What is holding you back, technical difficulty or mental barrier?

Children explore everything because everything is new and everything is possible.

Children explore everything because everything is new and everything is possible.

Many of us have given up on ideas or dreams in the past because the work involved seemed too difficult. I know I have. But, was the subject too difficult? Was it really technical difficulty we faced or was it just a mental barrier we place in our own path?

Many people may shy away from a subject simply because they feel it to be too technically difficult for them to master even though they may feel drawn to the subject or carry some affinity for it. Should we feel justified in doing this?

I just returned from the Podcast Movement convention in Dallas, Texas, late last evening. I heard many great speakers and one remark stood out in my mind.

If you happen to have a passion for a particular subject and you read, fully absorb and understand two or three books on that subject then you will know 90% more than 90% of people who have just a passing interest in the subject. By definition, that makes you an expert.

In his book Mastery, Robert Greene recounts the tale of a self-taught groundbreaking linguist who discovered what prevents people from learning is not the subject itself “but rather certain learning disabilities that tend to fester and grow in our minds as we get older.”

He goes on to state what everyone who has a mind should already know but too few remember, “the human mind has limitless capabilities.”

People may also feel inferior when it comes to mastering a subject because they do not have some sort of degree in their area of interest and they have no right to declare themselves an expert without one. Are degrees necessary in order to become an expert in a particular topic or field of study? Where do these self-doubts come from? What gives rise to them?

This sense of inferiority could actually work in your favor as long as you don’t give up when attempting to master new knowledge. Greene explains why in his book.

Small children lack the ability to care and provide for themselves which is why they depend on their parents for survival. As a result, they feel inferior. Rather than a negative, this is a positive inducement for learning.

This feeling of inferiority is what drives children to learn. Instead of avoiding a difficult subject or task and labeling it too difficult to attempt, they remain open and hungry for new knowledge. They pay greater attention, experiment, adapt and learn quickly and more deeply at a young age.

As adults, we set aside our child-like sense of wonder and curiosity in favor of other more grownup (or so we think) concerns like jobs, rent, bills, status or money. We feel superior, become smug and rigid with minds that are closed off and filled with hubris.

We feel we already know what is real and true and possible. This closes our minds off to other possibilities. We become indoctrinated with a fear of the different or of the unknown.

There is hope for this stagnating and soul sucking condition. Humans have an inborn trait called neoteny which are the mental and physical traits of immaturity and we all carry these traits into adulthood. In other words, we can become child-like again in our approach to learning. These traits can be called upon at anytime. It is a choice!

We have within each of us the ability to return to a child-like state with a sense of awe and wonder, to reacquaint ourselves with the spirit of out inner child. We can become curious again. When we do, we can learn whatever we set our minds to learn.

Reuniting with our inner child, and no longer happy with the status quo, we will boldly acquire new knowledge with adventuresome abandon. We will learn more deeply and completely, even master, the subjects that interest us. Why, because children know there are no barriers and everything is possible.

Written by

Clark Gaither, MD

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