The Stages of Learning (They can be painful)

During introductions, I say, “I’m a life coach. I help moms who lose their temper. I used to lose my temper and I got help. Now I help others.”

When people meet me, sometimes it’s a painful moment. It’s painful because I teach them something new: I teach them that they don’t have to lose their temper (and that’s something they didn’t know before we met).

The first stage of learning is: You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s an easy place to be. You do things a certain way and it’s fine because that’s all you know.

The second stage of learning is: You know what you don’t know (and it bothers you). This is the most painful stage to be in. You realize there’s a different (and better) way to do things, and you haven’t learned how to do it… yet.

The second stage is also painful because you realize that you’ve been doing it the old way all along. Like, perhaps your a mom who’s lost her temper with her kids for the last 10 years. That’s a long time. It can be painful to look back.

And here’s what I say: You did the best you could. You don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s ok. (Try to be loving towards yourself.)

And now that you know better, you can learn to do better. And that takes time.

The third stage of learning is: You know how to do it and it takes work. During this stage, you may fall back into your old habits from time to time. But you’ll become better and better at your new skill.

The fourth stage of learning is: You know how to do it and you don’t have to think about it anymore — you do it naturally.

At stage four, you’ve learned how to be a different kind of parent. What does that look like? Let me paint a picture for you: You’re a parent who’s moved away from old ideas about rewards, punishment, consequences, and discipline. You’ve let go of your stressed-out stories and habits and learned how to handle stress in healthy ways. You talk about feelings and how to address them. And when you do get stressed out, you use resources and outside professionals to help you. You’ve grown out of unhealthy relationships and grown into healthy ones. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim of circumstance, you feel empowered you know the difference that your own behavior makes. You’ve become a model for the life you’d like your children to lead.

If you’re a yeller and you want to stop yelling (and the idea is new to you), that’s the stage where your yelling starts to bother you. It can feel painful, but it’s also a necessary part of learning. It’s actually a good thing that it bothers you. The fact that it bothers you is motivation to learn more. So, breathe. Be gentle on yourself.

Yes, you don’t know how to stop yelling, YET. This will take time and practice (and help) and you can do it one step at a time.

And yes, you may have been hurtful, yelling in the past. Be gentle on your past self too. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. You did the best you could.

Would you like to take the next step? Say this out loud, “I’m a yeller and I want to stop yelling.” Congratulations. You have begun. Or…

Are you in stage two or three? Do you want to get to stage four? Find someone who’s there and make them your friend, your mentor, your coach, or your counselor. They will give you vision and teach you the way.

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