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February 3rd, 2020
There’s the adage: Monkey see, Monkey do.
But how do we go from seeing something to doing it? Take dancers for instance. Their learning, practice and training happens in front of a mirror. They get instant feedback about what their body orientation looks like. But once they’re on stage, performing in front of an audience, where is the mirror?
There is no mirror, of course. So how does the dancer know they are doing the dance in a way that looks correct?
The process of learning and tweaking in front of a mirror is a process of translation. What the dancer changes by way of self-reflection manifests within a person as a different feel. With any sort of body orientation, it simply feels different, and with enough practice we can bookmark these orientations in order to snap to that orientation.
Dancers perhaps have it easy in this respect. The translation from what something looks like to what something feels like has a tight feedback loop and only has . . . two steps: moving the body and referencing the mirror visually.
Before we abandon the mirror completely and wonder about things that we quite literally can’t see ourselves do, what about something like getting in shape?
The walls of gyms are plastered with mirror. Again for good reason, it’s important to have proper form while working out and referencing one’s own body orientation is vital. But more important is the different way it feels to workout on the first day of a committed exercise regimen versus the way it feels on the 1,000th day of a committed workout regimen.
We start such exercise commitments with a hope of looking better. But it’s feeling better that keeps us at it, and this, unfortunately takes time.
It’s for this sort of reason that we should be wary about how seriously we take our own feelings. It’s possible to realize from an intellectual standpoint that “hey, if I keep doing this, my emotions surrounding it are going to change as a result of doing it.”
Often we look at it the other way around, we wait around for the emotion to do it. But often we have to do it in order to arouse the emotion.
This goes for any endeavor, whether it be learning to dance or starting a business. The beginning is confusing and uncomfortable, and it’s easy on the basis of these emotions to convince ourselves that we aren’t good at it or that it’s not worth the effort. What we forget about is how these emotions change as we make progress.
When starting something new and discouraged by the sorts of emotions that crop up, it’s best to ask:
Will it always feel like this?
The answer is obvious of course, despite the fact that we so easily fail to remember it.