Growing up, there are some things we learned from our families and societies that seemed true and right at that time. However, interacting with others, becoming enlightened and even becoming self-aware has shown us that not all things that we learned were gospel truth. Our parents, teachers, society and even friends were not always right. This means that some things we learned on how to behave, think or feel may have been totally misinformed and we should unlearn them.
I followed a thread on an online forum whereby someone mentioned the need to unlearn some things that have been conditioned to think, feel or behave. Here are some things I think you should unlearn.
1. Not accepting compliments
I don’t know if it is about humility or modesty, but many of us don’t know how to take compliments because of how we grew up. We may have been taught that taking a complement is immodest or something along that grain. Some of our modest friends would be complemented and rather than say thank you, the reflex is to come up with an excuse or something self-deprecating to say. I have learned that it is okay to take a compliment, smile and just say thank you. Not appreciating compliments may also have come from a point of mistrust whereby one perceives a complement as flattery and therefore don’t take it so well. This is especially if you have been in a position whereby you were flattered in the past and the ‘compliments’ given were not genuine which made you embarassed. So from today onwards, learn to accept and appreciate compliments and allow yourself to feel good about it.
2. That you are entitled
If you had parents who were always cheering you on, telling you how great you are and how much you will achieve great things, two things could have come out of this. One is that you have developed killer confidence, and that’s awesome. The other one is that you may have ended up feeling entitled and that the world owes you. You may have grown up thinking that you are better than others, feeling that the world rewards good people and good things always happen to good people.
Such a mindset leads to having unrealistic expectations out of life, all of which may lead to depression especially if the effort you put into your endeavors do not lead to the career of your dreams, and all the good things you have done do not result to wonderful things happening in your life. This lesson is especially for those who were smart, talented and gifted in their younger school years. Everyone made them feel like the special kid until they go to college, or the workplace and they started feeling like a fraudulent mess up. Try to unlearn entitlement if you feel entitled. Mark Manson addresses this in his book under the chapter ‘you are not special’.
3. Putting others before yourself
If you grew with siblings, you were probably taught that being a good sibling or friend was to think about other people before thinking about yourself. As a result, you have become this people pleaser that is so unhappy because people never seem to appreciate when you think of them first. You tend to grow up thinking that wanting something is selfish and that other people are more deserving to get what you want than you do. First, this discourages you from engaging in any form of competitiveness which is important for your career since sometimes you have to compete for the positions that you want. Sometimes, even when you take a chance and compete for something, you don’t put your mind and soul to it because ‘it’s not that bad to lose either’.
This kind of thinking can make you to always let opportunities pass by and fail in persistence while maybe it is persistence that can make you get what you want. Secondly, it affects the kind of relationships you form because when you ask something from your partner, whether it is their time or attention, you tend to feel that you are bothering them and find yourself damaging relationships. Further, it may be difficult for you to ask someone to do something for you since you don’t often feel as deserving. Do you find yourself apologizing even when you have done nothing wrong? You don’t have to be sorry all the time, and this comes from inbuilt guilt that you are inconveniencing others.
“Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm”
As much as you should support and love those who you are with, they are responsible for their own life and so are you for yours. They also shouldn’t treat you like crap because you should be considerate of their needs and feelings. For a long time, I used to lend money so much to people, not that I had that much, but I always thought they needed it more than I did. This is until I realized how much I was easy with it and that others had started to take advantage. Today, before I lend you money, first I have to be very sure you will return it, and that you must be in real need. Learn to think of yourself a bit more, people can be selfish and even abuse the kind of attention you give to them. This sounds like narcissism, but you are a lot more important and you may have to unlearn to put others before yourself. If you fall under this category, take time to unlearn this and try putting yourself first sometimes. It will feel so good, I promise.
4. Holding in your emotions because it is the right thing to do
In many families, kids, and even grown-ups are not allowed to openly show their emotions. Instead, they are taught to hold them in with the conviction that it is the right thing to do. As a result, such people grow up being emotionally challenged persons who can hardly express ourselves emotionally because they never had the opportunity to. As you face life, especially in developing relationships with others, you will learn that when you keep away your emotions or hold them in, you are inconveniencing those you are in a relationship with since it spills to all the other aspects of your life.
