Theme of April: Unlearning.

You might be asking yourself, “what does unlearning mean?” Unlearning has many ways of being interpreted and applied to our lives but I like to think of it as actively and intentionally removing a concept, thought or belief from our awareness AND (this is really important) unawareness.

So, let’s just dig in:

When we are kids, our brains are designed in those early years to just absorb information and not think critically about it. This is great in some ways - this is how we learn language, and to walk, and smile. But that also means we absorb pretty much anything the adults, TV shows, commercials, or social media tell us and we accept it as fact. Take a second and think about what this might mean to you personally. Anything come to mind? GREAT! This is where you start your unlearning. Here are a few ideas that are really common unlearning areas of work:

  • diet culture

  • stereotypes

  • personal values

  • Religious beliefs

  • implicit biases

  • Family myths and what is “normal”

  • judgements of others

There could also be some unlearning to be done in more day-to-day things like:

  • “this is the one way to do a kettlebell swing”

  • Burger up has the best french fries (this is true though!)

  • I am not good at ________ so I won’t put myself out there and try.

  • My dad always said that I am a really brave so I never let anyone know when I feel hurt or weak.

It is worth it to look at the areas of your life that might need some unlearning because allowing those concepts to live on in your life is choosing to limit yourself, hurt yourself and others and not live your most full and beautiful life.

A helpful question to ask yourself when something comes up that you feel must be unlearned for you is, “Is this something I believe or is this something I was taught to believe?” One of the most important things you can do for yourself to unlearn a thought or belief is to stop reinforcing what you want to unlearn. An example of this would be that if in your family you got the message that, “We don’t talk about our feelings. We ignore them and then they go away.” Something that is reinforcing to that belief would be as an adult, avoiding sharing your feelings with anyone and just pushing them down and hoping they disappear (pro tip: they don’t). To stop reinforcing that belief, you would want to seek out opportunities to be open and vulnerable. This would help you unlearn the belief that feelings are bad and that they shouldn’t be shared and replace it with a new belief that feelings are sometimes not really fun to have but always important and that is healthy to share and acknowledge them. If that sounds uncomfortable, welcome to the work. Any kind of personal work comes with discomfort. I often say that if something feels like sandpaper to your brain, you are probably on the right track.

Written by:  Jessi Schlachter

Written by: Jessi Schlachter