Frustration is a Natural Part of Learning

Have you ever experienced a supreme frustration with learning? The feeling that you’re just not getting something; that a concept or technique is just beyond your reach and challengingly so or perhaps just not coming fast enough?

This state of frustration is a core and natural part of the learning process. I don’t know that it’s necessary, I’m sure like me you wish that you could approach every learning situation as a Budha-like sponge. However until you reach learning enlightenment it’s bound to be a regular part of being a long-term passionate practitioner of any skill or hobby. So get used to it.

Frustration is a sign of engagement. As a teacher when I see a student who is frustrated at the very least I know that they care about their learning. When someone is defeated, that’s a much harder state to work from. There is lots of energy in frustration, defeat by contrast tends to absorb a lot of energy. Better to be angry than numb.

Acknowledge it.

If you’re feeling frustration in your learning, start by acknowledging and accepting its natural place in the process. Acknowledging that something is part of the process can help you see its eventual end. Frustration like this is temporary.

Harness frustration and transform it into resolve.

Frustration is anger with an impotent quality. Decide that even if you don’t know how you’re going to solve your learning challenge, that you WILL solve it. Then go about putting yourself against that challenge as much as you can stomach. Sometimes the only way through a feeling is through it.

Get help.

This is a common mantra of mine for essentially all situations. Perhaps you need a perspective that you have not yet found. Tap your resources and keep tapping them for that piece of wisdom your missing or the approach that may help lead you to the learning you’re looking for.

In the end, stick with it. Remember it’s better to struggle with anger than suffer with defeat.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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