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Helping Yourself Learn cartoon strip

Student Kit

This interactive kit includes animations, activities, and resources to help you explore why you may find learning hard, and discover ways to help yourself learn.

Helping Yourself Learn

Face the Problem


Do you get mad at yourself for spacing out, avoiding and not finishing your work, missing tests, getting sick just when you thought you could finally get somewhere, or being slow to get clear about a task? Experiencing violence often makes it hard to learn new things, but we may blame ourselves instead of the violence. (Sometimes violence may also give us a steely determination to succeed.) When others criticise us, it is even harder to learn. Negative messages, and the anxiety they generate, can stop us being good to ourselves. They can interfere with finding out how to make it less scary to learn new things.

When we have experienced violence, learning may be strangely difficult—sometimes, or all the time. But, if we become detectives, if we carefully watch ourselves, we can learn what helps us get present and learn. The key is to watch ourselves with curiosity, not criticism.

Our question is, “What happens to bring us to feeling overwhelmed or stuck when we are trying to learn new things?” Once we are aware of what does us in, we can look for ways to shift what happens. You could think of this task as creating a magic pouch. Fill it with ideas about what you can do for yourself and what others can do for you, with suggestions for the moment or for later on. Fill your magic pouch with ideas to calm or encourage you, to bring you back to the present or give you permission to leave, to motivate you or let you off the hook. You will find many ideas to fill your pouch here.

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PicturesMessages from a Journey
One woman faces her past and finds her strength to learn. She believes it is important to bring her whole self to learning. Read and listen.

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Activity to do Being present (PDF file)
Staying present is a powerful tool. Here is an introduction to practice.

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When we get anxious it can become impossible to stay present. Try the exercises in When you feel bad and see if they help you become more present. If you just can’t be present enough to learn right now, you might need to take a break. Remember you will be able to stay present when you are less stressed. You can try again at another time or place.

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Resilience Recovery and Thriving: Learning to Survive Adversity (PDF file)

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