We create narratives about ourselves that become deeply entrenched in our minds and ways of being. Many of them are useless and counterproductive.
One of mine is that I am bad at learning languages. This is an artifact from junior high school. I took two years of French and, while I did ok, I didn’t love it. I hated my French III teacher, fought with her, called her an inappropriate name one day, and got kicked out of class. That was the end of my French language experience.
I have no recollection of why I chose to learn French instead of Spanish. I grew up in Dallas and now live in Colorado, so Spanish would have been a much more useful language to learn.
I recently spent two weeks in Mexico. While I was there, I realized that I was tired of not being able to say simple things in Spanish. More importantly, I was endlessly anxious whenever I said buenos dias, buenas tardes, or buenas noches since I always got them mixed up.
I had a similar childhood narrative around horses. My brother had a horse accident when we were little kids and I decided I was afraid of horses. He went the other direction and got a horse and became a great rider. Amy loves horses, so this has been an inhibitor in our time together since I never want to do anything involving horses. A few years ago we did a week-long vacation at a place that had a program to get comfortable with horses.
I painted a horse, I groomed horse, and I rode a horse. After a week, I was able to delete my self-limiting narrative about my relationship with horses.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been spending at least ten minutes a day on each of Duolingo and Busuu. They are different but both good. While a few hours on an app is a tiny beginning to learning a language, I already feel more comfortable just being around Spanish, saying a few words (mostly greetings), and am recognizing some of the things others are saying.
These days, when I catch myself repeating a self-created narrative, I’ve begun questioning each one of them. So far, none have held up to scrutiny as an actual thing.