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The Learning Pit - why we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Jun 30, 2022


Something I don't think spoken enough about is the uncomfortable stage of learning.  It makes sense, talking about being uncomfortable can be uncomfortable and require us to be vulnerable to want to admit it.  It can also feel like a bad thing, like who wants to feel uncomfortable?

So let's break this down a bit as it's time to normalise that the learning process has lots of great emotions and parts that feel good as well as frustration, stress and overwhelm just to name a few.  

If we have a fixed mindset about a particular thing you are learning, these feelings can make us go straight back to our comfort zone and give up.  It's easy to decide "this isn't for me, if it was it would be easy".  

When we are seeing the learning process through a growth mindset lens, we can recognise that this is a normal part of the learning process.  Because when you look at the neuroscience you can see that your brain is working damn hard to create new connections.  And because these are new, it is hard work.  It kind of feels like walking through the jungle with a machete.  It's tiring and feels so hard.  Think back to when you were trying to learn a new language or musical instrument; often after an hour's lesson you feel both mentally and physically exhausted.  And you are, it's hard work.

And when we are tired it is very easy to feel these emotions at the base of the pit.  There is some interesting research around learning that says that when we are feeling the most frustrated with putting these connections together, our brain is doing the most learning work.  So it's important and necessary.  And normal!

Of course once we get out the pit it feels pretty damn good,  Is there a better feeling when you nail that song you've been practising for the very first time, or when you do that excel formula without having to look up the instructions.  But it's not long before this level of mastery gets comfort and if you're a life time learner it is time to enter the pit again.