As adults, we want to be great at new things, even from the start. Say, for example, that you decide to pick up a guitar and learn how to play. Chances are, you’re going to sound pretty terrible at first. It can be both humbling and humiliating to struggle through the chords and come to terms with the fact that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to actually make beautiful music.
This is when your inner critic creeps in with unhelpful and oftentimes untrue thoughts, telling you that you’ll never get the hang of it. When you don’t succeed as quickly as you’d like, it’s easy to throw in the towel and give up.
Trial and Learn Mindset
As a professional coach, I see my clients bumping up against this struggle all the time. Instead of giving up when things get challenging, I try to encourage them to adopt a “trial and learn” mindset. And they’re often like, “Ummm, what are you talking about, Carrie?”
Hear me out… the next time you try something difficult, what if instead of getting defeated, you reframe your thoughts and look at your efforts as a learning experience instead of a failure? I know, I know. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible to practice self-compassion and create a more positive experience for yourself.
Due to the fact that we are suckers for quick results, we can easily get dissuaded when we don’t see success in our immediate future. Thankfully, there are ways to retrain your brain to take the discouraging information you’re receiving and turn it into something more positive and productive.
Here are some helpful tips that I share with my clients:
- Our thoughts are not always facts. While they can certainly feel convincing, it’s helpful to remember that our thoughts are not always telling us the truth. As our thoughts come and go, we have the power to look at them objectively and choose to take a different view despite our original thinking.
- Reframing is a powerful tool. By zooming out and gaining perspective, reframing allows us to either change our thought pattern or continue our current thinking because it’s beneficial. Switching up how we think about a given situation can help us problem solve and gain helpful perspective.
- Look at it like an experiment. The next time you bump up against self-doubt, see what works and doesn’t work for you. Does it help you to talk to a mental health professional or a trusted friend? Does it provide relief to journal, meditate, or take a walk? This is all helpful information for whenever your inner critic comes knocking. Sometimes learning what doesn’t work for us is just as valuable as something that does, and it can bring us closer to finding what does work as we set up the next “experiment.
- Realize that it’s ok to “fail.” We’ve all experienced the sting of failure. It’s part of the human experience, so try your best to remember that as you’re trying something new. It’s not all supposed to be easy and you’re actually doing important, formative work. Try asking what you can learn about yourself or this situation and how you can use that information going forward.
- Create a positive space for yourself. It’s helpful to carve out time and space for yourself while taking on new tools and techniques. Getting vulnerable, trying something new, paying attention to your thoughts, and reframing your thinking is a tall order, so try to practice self-care and patience along the way.
Maybe you’re starting a new job and feeling like an imposter or you’re learning to bake and keep burning your creations… it’s OK to not be great at something right away and it’s OK if that doesn’t feel so great. I’m a professional coach and I still felt insecure when I started playing the violin this past year. You’re not alone in feeling that pit in your stomach when performance doesn’t match expectations.
The next time you stumble during that presentation or burn your cookies, do your best to remember that you’re building important skills and meet yourself with kindness and understanding. You have the power to change up your thinking, knowing that with time and patience, you will get to where you want to be….and we’ll be here if you’d like a little extra support along the way.
By Carrie Gregory, NBC-HWC, Coach at Sanvello
Carrie Gregory believes in a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. She is passionate about inspiring others to unlock their own potential and live happier, healthier lives. As a Sanvello Coach, she works with clients to discover and leverage strengths, values, and past successes to help them with today’s challenges.
When she’s not seeing clients, Carrie is a military wife, a mother to one fabulous kiddo, and enjoys living a life filled with creativity and adventure.