We are all born into the world without knowing how to do much of anything. We can’t walk, talk or use utensils to feed ourselves. We can’t dress or clean ourselves.
Over time we start to pick up these skills through repetitive practice and lots of effort. It’s quite a while before we master these skills.
While some things may come easier to some people, without a lot of trial and error, it’s unlikely we will get far with any particular endeavor. It takes tremendous perseverance, which is why modern parenting philosophy tends to highlight the importance of effort over final product.
Blind praise can lead children to believe that they are intrinsically talented as opposed to learning to achieving mastery through their serious efforts.
I am taking this journey back to our early childhood development to make a point. Nobody starts off being good at anything, except for the exceptional savant.
So how do we get good at things?
When we are younger, we pursue areas of interest, and through practice, sometimes these become skills that we may use throughout our lives.
It’s no different when we are older, except that we feel all the pressures of society, as well as our own judgments, regarding what has value and what we think is worthy of our efforts. Will we be able to master it? Will it make us money? Earn us respect, etc?
It’s often all these questions and judgements that can keep us from pursuing anything. It can be very helpful to really consider why we are interested in a particular thing. Is it all about external recognition, or is it more about internal goals? Is it about professional ambition, creative expression, financial gain, or something else?
By breaking these goals down, we can start to figure out what’s really important to us, and then direct our efforts accordingly.
Most people can become reasonably good at something that they focus their energy on, with enough perseverance. The hardest part is figuring out what area is worthy of our efforts.
I work with numerous “successful” people, in skilled respected professions, with high salaries, that are unhappy with the work they do, but don’t know how to switch directions, after investing so much of their lives in their chosen career path.
Don’t just focus on something because someone else thinks it’s a good career, or one that will earn you respect, as well as a high salary. Find a direction that really makes sense to you, whether it be a career path or person exploration. The closer you are to identifying what is right for you, the more likely you are to find something that you are really good at, and that you truly enjoy.
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