When children are young, their minds are open and curious without fear. They have no organic prejudices or fears; they are open to learning anything and every experience, for them, is a potential lesson.
But when – in the process of growing – they begin to learn things that may not serve them in their lives, these learned behaviors can be self-sabotaging as they grow into adults.
Furthermore, the things learned vary from being personal experiences to things taught to them by indoctrination. As adults, we continue to learn and many times are afraid to let go of the things we believe to be true, in favor of finding more valuable ways of seeing and doing things in our lives.
When we are trapped in our own beliefs to the point where we refuse to change our thinking despite evidence that our beliefs are self-destructive, this is called cognitive dissonance. Have you ever met someone whose beliefs were clearly outdated but who, despite your best efforts to educate them, they irrefutably refuse to let go? The reason behind this is that we don’t like to feel uncomfortable so we do whatever we need to do, to avoid it.
This is where unlearning becomes a powerful tool to establish and maintain balance. Letting go of the things you believe you know to create space for newer, more exciting things, is an effective way to change your reality.
Homeschooling became a popular educational trend as parents began to feel discouraged by many of today’s educational institutions. A subcategory of homeschooling are “unschoolers” – that is, parents who allowed their children to grow, learn, and develop without a strict curriculum. To do this, the students would leave their schools and begin letting go of the things they learned while in school so they could explore life on their own and create their own paths with the guidance and accommodation of their parents.
One study found that the benefits of unschooling included “improved learning, better attitudes about learning, and improved psychological and social wellbeing for the children; and increased closeness, harmony, and freedom for the whole family.”
How powerful to know that removing obstacles created by learned behaviors allows for more room for growth via natural curiosity.
Learning to Unlearn
It can be frightening – even debilitating – to let go of learned behaviors and attitudes. This is a natural response to change. Here are some ways you can begin to unlearn the things that may be holding you back.
If you are feeling off-center or out of balance, think back to the last decision you made. Maybe you took something too seriously or responded to something inappropriately. This is an excellent opportunity for you to look within yourself and ask yourself why you responded this way.
As an example, you may be deathly afraid to walk past your neighbor’s yard because there’s a large dog who always barks from behind the fence as you pass. But, is this fear real? Obviously if you’re afraid of dogs, the fear is real but is the threat real?
Pick One Change
Once you identify a belief or attitude that is not serving you, be mindful of the next time you are presented with the opportunity to change it. Everything in our lives is the result of things we have done in the past and each action is the result of our thoughts. By changing just one way we believe or act, we can literally change our lives.
As mentioned, young children are always learning new things. Letting go of limiting beliefs allows us to create more room for new things in our worlds. Living in the moment is one way that embracing ignorance serves us; it keeps our minds open and allows us to breathe in the power of now.
If you’re ready to embark on the exciting journey of unlearning, I invite you to contact metoday and let’s get started.