Community//

Unlearn Before You Learn

5 Ways to Increase Your Self-Awareness about Community and the "Other"

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

2021 continues to produce collective grief, change, and ambiguity. In an effort to draw our attention to what we can control and to provide hope for courageous leaders to step into roles for responding well, the following are five ways to practice intentional self-reflection to bring about more love and more understanding to ourselves first and also to our neighbors. 

Look

Look at your own identity in new and relevant ways. In what areas can you exercise your own power and privilege to be an advocate and change-agent for what you would like to see changed in your community? Perhaps it’s your age, ability, education, or employment that provides you with opportunities to create change. But it first begins with looking closely at your own agency and knowing how to use it to affect change. Unlearn your typical ways of “seeing” people and assuming their ability/inability just off of that sole identity marker. Learn to approach self and others with a sense of curiosity for their entire identity.

Listen

Listen to more stories of your community members. This requires seeking out diversified voices, news outlets, social media channels and personalities, and community leaders. What are the stories not making headlines? What are the stories not even making the news? Committing to listening to stories and the feelings embedded in them can cultivate increased empathy skills which will result in greater tolerance, understanding, and solidarity.

Learn

Learn about your biases. Biases are automatic judgments our brain makes about people, situations, and experiences. To learn about them is to recognize the judgements you associate with a person or a situation. This can be how stereotypes are formed and readily accepted if they align with your judgements. Because it’s humanly impossible to eliminate biases from our brains, it’s important to slow down and think through the why of our judgments and assumptions.

Lean in

Lean into where you can enact change. Where are the intersections of where you have felt ‘othered’, ‘marginalized,’ and misunderstood? This can be a starting point for you to understand how to engage in dialogue and perspective-taking when learning about power and privilege. Leaning into discomfort of difficult conversations with self and with others takes courage.

Let go

Let go of complacency. There can be complacency in thoughts, actions, assumptions, and accepting routine. To challenge yourself to learn about more perspectives is to let go of one-sided stories, stereotypes, and siloed opinions. It will unearth biases and replace them with holding multiple truths.

Unlearning to learn is an act of courage and of love. Loving self and others requires looking, listening, learning, leaning into, and letting go of assumptions and judgements.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Jorg Greuel/ Getty Images
    Wisdom//

    Learn These Super Skills Immediately to “Future-Proof” Your Career

    by Thomas Oppong
    Image via Author
    Wisdom//

    A Guide to Honing Your Identity Leadership Skills

    by Stedman Graham
    Community//

    Lian Nguyen Pham of ‘Wellness 4 Humanity’: “Courage to live their truth”

    by Ben Ari

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.