Learning something new can be enriching and rewarding – but as you get older it becomes harder to embrace the new and interesting and we instead opt for the safe and secure. There is loads of research into what learning something new can do for your brain – simply google it – I did. It is no secret that it improves brain capacity, memory capability and keeps you sharp as a tack.
I love a bit of research and facts and figures that prove something I know to be true, but I am not going to bore you with my findings on google. Instead I thought I would share with you what I have noticed about learning a different skill – I am studying a new language. If you are like me, you have a long list of things you have on your bucket list. Maybe it is to learn to sing, swing dance, stand on your head or paint a masterpiece. It could be to master surfing, crochet or play tennis. What it is it does not really matter, but often we have things on our own bucket list that we never get to.
Something I have realised is there are many things that are amazing about learning something new, but what stops us in the first place is often fear. A fear of failing, of looking stupid of being ridiculous, it is so strong we don’t even try. We might come up with every excuse under the sun – I don’t have enough time, money, talent blah’d blah blah blah – but really, deep down it all comes back to the F word. Fear. So first thing is first, notice you are a tinsy bit afraid, and do it anyway.
Once you have started, you may notice the following things ( well I did anyway!) :
1. Elation at starting something new – it is exciting, lets face it. Also scary as hell, but the nervous energy is like being a kid at Xmas.
2. Moments of WTF?!?! What am I doing, I can’t do this, this is insane! I new I would be shit…..boring old story we play to ourselves to justify why we can’t do something different. Notice it and do it anyway.
3. Joy at small achievements – take the wins, they may be plentiful or small and infrequent, either way, be happy with any improvement.
4. Frustration and the urgent sense to give up – it is all part of the process. It will be easy and hard, fun and frustrating but most importantly stick with it.
5. If you drop your expectation around “how good you should be” then you take the pressure of.
What I have noticed is all of my resistances come up – all of the stories – the blaming the teacher for going to fast, the frustration as I don’t get it right for the 50th time, the exhaustion from trying over and over and over again. It has been like a movie unfolding and when I catch it, I can see the funny side.
Deep down in there, there is also a sense of satisfaction, that in some small way I am learning and growing and shifting and changing. It is testament to our potential, we all have ability to be different. We have the ability to grow.
So don’t put off learning something new, instead see it as a chance to give yourself the chance to have fun, maybe make a dick of yourself, but also maybe learning something about yourself that is beyond the ability to rock out a Dolly Parton number.