Meaningful, Episode 2, from the mini-series about freedom of thinking and autodidactism: in this episode: Self-Confidence and Internal Resistance!
It takes true self-trust to walk the path less trodden, and embarking on a serious self-directed learning project is such a path. It is very normal to encounter friends and family who ask you “Why?” in such a way that it diminishes your assuredness in your own inner voice…and it is even more common to encounter internal resistance and doubt.
The second most common question you will hear from friends and family, if you begin exploring any topic seriously is, “Do you intend to go back to school for that?” Which implies, of course, if you want a real education in the matter at hand, you obviously must be planning on going to school, and paying someone else to teach you how to think.
Luckily, the tools to think were marvelously pre-installed in your body-mind, and must be just supplemented by confidence required to use them.
When uncertainty arises, it comes in various forms. Steven Pressfield in The War of Art (1:07) calls this feeling Resistance. It might show up as embarrassment, self-doubt, insecurity, or outright disavowal. The key to progress is building the self-trust to overcome these various forms of resistance.
My own story includes two major self-directed learning projects. The first began when I was twelve. I was fascinated by sewing and clothing design, and while there is nothing inherently odd about that, I felt the weirdness and insecurity that indicated resistance. My internal dialog went something like, “I’m a smart girl, I should be interested in something more serious than fashion- science, literature, fine arts- but this is a superficial pursuit that’s beneath me.”
But the reality is we can’t truly choose what skills soothe and engage us, just as we can’t really choose what or who we love. Now, decades later, I’m proud of my skills and our business, and I understand better their purpose in my life.
The second major self-directed learning project I have taken on is, of course, learning Arabic and through this about the Arabic-speaking world. This began in earnest when I was 33. And once again, I felt this same weirdness and insecurity. “This has no connection to my work…Why would I spend time on this? It has nothing to do with my career goals..” and so forth.
The beautiful thing is that life expands, and it can hold many facets, and many layers. I can do this, and that. There is no reason you can’t have multiple projects in very different realms over the course of your life. They make you a fascinating multi-dimensional being.
When you begin these projects that transform your life, you won’t really know why. You’ll just hear the small voice inside you urging you on.
But then, 5, 10, 20 years later- the reasons will become clear, through the lessons learned and the way you have grown. Everything becomes clearer with time.
The episode ends with four tips for gently building the confidence and self-trust to begin a major project.