Accepting myself

We often proclaim that our students need to find their own way. What do we mean and what is the main obstacle?

People are different. This is what makes us more interesting and valuable. Jewish wisdom proclaims “He who saves one soul it’s as if he saved the entire world”. Yet we are continuously conditioned to be like others, consume like others, act like others. It is much easier to provide for people who have standardized needs. When we look for a job candidate the requirements are also standardized. Standard people generate automatic and stereotypical responses, which can be very polite and friendly but hardly unique. With time we do not quite know how to treat something or someone that is different, nor do we ant to be different and make others uncomfortable near us.

Once we accept ourselves as yet another person, and what we read as yet another article, we expect simple numeric and standardized answers. When someone asks me to say for how many seconds to do some reading action, or how many markers to generate, or how long to practice some skill, I am genuinely puzzled. We read materials who are radically different. It is easy to assume that when we read, we are generally looking for the same things, but this is genuinely wrong. Some people get all details and do not remember the article’s name, some can tell who wrote the article and why it was written but forget everything in it, some remember the first and the last paragraph of an article and everything else is blurred.

If you do not accept yourself as unique individuals with unique skills, you will probably fail to qualify as superlearners. All memory champions have slightly different (and sometimes secretive) training routines and memorization methods. When asked what to prefer: major or dominic system, I cannot give a good answer: it would be better if you can develop your own system that fits your specific needs. Choose your own themes for mindmaps and mental palaces. Only you know what make your inner world unique, and only you can use it to your advantage.

Probably it is best to balance self-acceptance with humility. Why do you want to be a superlearner? There are plenty of stories like this article about how hard and sometimes useless it is to be a genius. Do you expect that having a PhD you will get a better job and higher salary? This is not guaranteed.
Just like loving yourself may be very good at moderate quantities and very bad at huge quantities, you probably do not want to be too different. An IQ of 145 may be a blessing, but and IQ of 165 may cause emotional detachment from people around you. Be more attentive to people around you, and they will always teach you one thing or another.

Accepting myself was never easy for me personally. I was very different from the kids around me when I went to school, different subjects interested me. The books that I read when I was a child were quite complex, and not many adults understood what I was talking about – kids did not even listen to me. With time my greatest wish was to become like everybody else. Consumerism and patriotism are really easy traits to copy. With time I started to act and think like most people around me. There was some dissatisfaction with being average, yet it was not enough to move me. A real change happened when I married Anna and started to superlearn. Having a superskill, even as trivial as higher research capabilities, makes you different. Not super-rich, super-wise, super-famous, simply different – sort of “know everything” person. Then I had to accept myself being different – this time not as an inborn quality but as a life choice. Fortunately, by that time I found highly talented people who became my friends. Each of my friends is better than me in something I am quite good at, and this teaches me humility. I am finally able to accept myself in my new role. I am even able to teach others, something which is very hard for me.

My personal style of superlearning combines good research skills with healthy amount of humility. I am still occasionally failing at both, but with time I am getting better. What is your personal style?

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4 Replies to “Accepting myself”

  1. I love reading your articles lev. Superlearning adheres to the humanistic approach, continual learning, self fulfilment are all qualities that are attainable by anyone. Progression for me makes me feel happy, I’m also driven heavily by the fear of failure which results in me researching continuously. “At first we make our habits, then our habits make us” I believe your uniqueness Lev has provided you with skills to help others, something I am grateful for.

    Having high expectations for your self is not a bad thing, when we raise our standards we open the possibly to change. Any problem that we aquire is actually a solution we have created, a person who has social anxiety has created that pain so that they remove themselves from the situation to feel safe again. The pain you experience when you feel your not achieving, is to cause you to drift back into that comfort of not doing it, challenge it and with time you will progress.

    1. Thank you. Typically I recommend complementing fear of missing out with a hunger for something: new knowledge, new experiences, new achievements etc.

    1. Do not panic, set up reasonable milestones and see how you achieve them. Occasionally it makes sense to read faster even if it means more iterations of reading. Always spend all the time you need to analyze what you read and make notes after reading.

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