March 31, 2024
Tania Burgess

Navigating Life's Challenges: Learning Skills for Emotional Resilience and Connection 

Embarking on the journey of learning a new skill is like navigating new territory. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to embrace the process of growth and discovery. The same is true for developing new life skills for coping with difficult emotions, improving communication, and enhancing relationships; with the landscape being our personal growth and fulfilment. In the same way we learn a practical skill like driving, sailing or flying, learning to self regulate, relate and connect is no different. If the skills weren’t modelled to us in childhood, we will need to learn them to become a fully functioning adult. In this blog, we'll explore the stages of learning required to take any skill from the realm of the mind to the realm of muscle memory, highlighting the importance of action and integration along the way. 

1. You Don't Know What You Don't Know:

This stage is also known as unconscious incompetence. At this stage, you may not even be aware of the existence of a particular skill or the depth of knowledge required to master it. However life without these essential life skills can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming with difficult feelings like anxiety, frustration and depression taking over. It may seem awkward and unattainable, however acknowledging your own limitations will support the shift to explore and expand your skills.

2. You Know What You Don't Know:

This stage is also known as conscious incompetence. As you dive into the learning process, you start to uncover gaps in your knowledge and understanding. This is an exciting stage full of possibilities as you recognise the specific areas where you lack proficiency. This stage is marked by a sense of curiosity and a desire to find resources, mentors, and experiences that can help you bridge the skill gap between what you recognise is not working and what you need to know to making things work. It’s at this stage that your skills will develop with practice and failure. Only through the willingness to fail, will you start to succeed.

3. Know What You Know:

This stage is also known as conscious competence.  With continued learning and practice, you begin to acquire a foundation of knowledge and skills for how to pause, regulate yourself and be with difficult conversations to improve your relationships. You gain confidence in your abilities each time your practice and recognise your strengths and areas of developing expertise. You may find yourself frustrated when you move back in stage 2, after experimenting with new skills and the result isn’t as successful as you had hoped, but that’s Ok because this motivates learning and supports you moving back into this stage of now knowing. This phase is characterised by a sense of accomplishment and mastery, as you gain traction and momentum in your learning journey.

4. Know Without Knowing:

This stage is also known as unconscious competence. As you confidently continue practising your new skills, something remarkable happens. Your new skills of become effortless and instinctual. You no longer need to consciously think about every choice or decision; instead, you operate from a place of embodied knowing. This stage is characterised by a sense of flow and mastery, as your skills become second nature and intuitively integrated into your way of being.

Taking Action: Bridging the Gap Between Mind and Muscle:

While each stage of learning is valuable in its own right, true mastery is achieved through embodiment, which occurs in the final stages. It's not enough to simply accumulate knowledge; you need to actively apply what you know through consistent practice and experimentation. By taking intentional steps towards integrating a new skill into your daily life, you bridge the gap between the concept and the reality, transforming abstract ideas into tangible skills and abilities.

The journey of taking a skill from mind to muscle is a multifaceted and dynamic process. It requires you to move through the stages of learning with humility, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment. By taking action, embracing fallibility, letting of of self judgement or criticism, you transform your knowledge into wisdom and unlock the full potential of your capabilities.