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You Can Always Have a Beginner's Mind - Even When You're a Master

Ever heard of Beginner's Mind?


Beginner's Mind is the idea that you can approach any situation as though you have a completely blank slate and you're coming to it fresh, even when you have a lot of experience.


Here's a little context for why I'm bringing this up:


The other day, while I was out driving in my cozy Honda HR-V with the heated seat on in the chilly spring weather, I was listening to this fabulous podcast episode called “Confidence Matters” from The Life Coach School, and it sparked an idea about Beginner’s Mind.


In the episode, Brooke Castillo talks about the difference between self-confidence and confidence.


Here’s what I got from the episode.


We have confidence around activities and experiences that we’re familiar with – and probably pretty skilled in too.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP,) you’re probably super confident in your ability to empathize with someone’s emotions, in your ability to get things done with high standards, and in your ability to get deep with people pretty fast.


Here’s the thing though – we learn new things and start new things all the time.


Even when we’re learning something new, we can still have a kind of confidence!


Yes, even if we don’t have any experience in learning a new language or getting outside to walk or having emotional conversations with loved ones.


That’s where self-confidence comes in.


Unlike confidence, which depends on having accomplished something in the past and feeling proud and capable because of the result, self-confidence comes from believing in ourselves before we have proof.


That sounds counterintuitive when you're thinking that confidence has to come from things that you've accomplished.


But what Brooke Castillo says in the episode is that you gain self-confidence by believing in your:


· ability to learn new things

· capacity to do stuff that's hard and still figure it out

· desire to help people


Here’s where Beginner’s Mind comes in.


Imagine that you’re a kid again for a hot second.


As a kid you're excited to play, you're excited to learn, everything is new and exciting, and you're taking in a lot of information, all the time.


Think about when you learned to ride a bike or you learned a new sport or you learned a style of dance or you learned how to play well with others (some people never learned that, but you’re an HSP, so I KNOW you did).


There's a period of time where you don't know what you're doing, but you get to learn.


You have, maybe someone guiding you, or you have something that you're learning from.


You get to approach the situation with a sense of curiosity and a sense of openness.


You have no expectations on yourself to be a certain way or to be perfect at it right away.


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THAT’S what Beginner’s Mind is – approaching each situation with a sense of openness, curiosity, and no expectations on yourself.

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When you have beginner's mind, you have the self-confidence to approach something new and believe you can get better at it with time and practice.


We have to learn new things all the time; the world is changing.


As a highly sensitive person you're most likely a lifelong learner.


You want to have new ideas and concepts coming into your life.


You want to experience growth and to have new knowledge.


Having that Beginner's Mind takes you out of the perfectionism. It gives you permission to make mistakes, to go on the journey, and not fuss about what the result is.


Beginner's Mind appeared in my life recently in a hilarious way.


My friend, Madeline, and I have decided to take up dance fitness, and we found these videos online by The Fitness Marshall.


Look him up. He's hilarious, and he makes it look SO easy.


They do a fitness routine to a single song, somewhere between 2-3 minutes, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal, right?


Oh, my God! I look ridiculous! And it was so fun!


But I did NOT look as smooth and polished as I wanted to.


I looked absolutely comical, trying to learn these new moves and these new skills and these new techniques. And I look ridiculous.


But it's really fun, and I also know that that's part of the process, that I'm going to have to rewind the same 10 seconds 20 times to get the stupid kick-toss combination because that coordination does not come naturally to me!


There's PLENTY to learn as I go.


Here’s what the alternate reality looks like where I think my experience should have gone a certain way:


I would have tried a few moves and thought, “Well, this is dumb. Why is it so hard? They should make it more accessible for beginners!”


And then I probably would have given up.


I would have sat down and consoled myself by watching something else, doom-scrolling through other dance videos, fantasizing about being as good at dancing as these TikTok professionals, and feeling bad about myself.


But I didn't. Instead, I decided to keep trying it out.


I put the sequences together (I still look ridiculous), and I know that in order to get as good as the people in the video, I'm gonna have to practice.


It's all about focusing on the process, learning through your mistakes and your failures, because those are going to happen.


I want to make a quick comment about failure too, because when we say fail, it tends to imply a binary, that there's a requirement to “pass” that we have somehow missed, and then we make that mean something about us.


But ultimately “failure” is really saying that something we tried didn't work. That's it.


And that's okay. Things that we try don't work all the time. That’s how we learn what does work.


So, having a beginner's mind means that you can give yourself the grace and the permission to try something for the first time, or maybe the second time, or maybe the third time, or maybe the two-hundredth time, and still understand that you're learning, and that’s okay.


You can have Beginner’s Mind even when you’re a master at something, or highly skilled.


You can always choose to have a mentality of openness, curiosity, and willingness to learn new things.


There's always a new nuance, there's always a new perspective, and there's always a new way that someone says something that might spark new understanding for you.


When you close yourself off to even a single nugget of insight because you think you "already know," you reinforce for yourself that there's nothing new to learn.


You become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the cycle continues.


So consider this as you're going about your day.


Are you stopping yourself from having a Beginner’s Mind? Here’s how you can tell – are you:


· acting like I already know everything there is to know about this?

· telling yourself things like, “I've already done all the things!”?

· approaching this with a sense of judgment on yourself?


If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re probably wrapping yourself up in a lot of perfectionism and expectations.


Here are some empowering questions you can ask yourself to get you out of your funk and into Beginner’s Mind:


  • Where can I find opportunities to show up with curiosity and openness, as though I still have more things to learn?

  • How can you approach situations in my life with more fun?

  • How can I make it more fun?

  • What can I learn from this situation?

  • What aspect of this have I never heard before?

  • What new ideas does this spark for me?


I recommend writing your answers down, but you can also think about them in your head, and inevitably you're going to have some new insights.


What’s one thing you can do to show up with a Beginner’s Mind today?


I know you've got a thirst to grow, and this is right up your alley.


You've got this!


Big, warm vibes your way -

Steph

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