Modifying personality

In the course of procrastination had another soliloquy when chatting with one good person. This time about therapeutic action of learning a new thing, especially a language. Funny thing, "therapeutic" is the word I had in mind, and it's also the word he then used to characterize what I had described. It's not a new idea of course and again I'm feeling sort of ashamed writing down things that have been said many times before. But well, how do you gain momentum before coming up with something real? How otherwise? Got to prepare a baseline at least.

So the initial position is around the idea of language-learning changing the way the learner thinks. That's an old one, yay. Not even going to go into details. It's just that the statement is too general and can be expounded in many different ways. What's of interest to me is that it seems one can in a managed manner adjust their own personality by learning some new thing. I'll try to sum up, refine, and formalize what I've said today.

Things I've observed about myself:

  1. When I only began really learning English -- that is when I started having conversations with people and not just reading documentation -- I was still that person who walks into a room silently, never greets anyone, rarely talks, and never bids farewell. Absolutely incapable of conversation. Yet in English-speaking environment I often behaved differently and allowed myself things I wouldn't usually allow.
  2. For example, by the first year of uni my manner of speech became kind of lazy -- I started quietly mumbling, as if I were loath to speak. That's how I still often talk. Speaking English, I had since the beginning a different voice and tempo. This is the way it stays even now.
  3. In Russian, I would never use diminutive forms of words and names -- perhaps it just felt that that's not they way people would expect me to be. No such thing with English.
  4. Conversations in English are still more relaxed, more personal for me. I can talk in English about things I wouldn't ever talk before.
  5. I wasn't used to going to theater because "what's the use?", until I thought "Shakespearian grammar must be so much richer than modern talk" and watched NTLive's Hamlet in cinema. Now I'm sometimes even visting plays in Russian which I don't have such a pragmatic cause for.
  6. Except for very early childhood, I've never really tried singing. Not even singing, just changing my voice, making any specific sounds with it. Until I tried so in English.

Raw conclusions:

  1. The effort that it takes to learn a truly new thing, a thing that your mind perhaps even resists to comprehend, does require transition into a certain state of mind, a sort of "promiscious mode" which allows new beliefs to be formed. It might be that this state allows one to also modify some personality traits.
  2. Learning a new thing may serve a practical cause, a purely pragmatic reason to try out something affecting personality that one possibly had no legit reason to try. Cf. #theater and #music
  3. Learning something new and unknown implies a right to mistake. "It's not my expertise, so I may ask however dumb a question"


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