Lessons to Unlearn

As important as learning what you need in order to grow and progress, there are some lessons in life are ones that we've developed to cope with our circumstances at the time.  Some lessons no longer suit us, our needs, or our lives, but we've held onto them because they've been familiar and helped us at one time to feel safe.

These are examples of lessons we need to unlearn.  In order to be our personal best, we need to be open to both learning and unlearning.  For me, realizing that not everything is entirely black and white--cut and dry--has been a difficult realization.  This has been a [very] long and slow lesson.  Unlearning my idea that my years of knowing and following the rules have paid off (and/ or trumps experience/ circumstances/ logic) is often a struggle in situations where my inclination would normally be to simply "check the rulebook." 

Image Source: Disney's Alice in Wonderland via bplusmovieblog

Like Alice, in Disney's Alice in Wonderland, I have expectations about how people think/ act/ behave and I often assume they will align with my "logical" view of the world.  In many of the scenes of the classic, Alice struggles to see the world outside of her own perspective, but in the end she grows and expands from the new world to which she's been exposed.

Source: Disney's Alice In Wonderland (1951)
clip found on YouTube

At first, the idea of an "unbirthday" may seem as outlandish as having to unlearn lessons, but when you think about it a little further, it's pretty reasonable.  Just because you have, in this example, only one birthday a year, does not prohibit you from celebrating your unbirthday on any or every other day of the year.  One of my major struggles recently has been to unlearn this strict (only one birthday per year with no unbirthdays) view of the world, but it has also been a tremendously rewarding experience for me.

In terms of exploring the lessons in your life worth unlearning, looking at some feelings and ideas in your own life is a great place to begin this process of unlearning.  Consider the following feelings:

- anger
- fear
- guilt
- insecurity
- jealousy
- competitiveness

In addition to the above feelings, the following categories can help you to reexamine your world view and identify additional associations worth unlearning:

- happiness
- power
- success
- love
- family
- friendship
- money
- marriage

What are your negative views pertaining to each of these categories?  For example, when examining "happiness," do you feel the only people who can be happy are those who are lucky? or rich? or thin? or very intelligent? or attractive?  You may have a number of conceptions pertaining to these to unlearn and/ or unfeel.  Recognizing that everyone deserves happiness and it is equally attainable to each of us is a powerful lesson, but often our life experience or world view has shaped our idea of how happiness comes to people--sometimes making it seem elusive and mystical, instead of a deliberate effort. 

Taking the list one concept at a time and making a list of associations can help you to determine your own unlearnable lessons.  If that seems a little overwhelming at this time, you may want to take a look at this Mind, Body, Green article, by Shannon Kaiser; it discusses specific lessons to reconsider and potentially unlearn in order to be happier.

Today, think about whether unlearning is something you might consider for your own life.  Take a little time to reflect and maybe even take a few minutes to celebrate your unbirthday with a friend.

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