Last week we went through the four stages of learning. We talked about an important step to learn anything more easily: Don’t judge yourself (and don’t judge yourself for judging yourself!)
Your inner critic tends to kick in as you’re learning something new. Ironically, you can teach yourself to stop self-judging by using the four steps of learning. Here’s how:
1. Unconscious incompetence. Moving out of this stage is all about awareness. You may be judging yourself harshly about not knowing what you don’t know without even knowing it! If you feel especially anxious, fearful, defeated, or powerless, consider the possibility that you are self-judging. A journal is an excellent tool in this stage. Ask yourself open-ended questions, such as “What will move me toward where I want to go?” or “What am I afraid of?” and allow the answers to come. Adopt a perspective that there are no right or wrong answers. You are a simply a detective, uncovering clues.
2. Conscious incompetence. The key factor that moves you out of this stage is commitment. You now have clarity about what you want to learn. The only way to begin the process of learning is to make a decision that you’re going to do it. Continue to observe what you say about yourself, and then apply the Friend Rule. Would you use this language in reply to something that your best friend did? Probably not. Rewrite your self-criticisms into phrases that you would say to encourage another. Then read your rewrite aloud to yourself. Post it where you see it throughout the day and re-read. This will help develop an attitude of latitude – giving you the space you need to make mistakes that are an inherent part of learning.
3. Conscious competence. The key factor that moves you through this stage? Practice. Learning is not a linear process. There will be days with backward steps. With a strong commitment in place from stage 2, you’ll have this to support you when you lose some ground. Don’t give up. Be kind to yourself (your attitude of latitude) and add liberal amounts of sincere gratitude. When you focus on the good in your life and the progress you have made, you put yourself in a position to expand the good more quickly and easily. Objectively look at how far you’ve come and be grateful.
4. Eventually you’ll experience periods of unconscious competence. Enjoy them. As part of this stage, embrace that achieving your goal is not about the accomplishment itself, but about who you become through the process of achievement. You cannot reach this level of mastery without being more positive and encouraging, having more perseverance, and developing greater self discipline. What you’re doing to silence your inner critic and build self trust by learning a new skill will influence everything you attempt for the good. Celebrate your growth!
Going from clueless to competent is achieved most quickly when you learn to move through the four steps of learning without judging yourself. You travel faster when you’re not fighting wars within. From awareness to commitment through practice to mastery…may the coming year be an amazing year of growth and learning for you.