Our recent visit to Canada had me reflecting on my French language skills. I’ve wanted to speak French for such a long time. At first I dabbled with audio recordings before moving on to group lessons. Finally I decided to fully commit and I began working with the most amazing tutor.
Despite all the lessons, there are times when I believe that my French still sucks – and it is a dreadful feeling. But our trip to Canada made me realise how much I’ve improved. As soon as we landed in Toronto, where French is sometimes spoken, I realised that I could read all the signs. And when the announcements came over in French, I understood way more than I didn’t.
Although I hadn’t realised it, there was no doubt that my French skills had improved markedly. I had definitely grown.
The whole experience reminded me of the fact that growth actually requires discomfort.
In fact, whenever I start to feel too comfortable in my life, I take a good look at what is going on. Because if I’m comfortable there’s a very strong chance that I’m not growing.
I see so many women holding themselves back because they want to avoid the discomfort of that comes with the incompetence of trying something new. We start out life willing (and having) to learn everything, and yet as adults, many of us tend avoid those uncomfortable feelings at all costs.
We get so used to being competent that we refuse to put ourselves in situations where we feel anything but.
Now, on one hand, this makes perfect sense. Our confidence is connected to our competence, no one wants to play in a space where they lack confidence. But we can’t grow our confidence if we don’t build competence. If we’re not careful, it can become a vicious cycle.
One where we never end up chasing our dreams.
While the discomfort is part of the growth process, there are some things you can do to make the process easier. Here are my top tips.
If you want growth, then you need to get ready to feel uncomfortable
One: Take on a beginners mindset
Rather than wanting to quit as soon as you start to feel incompetent, take a more curious approach. Try the things, take the steps and tap into how you feel. Focus on the journey, think about what’s coming easily, what’s enjoyable and what feels most uncomfortable. You will learn a lot about yourself as you move toward your goal.
Two: Be kind to yourself
As always, watch the stories you’re telling yourself. Make sure those words swirling around in your head aren’t sabotaging your growth. Concentrate on the fact that you are putting yourself out there, and learning and growing. Be your own cheerleader. Try speaking to yourself like you might speak to a little girl who is learning something new. You wouldn’t berate her, you’d support her. Use encouraging, supportive words with yourself and celebrate every little win.
Three: Remind yourself of everything you’ve learned before
If you’ve learned before (which you must have, if you are reading this now) then you absolutely have it in you to learn again. Think back to the times when you were a kid, where you tried and tried until you mastered something. Tap into that energy and bring it to your latest learning experience. And remember, you now have years of know-how behind you and an understanding of your learning style. These things make learning easier.
Four: Give yourself sign posts so you can understand how much you have grown
As happened to me with my French, it is easy to think that you’re not moving forward in a certain area. This is especially true if you don’t put yourself in positions that test your skills. Make sure you have clear mileposts to measure your progress, so you can understand far you have come.
Where in your life are you growing right now? And where have you held yourself back because you feel uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments section below.
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