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Your Skills Toolbox. If you can do this, you can do that!

Have you ever told yourself, “I’m hopeless at that” or “I could never do that”? “I tried and failed and I messed up” or “It’s too difficult, so best not to bother”? That’s okay if it was something you didn’t really want to do anyway, but, if it is something you’d like to be able to do, set your inner voice aside, tell it to shut up, it doesn’t know everything, and try this process I created. Obviously, we have to be realistic, there are some things that pain, age, disability or expense prevent us from doing, but bar that, you can learn many new things. I hope, that, by reading this, you’ll appreciate yourself more, even if you don’t do the exercise. First, let’s establish that everything needs practice. You know this already, right? Remember when you were learning to drive, bake a cake, keep a ball in the air with your feet or something else you mastered? Some things can be learned more quickly and more easily than others, but whatever it is, you have to repeat certain actions before your body and mind accept them, and, with enough commitment, hey presto! –you can do it! Learning to do a new thing is simply a matter of having the right ingredients and using them in the right order. This applies to everything, from growing seeds to flying a plane. So, take a sheet of paper, divide it lengthways down the middle, and on the left side, make a heading - ‘Things I Can Do’. Now consider all the things you can do. And write them under the heading. Anything, from making the best cup of tea to brain surgery. Don’t rush, and I can guarantee you’ll have a long list! Then, title the right side ‘My Skills Toolbox’ and think about the skills, both mental and physical you use to accomplish each of these things. Go down your list and write the skills you used on the right side, across from each item. Take a bit of time, because there are more than you think, things you take for granted and might not realise are skills. You’ll notice certain skills repeating themselves too. This is part of the magic in learning something new. When you’ve done that, you’ll see how amazing you are! Look at how many tools you have in your Toolbox! Look at all those things you can do with a whole bunch of tools! Now we get to the really good bit. I call this ‘Transference of Skills’. For instance, say you can do martial arts, and want to learn to draw, or vice versa. What are the skills these two activities have in common? At first glance, they seem very different, but I can see a few similarities. Both need focus and concentration, they demand an almost meditative and grounded state. Both use observation, to see what the opponent is doing or to properly study the art subject. Both use strokes, one through the air, one on the paper, and both need accuracy of placement, so that the strokes go in the correct place. I hope you can see what I mean, and how the skills used in one can be used in the other and can get you off to a good start. I could throw juggling in (see what I did there? Hehe…) and can see how it also relates to both drawing and martial arts.

Next, take another piece of paper and title it ‘What I Want to Learn’. Do not allow yourself to think, “I can’t do that”. Think of this activity and imagine someone doing it. Visualise it, and observe what skills are being used. Keep watching, noting the mental and physical abilities at work. Every time you spot one, write it down. When you’ve seen as much as you can for the moment, hold that list next to the one you made on all the skills you already have. Lightbulb moment? Can you see how you already have some or even many of the skills required to learn the new thing? There will be new skills to learn of course, but you can make a good solid start with those you already have and build on them. Monet is an example. He transferred his artistic skills into designing his garden at Giverny. Being aware of your skills in one area makes them accessible to you to apply elsewhere, and we already transfer skills more than we realise. Sure, you still need to practice, but I hope that by having fun with this process, you will see yourself differently and go forward with more confidence, realising that you already have the abilities to achieve much more than you knew. So - take out those tools and get going! I’d be most interested to know if this worked for you, or at least helped you to embrace more in your life and to have a new appreciation of yourself. Thank you for reading!

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