Existential Psychology

Take It Easy On Yourself While You Are Learning

By  | 

It’s not so much the subject matter that causes people to quit before they have accomplished anything of substance as it is the negative feelings that arise around the subject matter, feelings of failure, anxiety, incompetence, and disappointment. For many the process of learning is like going to the dentist and getting a root canal instead of the joyful experience it can be. The key is to take it easy on yourself while you are learning.

The biggest reason people have negative feelings around learning is that they have come to associate it with disapproving glares, cutting comments, bad grades, and other unpleasant stimuli. The dangerous teachers, and by teachers we mean anyone in a training capacity, are failed doers themselves who project their own feelings of failure and incompetence onto their pupils in order to regain some sense of efficacy. They may have worn you down over the years to the point where learning ceased to be any fun, where taking risks and making mistakes resulted in bad consequences.

If you want learning to be joyful again, the same way it was when you were a small child before being instructed that it wasn’t supposed to be fun, let go of your expectations for how much you should know, how far along you should be, and instead just give everything you have to where you are. Be willing to make mistakes, realize it’s okay not to know everything yet, that your knowledge and skills will increase organically as you go.

Some people are wound up so tight, so worried about making the smallest mistake, so afraid to take chances. They constantly get down on themselves, they think more about how impossibly far they have to go than about how far they have already come, and the result of course is that learning becomes a painful experience to be avoided whenever possible. Take it easy on yourself, celebrate the small victories, realize that all good things take a lot of time and a lot of effort, and you’ll feel that irresistible pull drawing you forward to learn and to increase your mastery in diverse areas, the same way little kids do all over the world and the same way adults would do too if they hadn’t had their natural curiosity and joy for the simple act of learning savagely beaten out of them.