5. Unlearn to keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself
If this sounds like something you were taught, it is also possible that you were taught not to say what you think, mean or want since saying so was perceived as being impolite. When you are such a person, you become a pushover since no one will ever look up to you for opinions since you never give any. This is especially hurting in careers and relationships as it can hold you back when your boss or partner asks for your opinion on something because they do need an opinion but you make comments such as ‘whatever you decide’.
While it may work for people who want to be in control all the time, it is not very effective in forming a balanced relationship and it is going to affect the quality of relationships that you form. You may also have been taught never to disagree or question what you are told and simply say ‘Yes Ma’am’ to every order. As a result, you have grown up believing that the best way to pass through life is to be unnoticeable as possible. When adulthood strikes, you learn that you hardly ever speak for yourself and even have trouble making choices. If this describes you, unlearn this and learn to express your thoughts and opinions. Some people will appreciate what you have to say.
6. Unlearn that older is wiser
If you heard a lot of ‘because I said so’, you tend to grow up thinking that those in authority are always right and you have no business questioning authority at any time. This may have turned you into a meek person and if you want to be different, it is something to unlearn. Older is not necessarily wiser. Some people are really not that smart, and if they are, the generation gap means that they don’t have all the right answers, and therefore we have to unlearn the feeling that just because someone is older, the advice they give is viable. Of course, some mean well with their advice, and it is helpful, what I mean is that not all things said by older people is the gospel truth.
7. Unlearn that everything has to be perfect
I haven’t experienced this personally, but I know of people who grew up in environments where everything needs to be perfect all the time. From how clean their house is, to what they are wearing, to how well they perform and behave in school. If a parent gave you a lecture or a beating for drawing on the wall, or dripping some gravy on your clothes or on the sofa, for not straightening up the bed like you are in the military, this influences the kind of life that you have after. First, you find it hard to accommodate people who are not the same, and yet these people could be good for all in all the other aspects. You may also learn that this behavior makes you want to be in control at all times in a way that it is extremely neurotic. I’m not saying you should be a slob, but expecting perfection is being unfair to yourself.
8. Because you paid for it, you have to finish it
We all have heard the lecture about food wastage from our parents and even today, we find ourselves forcing down food, no matter how horrible it is, or no matter how full we are because we paid for it. I am not all for food wastage at all, but neither am I going to put myself through some horrible food experience, and I love good food, simply because I paid for it. If it is bad, it is, leave it.
9. That family is family, and you have no choice but to stick with them
Not true. You don’t have to stick around horrible people simply because they are family. For your peace of mind, sometimes you have to walk away from people, even when they are family. There is also the notion that other people can’t love you forever but family will. Not necessarily, you may meet some people in life who will do more for you, love you and be there for you, more than family ever will. You also don’t have to love someone because they are family. I am lucky to have a supportive family that is not hard to love, but I have friends who know they are better off without some of their family members. If you learned this, and you have some toxic family members around you, consider distancing yourself from them. It may be just what you need.
10. Here is one thing I should unlearn
Just because you are trustworthy, and you have good intentions towards others, they don’t always have good intentions for you, and not everyone that can be trusted. I grew up in a family where people say what they mean and if they don’t mean it, they don’t say it. As a result, we developed very trusting relationships with my brothers and parents and it continues to thrive under the same terms. When I came to the world, shock on me! I always trusted people because they said something and my, was I surprised by how much people lie! I thought because I liked someone, and they were kind towards me, they liked me as well. This sounds quite naïve but for the longest time, I was the poorest judge of character. It wasn’t until I had been hurt several times that I learned not to trust people simply because they said or implied something. Once in a while, I am still caught by surprise when people lie, or when I thought all good things about someone and they turn out to be the complete opposite. I am still unlearning this, but I have unlearned and come so far already. I have significantly improved in my character judgment and I can smell bullshit from miles away, at least most of the time.