So. One of the most valuable tools that I have learned in my adult years is unlearning. In order to become the woman that I desire to be and to work toward reaching my full potential in life, I have had to unlearn. What do I mean by that? Simple. I have taught myself to lean into unlearning values, ways of thinking, and expectations that no longer serve me.
As we are raised as children, our parents do the best that they can to give us what we need to be viable, productive adults one day. As we continue to grow into young adults, society places expectations and frames of thought on us in order to fit us into the box of what a productive, successful citizen looks like. As we become full blown adults, we do our best to figure out who we are or want to be and grow into that person.
But, at some point, the rose colored glasses come off, our eyes open more fully to the truths of the world, and we begin to find conflict between what is our perceived truth and what is reality. When we get to that fork in the road, we may be left trying to figure out what comes next. Do we stay the same and function with internal conflict? Do we change and work through the discomfort? At some point, it is up to us to get uncomfortable with what we have known, begin to unlearn valueless information and relearn what serves our current season of life.
This doesn't mean blindly choosing to be ignorant to things that we simply don't agree with or deciding to not take accountability. Because we all know how cliche' the phrase "that no longer serves me" has become. It means assessing our own value systems and adjusting course when we find misalignment. Why does this matter in the grand scheme of life satisfaction, mental/emotional health, and taking care of self? Well, because it can impact us in some very major ways.
Living an Inauthentic Life
When we live life based on values that no longer align with who we are or who we hope to become, it can leave us living a flat out lie. We may find ourselves pretending to be someone who we are not, all in the name of keeping things the way they have always been. Why? Because change is uncomfortable. But, in the bigger picture, is it more uncomfortable to change or to live inauthentically?? Unlearning the values placed on us by others and deciding what truly matters to you is the key to becoming your true, authentic self!
Having Unrealistic Expectations of Self and the World
As we learn what life is and how to navigate it from our parents and society, we form certain expectations. Expectations of ourselves. Expectations of the world around us. But, often times, because of the pressure to be all the things that others want us to be or because of the entitlement of what we think the world owes us, we develop unrealistic expectations. We set the bar so high that we may never reach it. Or, in an attempt to stay one step ahead of others, we keep moving the finish line. Unlearning others' expectations and setting our own has the power to change the whole game.
Persistent Feelings of Failure
We so often measure our own success against the ruler given to us by others. Whether it is attempting to live out the hopes and dreams that your parents vicariously place on you or trying to check all the boxes that a capitalist society says you need in order to be a success, most of us never quite measure up. And how can we? It is impossible to measure your success with someone else's ruler. It's theirs! Not yours! And when we don't meet the mark, it can lead to those nagging feelings of failure. It's time to unlearn everyone else's measure of success and figure out what success even means for yourself!
Internal Conflict of Values
Values are the things in life that we hold in a place of high importance. They guide the decisions we make and the type of life we lead. Our core values come from...you guessed it....our socialization during childhood. From our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and any other adult with a place of influence in our little worlds. But, as we bloom into autonomous, free thinking people, we will often be faced with the reality that what those adults held as important doesn't line up with what our adult selves deem important. That realization leads to internal conflict and, many times, an existential crisis. Because who am I and what really matters, if not what the grown ups told me?! Unlearning values that are no longer in alignment with who you are is the key to resolving this conflict.
In the coming weeks, I will share several topics in my personal growth journey as a woman, mother and social worker that I have had to unlearn and relearn in order to become who I have the power to truly be. I hope that in exploring my unlearning, you will find space to release yourself, with tons of grace, space, and compassion for your own journey. Unlearning allows you to become aware that while you can be grateful for what others have offered you, you do not have to continue to carry it, if it is not allowing you to progress. Your healing will require unlearning. It will require release and relearning. It will require being comfortable with the discomfort of knowing that your truth is not the absolute truth and that there is more to consider. Let's unlearn.
Light and Love.....