I notice that when I really get into the Hanzi studying, close to about a month in I start to worry about if I will Finish or not. It is an extremely compulsive worrying and it seeps into my image of learning the language as a whole. What I mean is, the more I start to worry, the more I associate the language with stress. I obviously love the language a lot for it to cause me this much worry, but the worry has already once been my undoing. It got to the point where I couldn’t sleep properly and I eventually felt it was best for my health and any future chance of learning the language for me to quit so I did.
Now I’m back at it, and the worrying is rearing it’s unattractive head once more. this time I have many more perspectives to view the worrying from.
For one, I am viewing this as a challenge, and one I will overcome and learn from and be able to apply to many other areas in my life so it’s such a win right now.
I can see areas that are causes and affects of stress.Three are passive, (physical, mental, and emotional), and one is active, the actually acting on the stress either my ruminating on it or surfing the web for help or trying to figure out how to deal with it. different forms of stress I think require different treatment but it seems with this compulsive form of worry, the actual acting based on the stress is what needs to be treated.
Lets make no mistake about it, what I have here is a compulsion. It is a chronic worry that starts with the fear that I wont reach my goal, the fear that I will lose interest before I can reach it. This worry then leads to me associating the language with stress which builds until it becomes at least temporarily self-fulfilling.
The compulsive action that I need to treat is the super vigilance of the possibility of losing interest. Of course I need to keep my motivation in check, but not constantly and not as actively as I start doing as part of the compulsion. There is a difference. I am already putting off any other interests so that I don`t get distracted. I already started of small and built up slowly. I already made learning the Hanzi fun. I already try to focus on one day and one moment at a time instead of setting my sights on a goal so far away that it makes me sick with need which would be stressful on it`s own. Things like this keep motivation in check. These and then just doing the work and making it a habit.
What have been doing compulsively is checking to see thathatat I am still enjoying the work, compulsively checking that I am not too stressed or on the verge of burning out and compulsively checking that I still want to learn Chinese. Really downer type stuff. This is due in part to the fact that I am an INTP and so I have had many fleeting interested thathatat came and left me feeling like I`d failed once I lost interest. Another part is that I naturally have a bit more anxiety than the normal person which leaves me a bit more open to compulsive worrying and precautions.
However, I have wanted to learn Chinese since I was first introduced to it at around 8 years old so I think that is saying something about my level of interest. It`s probably not going anywhere. It`s more valuable than a fleeting INTP interest in something like poker or magic tricks that lasts for like a week. I think what was happening was I was filtering through what was really valuable to me and what was not. Poker is not. So that`s why I never kept up with it. Chinese is. That’s why it`s been a life long journey.
How do I defeat the stress, the worrying. The main thing I am going to try is to not entertain the compulsion which only strengthens the anxiety. I will simply let go of the idea and keep learning as if nothing is standing in my way. That way if the stress is truly just because of the compulsion then the less I entertain it, the weaker the thoughts and anxieties will get until they can no longer exist.
When I decide not to engage in the compulsion, I am left with choosing to have fun in everyvery moment and letting go of what will happen when I complete the Hanzi. I know I can do it, I’ve made it easy and fun, and I can continue to make it even easier and more fun if I need to. To be so stressed out about what will happen once I finish (not be interested any more or something) definitely says something about where I am in the moment and day to day. I’m not enjoying myself simply because of a worry of the future. That is what I need to fix. That is what a lot of people need to fix in life in general. People need to decide on what they want to do, decide what makes sense, and then enjoy every moment of there lives with confidence that they will reach there goals and that they can overcome any obstacles if they arise
Other areas of stress reduction work too like full-body relaxation(for physical and emotional) and positive psychology(for mental) which I am doing as well.
This is my first assault against burnout and I think the logic is sound and that it should work. Otherwise I will try something else. Also I hope others can benefit from this as well.
Another possibility is that the speed I am going, working up to 5 hours a day, is based on the need to finish fast because of the fear that if I don’t I will lose interest. I have a strict bed time and schedule and I do this every day without fail unless I have work then I miss one or two of the five sessions per day. The thought of doing 5 hours a day is stressful to imagine however I have made studying quite fun and find I can easily get into a flow so time passed very fast. 5 hours studying a day doesn’t even compare to school, plus I have done this same strategy for a fitness certification with success so I know it’s not too hard.