ChangeLearningReflectionUncategorizedMarch 6, 20240The Wild Ride of Real Learning, Part II

Museo de Min­ería y la Industria

It’s been just about a year since I wrote my last post, and I real­ize I’m find­ing out even more about learn­ing as we evolve our life here in Spain. I just reread my first “Long Wild Ride of Real Learn­ing” post, and every­thing I shared in it is still true. How­ev­er, I want to add anoth­er ele­ment that I think will be help­ful to any­one who’s on a seri­ous learn­ing jour­ney of any kind.

Giv­en that I’ve been work­ing on learn­ing the Span­ish lan­guage and cul­ture for anoth­er twelve months, you’d think I would be pret­ty per­fect by now, right? If you said “no way,” then you have much more real­is­tic expec­ta­tions than I do.

Most days, at some point I think to myself some ver­sion of, “My god, Eri­ka, you’ve been learn­ing Span­ish for 8 years now, real­ly inten­sive­ly for the past 2 years AND YOU’RE NOT 100% FLUENT YET?  What’s your problem?!”


Your Self-talk Can Real­ly Beat You Up

My neg­a­tive self-talk about this top­ic seems to have got­ten worse instead of bet­ter over the past year. I neglect to notice that I con­duct my entire life in Span­ish while we’re here. I read news­pa­pers and books in Span­ish dai­ly, rarely hav­ing to stop and look up words; I’ve been work­ing with our love­ly lawyer, Belén, to nav­i­gate the wild­ly com­plex and con­tra­dic­to­ry process of get­ting a dig­i­tal nomad visa — all in Span­ish. Youtube videos in Span­ish are my go-to to find out whether stuff I’m inter­est­ed in exists here (can we change our heat­ing sys­tem in the apart­ment to a heat pump?). Every day I have con­ver­sa­tions with friends and acquain­tances, and peo­ple often tell me how good my Span­ish is.

Instead of all these pos­i­tive things, though, what I notice are all the small mis­takes I make, the times I have to ask some­one who’s speak­ing very quick­ly to repeat them­selves, the fact that I some­times don’t know a word I want to say. Focus­ing on the neg­a­tive in this way is exhaust­ing and not fun.


Enough­ness; An Impor­tant Idea for Learning

So, what I’m try­ing to do now (as I rec­om­mend­ed last year) is to be kind to myself, and more specif­i­cal­ly to remind myself that I am enough just just as I am.  “Enough­ness” is a pow­er­ful con­cept that I learned from my friend and col­league JC Lip­pold, and it means just what it says: to acknowl­edge to your­self that who and what you are right now is, indeed, enough.

It does­n’t mean that you don’t want to keep grow­ing, and it has noth­ing to do with com­pla­cen­cy. It just means that if you are enough right now, your moti­va­tion for con­tin­u­ing to improve can be the joy of evo­lu­tion, the thrill of dis­cov­ery, and the sat­is­fac­tion of new knowl­edge and new skill.

When we feel as though we’re not enough, then all too often our moti­va­tion for improve­ment is neg­a­tive: “I want to get bet­ter because I’m not hap­py with who I am or what I can do right now.”

So these days, when my mind starts to beat me up and tell me my progress is not enough (and that there­fore I am not enough), I con­scious­ly stop and say, “I am enough. I am hav­ing a love­ly life, and enjoy­ing every day, and I am able to do every­thing I need to do to live in my adop­tive lan­guage and land.”

And once I’ve relaxed into that, it’s easy (and pret­ty joy­ful) to add — “and I’m excit­ed about con­tin­u­ing to improve.”

What are you work­ing on learn­ing and how can you start from a place of “enough’?


Big props to JC: here’s his web­site.  Thank you, buddy!

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