The more I learn, the dumber I feel…

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past weekend I completed my Active Release Technique Full Body Certification. It was a long weekend in which I learned a lot.

That being said, I am not here today to give a review of the course, tell you what I learned, or explain how learning A.R.T. can help save the world.

save the world, just like this???

What I wanted to talk about today was something I experienced early on in my education and have since spoken to many fellow students who feel the same way. It’s what I like to call the learn more= feel dumb phenomenon. Makes no sense, right? You would think that learning more about a topic or trade would make you feel smarter.

On the surface, learning more makes us smarter, more competent, and more confident in our craft.

However, something happens when we try to expand our knowledge: We lose confidence by comparing ourselves to the teachers/instructors. 

Early on, I would attend seminars and after the weekend was over, I would have this feeling that compared to the instructor, I knew nothing and was totally worthless. The instructor just had so much knowledge to give and watching them work on a patient was an art (get it? art. A.R.T, Active Release Technique???) in itself. In fact, I once had a conversation with another student at a seminar who I look up to and who has taught me a ton himself. He said, “This guy is so smart, I feel like  I am doing my patient’s a disservice by even treating them.”

I used to share this sentiment. But, I got to a point where I realized I needed to flip the switch. I needed to leave a seminar empowered with the knowledge I learned. To be frank, I had to learn to be more selfish. I realized that it isn’t about me compared to the instructor. Really, it’s me compared to me.

This paradigm shift if you will, most definitely changed my outlook and has since left me leaving seminars happy and empowered. Now it’s easy. When I step back, all I need to do is ask myself two simple questions:

1)Do I know more now than I did before this weekend?


2)Will my patient’s benefit from what I have learned?

If I can answer “yes” to these two questions, everything else can be thrown out the window because I am satisfied. Satisfied until the next seminar…

Until next time, have a great day!

  1. Nick Ouellette says:

    Hey Justin,

    Not sure if you know me but I’m Nick Ouellette from 5th tri, I’ve been to sports club and mopal in the past.

    Anyway, this blog was an excellent idea. Free thinking students need to communicate more often through methods like this, if not in person. The sharing of information, personal experiences, and the wealth of knowledge that our own insight can provide each other is invaluable to us as students in the chiropractic profession.

    That being said, your topic of the above post is definitely relevant, and I believe those who experience what you felt upon completing ART are able to continually challenge themselves to become better. I’ve attended only one motion palpation seminar, and when I was finished I felt as if I was lost before attending; I realized that the amount of useful clinical information was so immense that simply going through the motions at school appeared to be dangerously insufficient. I felt like the information I learned was essential to my education, but if I remained complacent in seeking this information (attending seminars, clubs, open adjusting, even engaging professors one on one) I would be grossly unprepared to treat any patient.

    At first, I felt a resentment to the school for not incorporating “seminar learned stuff” into our core curriculum. I then realized that this was a rookie criticism, probably a little selfish as well. I decided that by attending a seminar I was doing myself an extracurricular service, and that anything I could do to gather useful information from knowledgeable individuals with a command of our profession would be beneficial to my education.

    Upon completion of the seminar, I was baffled at how little I really knew, not just when compared to the instructor (who seemed to be omniscient) but compared to everything I had learned up to that point. I also felt inadequate as my capacity to treat someone was so very limited. Only then did I take a step back and ponder the meaning of being a student. You gotta learn what you can, piece by piece, one step at a time. As long as you have that desire to become better for your patients, any knowledge you take away from an educational opportunity is a success.

    I look at all the docs that teach us now and regard them as students just like us- a little older, but also still very much in pursuit of the same knowledge we are. After all, learning is a life long experience. And I’m not taking that dirt nap for a while.

    • Nick,
      great comment and thought process. The fact that you took the time to read and post a well thought out comment like this speaks volumes about the student you are Doc you will become. I went through the exact same thing in regards to resenting the school after I started taking seminars. I finally realized that the school gave me the foundation to learn. They did not teach me everything, but they gave me the ability to engage and process new concepts. The school allowed for learning chances in club in which a whole new world opened up for me. Thinking back to ART, it is hugely anatomy based. You have to know where the structures are and what they do. Compared to some other people at the seminar, I felt I was very advanced in that regard. That is all due to learning the anatomy at school. I was a Pychology major in college, so my basic science background was lacking to say the least.

      Anyway, I hope you continue to follow the blog, and please pass it along to other students if you feel it could help or possibly give them some ideas for themselves in future practice.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. […] easy to leave this weekend totally overwhelmed and feeling dumber than when I got there. Luckily, I have rationalized my thinking in the past, and actually left feeling really good. Now, I just need to sit down and figure out exactly how […]

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