Metacognition in times of crisis

As I begin this new post I want to point out two things that seem relevant to me in the title of this publication. The first is that I do not intend to make it difficult, but to be clear on the profound need for metacognition. Just so we are all clear, when we talk about metacognition we mean “the ability to self-regulate learning processes. As such, it involves a set of intellectual operations associated with the knowledge, control and regulation of the cognitive mechanisms involved in a person’s gathering, evaluating and producing information, in short: learning”.

A second element that I want to mark explicitly before continuing, is that I personally believe that we are not in crisis, but that we are experiencing a context of profound and numerous changes, which lead us to a moment in which it becomes urgent to adapt at a speed that not all people are able to cope adaptively, which results in a state of internal crisis, which although it becomes an individual psycho-emotional crisis, does not constitute a state of crisis as such (in an objective world).

Lately I have been studying various texts of history, philosophy and spaces of deeper reflection. I have done this deliberately driven by the (very personal) idea that it becomes essential to incorporate better internal ways of learning about ourselves and the context around us, in order to become increasingly adaptive people, and that we are able to build in us new patterns and habits that help us to achieve what we want, regardless of the context in which we can find ourselves. Can you imagine finding that “key”? Then the context stops being so influential in the achievement of your goals, and with it we should be able to achieve greater personal freedom (with the usual responsibility that comes with it).

But how to enter the world of metacognition? essentially we must learn to think. Some of you might even be offended by this comment: who do you think you are coming to insinuate that I don’t know how to think… let me explain the idea behind it, so that you can then see if you reject the concept with revulsion and criticism or, perhaps, find something of value in it.

If you find yourself alive you have a very long time practicing breathing. In fact, the instant you stop practicing it for more than the proper amount of time the result will be literally deadly. Does that make you an expert at breathing? Of course not, that is why there are people engaged in mindfulness practices and on the path to training in various meditation or mindfullness techniques. The same thing happens with eating or other activities that we do throughout our lives, but we do not really know how to do it well (just look at the rates of health problems resulting from how poorly we do it as a group).

The same thing happens with thinking and philosophers know it and knew it well. We need to take time for reflection, questioning and study, more than bad that has been, essentially, the gymnasium of the human mind, and it is not closed by any quarantine.
These elements of personal work are, in the reality of millions of people, mere comments or museum pieces. It becomes more entertaining to put something on Netflix than to take a book, it seems better to be distracted by social networks than to take a moment to become aware of our own thoughts or emotions and connect with an inner world that we often fail to understand and that seems to offer few stimuli and fewer “likes”.

So why make such an effort to train our metacognition? The evidence of its advantages is enormous, not only helps us to develop new skills, think in a better way, question ideas, principles and actions, which lead us to improve our personal, performance and even spiritual level. It also prevents Alzheimer’s, opens our creative capacity and opens new spaces to our “dark sides”, often inviting them to come out of that corner to a space of greater luminosity to inspect it in a better way; it also leaves us with more options to make decisions, exercise the so famous free will, learn about ourselves and extract that inner wisdom of which Socrates spoke to his disciples, and so many other relevant thinkers in human history.

Just as software companies all the time release new updates of their systems to improve the experience, run faster and adapt to the changing world, in the same way we can make “upgrades” of our mental “software”, but we can not download it from the internet, on the contrary, we have the update in our hands, without any economic cost, but only asking for time and willingness to make that journey of becoming aware, to understand that what we think we know today may change tomorrow, that we are a project in development, that even if our current version “runs well”, that is no guarantee that it is prepared for what will come in the future or that it will allow us to reach the dreams we have for the future.

Of course, the world has changed, things are getting complicated and the journey of life brings “everything” in the “kit” and that is why we need to learn to learn, learn to change, learn to know ourselves in order to recognize ourselves, manage to detach ourselves from so many revelations that are sold to us from outside, to begin the journey of the revelations that come from within and that open horizons in constant perspective and invitation, reminding us that we do not know as much as we think (nor about ourselves), but that the journey of discovery is much more valuable than the illusion of arriving at port.

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