6 Ways to Help You Learn

I hate learning in front of people. To stand up without preparation where people can watch me make mistakes is hard for me. It’s not my learning style. In fact, it’s one of my biggest personal challenges. But in life you can feel afraid, and learn anyway.

What brought all this up? I went to my first class of JKA Karate  at Kio Karate in January because my partner kept asking me to go to class with him. I said I would go in a moment of weakness. I never dreamt I’d want to keep training.

Karate is mentally and physically challenging. I love it… I love that I don’t have the ability to think about anything else while I train. I’m using new muscles. I’m making new friends. I can see my progress. I love the workout. I leave the dojo every time in a happy stupor of exhaustion.

And I hate it. Because I’m uncomfortable most of the time.

Here’s just one example why…  On top of training three times per week, I spent 30 minutes on my own last weekend practicing one basic block to get the flow of the movement. I finally had the general idea of the movement. It felt good. Last night, the instructor added that block to a short combination, and I lost all memory of it. Total blank. Stood there with no idea what to do next. Sigh.

It’s humbling. But I keep on training because I refuse to let my fear make me quit. The only one who can make you feel stupid or quit is you.

Still afraid? Learn anyway. Here are six ways to help you learn and feel better:

  1. Speak kindly to yourself. Think of what you’d say to someone else. It takes a while to learn how to do that. It’s okay. You’re getting better. All that matters is what you tell yourself while you’re learning.
  2. Create a realistic expectation of yourself. You won’t be an expert your first try or even your second. In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly says that one of the keys to success is practicing a specific task for 10,000 hours.
  3. Breathe. If you start to panic, that’s okay. Just breathe. Slowly.
  4. Laugh at yourself, and try it again.
  5. Remember the last time you mastered something.
  6. Ask for help if you need it.

What new thing makes you feel stupid or afraid? A new project at work, volunteering on a board of directors, writing a report, or learning to knit. Do it this week, and let me know how it goes! I could use the inspiration for my next karate class!




  1. Mark Pridham on February 11, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Great post Catherine,

    I remember going back to school, when I was 40, to take the BITS program at NBCC-SJ. Here I was taking a very condensed and advanced course in IT, and I barely knew how to turn a computer on at the time. Scared? Oh yah!! Especially sitting in a class of younger people who practically grew up using computers. But, I got through it and ended up graduating with High Honours. Who-woulda-thunk-it!! Lesson learned .. anything you put your mind to, you can do.

  2. Catherine on February 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Great to hear I’m not alone 🙂 As Wayne Dyer says, I don’t want to die with my music still in me. I won’t let fear stop me anymore

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