Learning and Struggle

Nobody had ever told me that it would take time and effort to learn a skill.

Nobody had ever told me that I would struggle while learning. I would feel incompetent on the way. It would feel difficult. It would feel painful. 

I didn’t know that this struggle was a stage of learning.

I thought it was just me who couldn’t do things. I thought the struggle would not disappear. I thought I could not handle it.

That’s why I had quit learning guitar, and dreaded giving presentations.

In my 30’s I learned that the struggle was a natural part of the learning process.

The Conscious Competence Learning Model mentions it as “conscious incompetence” - when you know what you can’t do.  Before that you have no idea how the process would be so you are in the stage of unconscious incompetence. When you hit the stage of being aware of how little you know and you can, it is quite a shock in the beginning , if you persevere, you reach to the Conscious Competence  stage where you are aware of what you know and you use your knowledge very consciously, step by step with full attention, if you keep on practicing then you arrive to the last level of learning which is Unconscious Competence - now the skills is natural for you, you don’t need to exert yourself into it. it is muscle memory - like driving or riding a bike.

Now that I know the stages of the learning, I can prepare myself for what is to come. I know that I will struggle in the beginning, and I know that it will change when I keep on practicing. I create the conditions that enable the practising in the best way: the timing, the frequency, the duration and the location of my practice plays an important part. I celebrate my practice, rather than my performance. Occasionally - maybe even often I judge myself and fell into despair. In these moments I take a pause and let go, remind myself why it mattered to me in the first place and come back to my practice. With every pausing and letting go I am also training the skill of self compassion. Learning a new skill goes hand in hand with self compassion.

How have you experienced learning a new skill? Have you ever given up because of the struggle? What new skill are you learning right now?

Isil Uysal Calvelli

If you ask me who I am in one word, I say “Human”. If I should do it with two words, I say “Loving Human”. If I am allowed to do it in three words, I say “Loving Creative Human”

I create words, emotions, connections, energy and spaces. 

I do that through coaching, writing, speaking, podcasting and training.


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