I always say “Everyone has something to teach us”. I am also quick to follow that with the disclaimer that it may not be something that we WANT to know, but it is something that we DON’T know.
The Webster’s dictionary defines learning as: the activity or process of gaining knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something.
For me the studying or being taught part of learning is easy. I also tend to associate this type of learning at the mental level only. Filling my head with something new through listening, observing or reading. An expansion of mind into knowledge that I don’t currently have in a navigable format through the words or the action of others. In these forms of learning I don’t find myself getting uncomfortable. Mentally I can pick things up quickly and hold the theory, facts or practicality of what is taught in my mind.
On the flip side, the gaining of knowledge through practicing or experiencing is where the challenging part of learning comes in for me. This is the part of learning that I associate with action by taking what is in my mind and being able to carry it out through to my behaviors.
An easy illustration of this is in my riding. In my mind I know where my leg should be when I ride, how I should be holding my hands on the reins and where my shoulders should be aligned. However, making all those pieces fit together in motion on the horse and taking those mental notes and putting them into action physically is where it all gets bumbled up.
This learning difficulty doesn’t necessarily have to be at the physical level. It could be a practice, a change in mental thoughts or habits, even self talk and a way of thinking about things or perspectives.
I find the science behind why this is difficult really quite fascinating. I believe it has much to do with what neural pathways are open or have been myelinated. When these pathways are not protected and open the signals cannot get through as easy, making what we are learning harder to carry out. It is where that feeling of discomfort comes from. Practice is the only way to move through it, gradually and steadily myelinating the pathway until what we are learning becomes effortless.