The Magic Thing That Happens When We Embrace Our Learning Curves
August 6, 2019
Have you ever wanted to try something new but been afraid you'd fail?
You're not alone.
So many of us, myself included, struggle with perfectionism. We believe this false notion that we have to be an expert at something from the moment we start working at it.
The truth is: We all have a learning curve.
The "learning curve" is a term that refers to the time and effort that is necessary to learn a task or skill. In terms of personal growth, it means that just because we've learned something doesn't mean we put that lesson into practice immediately. Just because we have access to wisdom doesn’t mean we know how to live it.
Have you ever found yourself feeling frustrated to be back in a place mentally or emotionally that you thought you had graduated from? That’s your learning curve.
Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work to notice my inner landscape. I use mindfulness practices like journaling, meditation, and talk therapy so I can be aware of my limiting beliefs and negative habits.
But that’s only half the battle. It’s another uphill climb to actually correct and transform the behavior.
On my journey towards my best self, it’s humbling to realize that I’m not as evolved as I thought I was. My inner critic’s response to realizing I’m not perfect yet is frustration, shame, and harsh judgement. When I made a mistake, fumble, or feel like I am not moving quickly enough towards perfection, that loudspeaker voice “I should know this already! What’s wrong with me?” plays on loop on my mind.
Embracing my learning curve means practicing self-compassion. It means forgiving myself for being a human being and existing in all my complex and sometimes messy glory.
Personal growth isn't linear.
Making progress doesn’t always look like taking steady, graceful leaps into perfection.
Sometimes we slide back down the hills we’re climbing.Sometimes our steps are small.
Sometimes we stay in one place for much longer than we want.
This is part of the human experience! As you grow into the fullest version of yourself, you are constantly going to encounter things that feel new and challenging.
So many of us place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to be impressive and polished, and that sabotages opportunities for us to really learn and grow.
In Buddhism, there’s a concept called “beginner's mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even at an advanced level–like a beginner. In other words, embracing not having everything figured out.
So how do we show up compassionately for our learning curves?
Think about an area of your life in which you haven't been giving yourself permission to be a beginner—any place that makes you feel self-conscious about not really knowing what you're doing.
See if you can look at that experience with curiosity and wonder.
See if you can feel gratitude about all the things you can learn from the place you are right now.
No matter how hard the new experience will be or how badly you might fail at it, the truth is that you are allowed to not have it all figured out.
As long as you are alive, you will always be learning, growing, and expanding into your fullest self.
Imagine what’s possible when you choose to enjoy that journey.
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