Learning boosts your confidence and self-esteem
When life throws struggles and discouragements our way and things are not all plain sailing, it's easy to lose confidence, feel rubbish about ourselves and get a bit stuck. The temptation to give up, stick with what we know and not risk discomfort or failure can be great.
Thomas Edison, who invented the lightbulb, when asked by a reporter 'How did it feel to fail so many times' replied, 'I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.'
When we're learning we are growing and developing ourselves, and, in my experience, it feels good.
It may sound simple, but it can be a real game-changer.
The benefits of learning
There are so many benefits to learning - below is a list of some of the ways we benefit. They are all ingredients to boosting our confidence and self-esteem:
- Self-awareness leading to change
- Gaining a new skill
- Feeling fulfilled
- Feeling good about yourself
- Getting lost in another world
- Giving your mind something productive to do
- It's forward looking
- It's a challenge
- Proving something to yourself and others
- Feeling more equipped
- Balancing out the things you're not so good at
- Finding out what you're good at and what you like doing (you can't know without trying, experimenting and pushing some doors)
Growth mindset vs fixed mindset
Our mindset is a massive aspect of learning.
Researcher Carol Dweck says there are two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset people think that their natural abilities and talent is what leads to success, 'either you've got it or you haven't' type of view. They would say that talent rather than effort leads to success.
In a growth mindset people believe that with time and experience their learning and intelligence can grow. They believe the effort they put in makes a difference, so putting in extra time leads to achieving more.
Ways you can learn
Once we've recognised a growth mindset is available to all, and that with time and effort we can grow and learn, we can think about what we want to learn and ways we can learn through it.
Learning is not only about formal education - there are loads of ways we can learn. Here are a few ideas of different ways:
- YouTube tutorials
- Learn from others mistakes (so much less painful than learning through our own!)
- Ask someone to show you
- Listen to podcast
- Have a go
- Self-help books
- Trial and error
- Do a course
- Pursue further education
- Repetition, repetition, repetition
- By using a growth mindset
- By becoming more self-aware
The sort of things you can learn
- A new skill
- How to do something you're not sure of, maybe a job in the home or something about technology
- A new hobby
- An essential skill
- Something that might develop your career, opportunities or options
- Rather than asking or relying on someone else to do something for you, how about have a go at learning to do it yourself
- New words to broaden your vocabulary
- A foreign language
- A musical instrument
As always I'm sure Google will be your best friend and provide you with oodles of ideas of things under these categories and more.
The 4 stages of competence
If you've got something you're learning or would like to learn, big or small, something practical or a different mindset, don't forget about the 4 stages of competence.
This has often helped me to keep going. Here's how it works:
Let's use the example of learning to drive to illustrate the point.
Stage 1. Unconsciously incompetent
You may have no idea of how hard it is to drive until you try it, and don't know whether you'd be any good at it or not until you try.
Stage 2. Consciously incompetent
You have your first driving lesson and realise it's a lot harder than you imagined. How on earth are you meant to think about and do so many things at the same time, arghhhhhhh!
Stage 3. Consciously competent
You practice hard again and again. You practice some more. All the time having to give it your full concentration.
Stage 4. Unconsciously competent
You get loads better, so it comes more naturally and you start to be able to do it without thinking too much.
When I've struggled with something new I'm learning, remembering that these stages are what we have to go through to learn anything; that it's totally normal, has encouraged me not to give up.
How long it takes to work our way through these stages depends on how big or small a task it is.
Malcolm Gladwell said, 'Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good, it's the thing that makes you good.'
Let's look at stage 2 for a minute: Consciously incompetent. This stage feels horrible. It's uncomfortable, difficult, humiliating, humbling, awkward and a struggle. The temptation to give up, not bother and stay in our comfort zone is massive. It's hard to not be good at something, especially if you don't feel great about yourself to start with.
The reminder that it's a normal part of learning, doesn't stay that way and is a necessary part of the journey towards stage 4 (unconsciously competent) can help see us through that bit.
Whilst we may long to get to stage 4 quickly, be encouraged - if we don't give up and keep at it we will get there.
What are you learning and what stage would you say you're at?
My confidence was low and I had little faith in my ability to learn and achieve. But I found that as I nervously took one step, it lead to another, and another, and another.
I struggled, I wrestled. I shed many a tear. I felt I couldn't do it. I compared myself to others. I was painfully aware of all my inadequacies. I wanted to give up. And it was a slow journey.
But my love of learning grew, and so did my confidence. My options broadened and I felt less fearful and more hopeful. It boosted my self-esteem.
I guess it's the long game rather than a quick fix, but it will be totally worth it.
Learning is a wonderful thing and I hope you too will experience some of the many the benefits of it.
Please feel free to contact me for support if you'd like it. There really isn't a criteria of how big your problems need to be in order to access counselling. Your feelings are valid!
Ruth Gorrie. Coventry, CV2
firstname.lastname@example.org 07561 047 349