Speed Reading Tips: Mastering the Mindset for Speed Reading Success

Nancy B. Alston

Speed reading success requires you to understand and embrace certain qualities of your mind if you are to succeed. Due to the radically different approach and necessary new behaviors, an unprepared learner can easily give up. Rather than to succumb to this premature emotional reaction, speed reading success demands that we appreciate the natural reaction of our mind to new and different ways of behaving, and do something about it.

Our human mind has a strong tendency to resist most change, especially if it requires any additional conscious effort. Conscious effort requires extra energy that our unconscious mind wants to avoid.

How this plays out for someone newly learning to speed read goes something like this: We begin by being excited about the possibility of achieving our outcome of easily reading at multiple times our usual speed. We begin learning a few techniques. The techniques are radically different than the many years of reading experience we have had. We get frustrated. We may even try the exercises again, but have difficulty still. Then our mind concludes, “I can’t do this.” Alternatively, we might think, “This doesn’t work.”

There might be other internal negative self-talk experiences. The point is that we are yielding to that part of our mind that is change resistant. So we stop our practice.

Ultimately, nothing changes.

Don’t let this happen to you. Know that disciplining your mind’s reaction to the change process can turn around the outcome for you.

Marvin Minsky, in his book “Society of Mind,” talks about the “anti-joy of learning.” He states that, “in the early stages of acquiring any really new skill, a person must adopt at least a partly anti-pleasure attitude.” For example, when initially frustrated and less than successful you might say to yourself, “Good this is a chance to experience awkwardness and new kinds of mistakes!”

Think about that last sentence. Do you like experiencing awkwardness and mistakes? Most people try to avoid that. However, champion learners embrace the mistakes and awkwardness because they know it is the path to eventual mastery. Some parts of the mind find it horrible while other parts enjoy forcing those first parts to work for them. Anyone who has achieved significant growth knows and appreciates this anti-joy. Any worthwhile skill usually requires this mental mindset.

What about you? Can you embrace the anti-joy of the learning process in order to master speed reading? Without it you will not succeed and will most likely be buried with the information you need to digest for your future success.

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