Learning a new Language

“The most important opinion you have is the one you have of yourself, and the most significant things you say all day are those things you say to yourself.”

Your mind is the most powerful asset you own. It can also be a very vulnerable place if you let it be.

For some reason, I’ve always identified as a big thinker. Maybe blame it on the only child syndrome, where you only have yourself and your thoughts to entertain the long hours. This overactive imagination and overthinking contributed to an overall fascination with the world in my later years and also the tendency to unravel.  Also known as spiraling, I have been prone to taking one little thing and making it into a larger, more terrifying thing at an astonishing rate. I saw this funny quote the other day. “I got 99 problems and 89 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for absolutely no logical reason.” (Source: ecards.com)

And I don’t think that I am alone in this kind of thinking, it’s easy to do when your mind is free to roam wild.  I’ve been speaking to myself in a new language though, and I’m learning it slowly and it truly does take as much practice as if you are learning French or Italian.

here are some examples of the changes I’m making

Instead of I will, say I am.
Why this helps: I do ‘I will’ lists all of the time. I encourage students to make bucket lists, goals list, language goals, so on. They are useful. But one morning I divided my paper by Where I am and Where I’d Like to be. For both lists I used ‘I am…” and I found that to be very powerful! You’re already envisioning your goal and that’s a surefire way to achieve it.  It seems that much more real. When I read in the morning my goals in the I am form I feel much more motivated. “I am working at a non-profit organization, I am 110 pounds, I am… whatever the goals may be.

Instead of should have, say Next Time I know.
Why this helps: ‘Should have’ means kicking yourself, ‘should have’ means regret over something in the past (literally and linguistically) ‘should have’ means it’s too late now anyway so why even bring it up. Next time I know is smart, Next time I know is recognition of a mistake and a solution for the future.  Next time I know is a future reminder to do better, ‘should have’ is counterproductive.

Instead of not enough, say enough
Why this helps: Don’t fall into the not enough trap. Not enough time, not enough work done, not enough pretty. Each time you let this thought fall into your mind you are convincing yourself there’s not enough x/y/z. The only thing waiting for you on the other side of that is inadequacy and frustration. Here’s a good time to practice gratitude. What are you given? You are given the same amount of time that was given to the greatest and the best.  That’s not enough? Not enough is an excuse to complain.

The most important part about learning a new language is to not be afraid to make mistakes, because they will happen. How are you supposed to be fluent unless you make mistakes while practicing? Mistakes are a part of life, and the biggest lesson is to say sorry to yourself and move on. I love, love this quote from Maya Angelou which ties it all together. Speak nicer to both others and yourself today.

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”
― Maya Angelou


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