use it often with my clients.

The first way we gather information is from our rational, logical thinking brain. We use this information to make decisions and process events. This is also how we know our age, our location, how to do math, and how to make sense out of complicated situations.

Another way we gather information is through our bodies. Our stomach growls, and we realize we are hungry. Our body shivers, and we know we are cold. We may not have cognitively thought “I am cold” or “I am hungry” until we experienced it first through our bodies.

The third way we gather information is through our emotions. We feel off today but can’t pinpoint why. We feel sad or angry suddenly and didn’t expect those feelings. We may feel disappointed or disconnected and not know why.

We may also be really in tune with the way we feel and make choices based on this emotional knowing. Our American culture can look down on relying heavily on this information. It is often seen as a positive to make logical decisions and a negative to make emotional decisions. Our culture gives more credit to cognitive knowing, less credit to emotional knowing, and almost no credit to bodily knowing.

I have seen transformation happen as people begin to value all three ways of gathering information and integrating them into one knowledge system. This holistic approach to knowing honors the parts of us that store information differently. Our bodies and emotions store information without the understanding of time and place. The result of this is we often react to conflict out of an emotional or bodily place that doesn’t know how old we are or understand we are a safe place. After this reaction, our cognitive thinking parts talk down to us for handling a situation in such an immature or childish way. Using an integrated system of knowing, we are able to understand our reactions because our emotions were acting their age, and our body may have given us warning signs to help us calm down.

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