Thinking too much about what I’m going to write before I actually start writing can stop me in my tracks, and sometimes even means I don’t write at all.
Likewise, wondering how my words will land with you as you read them, also has me hesitate. These are just a couple of the ways I stop myself, and not just in writing but in other areas that are important to me.
It’s when I’m concerned about screwing up that I can act too quickly or not at all. It’s the same pattern that lessens the performance of top athletes as well as intermittent bloggers!
Yet most learning comes from doing, experimenting and playing; from messing up, falling over, getting things ‘wrong’, re-adjusting, rinsing and repeating, until we eventually get closer or even actually get things ‘right’. The more we experiment and play, the more likely we are to succeed… in the end.
Playing is how we learned as kids and if we allow it, as adults too.
As toddlers we didn’t worry about looking stupid, making fools of ourselves, or messing up. We learned to speak by saying a bunch of very weird things, making odd noises and getting our words all ‘wrong’, we learned to walk by falling over… a lot!
When we over think we tie ourselves in knots. When we experiment and practice, reality lets us know how we’re doing (sometimes immediately, humorously or even painfully) but we get to learn more quickly than waiting to do something perfectly straight off the bat.
At one point, I worked with smokers who wanted to quit smoking, those who did all learned from their lapses and relapses, until after a number of attempts at stopping, they finally stopped.
I consider my blog a kind of ‘note to self’ and I’m certainly no stranger to over thinking. It seems most beguiling when something looks important to me. In reality, thinking too much, especially when learning (and we’re always learning) is usually less effective than discovering through doing.
I’m in the Dordogne just now, in France, staying with a friend, Sue Knight, who is also a mentor and who has encouraged me, probably more than anyone, to learn (and teach) through doing; through experience.
Sue and I met when I went to India to take part in a course she was running there. I could have waited for a later course in the UK but I chose to crack on, and do the earliest one, which was in India. In doing the training there, I discovered an incredible country, made some extraordinary friends and met people I still work with and learn from more than a decade later.
I could so easily have talked myself out of the trip, as in many ways it didn’t really make sense at the time. Had I had spent too much time mulling it over, I might not have done it but I chose the experience and went anyway.
Last year I travelled with Sue to assist on courses, in Greece and South Africa as well as here in France and in Edinburgh, none of which I could have predicted all those years ago but which I’ve very much appreciated and enjoyed!
When we try to control the uncontrollable or to predict the unpredictable, we miss out. When we allow fear of looking stupid or being judged to get in the way of living and learning, we also miss out. And yet when we let go, when we trust, and by that I mean trust ourselves and life, then life is beautiful, even when it isn’t.
When we can find the humour in all the failing, looking stupid, judging, being judged, and messing up, then we get to live more fully and freely. All these things are part of creating new experiences and making new memories. Playing too safe can sometimes mean not playing at all.
When I started writing this I wasn’t sure what I was going to write. I had an idea I wanted to mention a course Sue and I are running in October in Edinburgh but it felt more important just to write, and to share something that may be useful to someone reading it.
I’ve been lucky enough to learn with Sue in many different counties but hosting training with her in my hometown is particularly special. My experience of Sue’s courses are that they are always a celebration of life, one where learning NLP magically emerges in the process.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn NLP and especially if you’ve wanted to learn with Sue, the October course is a chance to do so, and in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. If you’d like to join us you can find more details here.
It’s interesting how, by setting an intention and get started, we can create a path to exactly where we want to be 🙂