“I can’t understand anything”

 

How many people have said this before about a language that they are learning? I’m sure almost everyone has said it at least once in their lives.

Saying something like this is quite harmful for your success in learning. You may as well just shoot yourself in the foot.

You see, the problem here is that when you say this about yourself, you create this reality.

What I mean by this is that you are creating an expectation for yourself to not understand anything, and this expectation makes you set your mind to believe that you won’t understand anything.

This is similar to how your beliefs about speaking affect your performance.

 

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”
—Anais Nin

 

But why does it happen?

Many people unknowingly set lower targets for themselves than they hope for in reality because they are afraid of being let down by the disappointment of failure.

Have you ever hoped so much for something only to be disappointed when it didn’t happen? After such a strong feeling of disappointment, your subconscious mind tries to protect you from feeling it again by making you believe that you are unable to achieve such high levels of success, by making you believe that you are good enough where you are. It creates a comfort zone.

But you can achieve this success. You just have to tell yourself that you can.

Instead of saying “I can’t understand anything” or “My English isn’t very good”, you could change these phrases to be more positive:

“I can understand some of it”
or even
“I can understand some of it and I will study so I can understand more next time”

“My English is ok”
or even
“My English is improving day by day because I continue to study”

Programming yourself to believe

These days, we are being brainwashed by all of the information that surrounds us. The media, the news, TV, magazines, blogs (certainly not this one!) and most of what we read on the internet, they all have us believing that the world is a dangerous place, that we are not good enough to succeed, that life is a constant fight to survive.

You don’t have to believe this if you don’t want to. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

But how can you change it? Instead of surrounding yourself with these negative messages, choose positive ones instead.

Life conditions are actually improving globally, despite all of the negative coverage we see in the media:

So how does this affect your ability to learn?

Basically, you can generalize that all people have one of two mindsets:

  • A growth mindset, or
  • A fixed mindset

A person with a growth mindset believes that there is always potential to improve, and there are limitless opportunities.

A person with a fixed mindset believes that potential for improvement is restricted, and opportunities are limited.

In terms of your language ability, if you say “I can’t understand anything”, which mindset do you think that fits into?

Don’t limit yourself.

Instead, build your potential. Tell yourself that you can do it, that you are doing it. Then, you will begin to believe in your success, and then, you will become successful.

 

Live your beliefs

Finally, it is important to put these beliefs into action. When you meet someone who speaks English, don’t automatically open by saying “My English isn’t very good”. Don’t think it either.

Instead, if you feel that you absolutely must say something about your English, you can say “I am learning English, so please speak slowly”. Or, just have a conversation like normal people do and notice how well you are speaking. Most people aren’t listening for your mistakes anyway.

This will have more positive results for your confidence because it moves you forward, not backwards.

Set the bar high. And talk to yourself positively. You will be more successful this way.

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