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I'm not very good at languages

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

The other day, someone asked me whether I’d ever make a video about how to learn languages. I replied with ‘nah probably not, I’m not very good at languages’.

I then stopped and thought about what I’d just said.

I’m not very good at languages.

What a load of nonsense. Learning languages isn’t that hard, I just haven’t tried hard enough at them. I’m pretty sure if I did, I could learn whatever language I wanted, and be pretty good at it.

But the recording in my head played back the limiting belief that ‘I’m not very good at languages’.

I wonder how many such limiting beliefs we have about ourselves that probably aren’t true. “I’m not good at maths”, “I can’t draw”, “I can’t sing” - these are phrases we hear (or even use) all the time. And yet, the majority can probably be rephrased as “I haven’t actively worked at improving my singing yet” or “I haven’t put deliberate practice into drawing yet”.

This simple cognitive rephrasing of limiting beliefs is the first step along the path from “I can’t” to “Why can’t I”, and has the potential to change the game for our self-confidence.

Have a great week!

Ali

PS: Massive thank you to the 108 of you who replied to last week’s email, sending in your snippets of life advice. The replies were very thoughtful and interesting to read, and I’ll be rereading them for common themes across the next few weeks. It’ll be a fun little activity to do when I’m procrastinating from video-editing.


Nothing in life is hard. Hard is meaningless. – The Startup – Medium

I’ve decided the word “hard” when applied to tasks, goals, and so on is always a cop-out. It’s verbal shorthand that lets people dodge the real issues at hand and is the cause of miscommunication. I…

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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.