The Dishes Won’t Wash Themselves
It is not enough to know that washing dishes is a good thing, that it helps you keep a clean kitchen. The dishes won't wash themselves.
The same is true of every mental tool. No matter how long you have used a tool and no matter how convinced you are that it works, you still need to make a conscious decision to use it. You don’t get the benefits if you don’t take the action. This comes up often with people who have learned “thinking on paper” from me. They know it’s a good tool, but they don’t use it when they need it. They don’t take the extra step.
The same thing happens with introspective techniques. They help you calm down when you’re upset, but you have to remind yourself to try them. This is true of every tool. I’ve taken Alexander Technique lessons for 15 years, but I still find that I have to remind myself to use the technique when I notice tension in my neck and shoulders.
There is a general principle to be drawn here: having a problem and wanting it to go away is not enough. You need to notice that you're having the problem, and choose to enact the steps that will solve it.
The tools don’t magically solve your problems. The #1 thing that solves your problems is noticing that you have them, and deciding to try to do something about them.
That’s when the tools come in. The benefit of learning tools — “thinking on paper,” introspection, the Alexander Technique, and others, is that if you notice there’s a problem, you know ready-made steps to help you solve it.
If you don't know exactly how to solve a problem, "thinking on paper" is often a good general first step!