Learning to unlearn; one of the most crucial things you ever have to teach yourself.

Warning: Take this information with a grain of salt. I do not have any education or knowleage of these subjects beyond my own thoughts, trauma and experiences.

Introduction

We can all agree that our childhood was not perfect, and no matter if our parents tried a lot, a bit or not at all, we all have been taught things that do not make sense in our body or brain. It might be supported by facts, but that does not mean it is in fact true. Learning yourself to unlearn what your parents, friends, teachers and society has taught and told you is an important milestone in growing, not only as an individual, but as a society.

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Learning through trauma

This is the way of learning that is most apparent to us. If you burn yourself on the stove, you will look twice before putting your hand there again. This is the way all animals learn. Evolution has made sure of it. You are supposed to learn through your experiences, wheather right or wrong. Just like our ancestors learned which berries to eat, we have learned our own fundamental survival skills. This does not involve food or shelter in the same way, but is still fundamental for our continued existence.

We learn to not get too drunk at a party with boys around because we got raped that one time. We learn not to speak up to our parents while living under their roof, because we do not want to get yelled at or beaten again. We do not want to get thrown out. These are the physical threaths we learn from. This is what keeps us alive, but there is also psychological trauma we learn a lot from.

This might include that time we were called fat, or gay as an insult; and in that, learned that it was a bad thing. It is when our father called us useless for not knowing how to cook or our partner who called us selfish for taking care of ourselves first. We learn from that moment, to not look or act gay, to loose weight, to not wallow in our sadness. We learn things that we will have to unlearn later in life, from the people who are supposed to teach us love, acceptance and life.

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You must unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth. That software no longer serves you if you want to live in a world where all things are possible.” Jacqueline E. Purcell

Learning from the things said & unsaid

I just covered a little bit in psychological trauma about how we learn from the said. We learn that we are selfish and we learn that we are bad at cooking, which is often false at the beginning of the abuse, but very often become more true as the abusive behavoiurs keep happening. We learn false information, we might be inexperienced in cooking when the abuse starts, but when it is ongoing or have ended we have convinced ourselves that we are bad at this task, and that in itself makes it harder to change, evolve, learn and get better at it.

Just like when you drop an egg when trying to make an omelette, you get more nervous the next time you get a new egg, since you do not want to repeat the incident, which makes you tense up, and in turn makes it more plausible to drop the new egg. It is the same thing when it comes to verbal trauma. While dropping an egg might not be as traumatic as being repetedly told you are not good enough, it has the same effect in making us nervous. When you are told you are bad at something repeatidly, you get nervous and want to prove to the person telling you this that they are wrong, which in turn makes you fail a lot more. And this is not to say that even if you succeded in your task they would be convinced. They are abusive, and will not applaud your accomplishments as much as they knock down on your faliures. In this, you learn from the said things, but you can also learn from the unsaid.

You walk down the narrow streets in the city with the street lights dimmed just enough so you still can see other people walking past a few houses in front of you. You pass a man in baggy clothes who looks like he is in his forties. He does not say a word, but when you see him look at you from top to bottom, scoff and smile. You know not to dress that revealing at night again. Your girlfriends do not speak of it, but you know that they have come to the same conclusion when you see your friend pack up a big hoodie out of her bag right before walking home after the next party. She looks at you with half a smile, as if to say 'boys will be boys, right'.

You will learn the same kind of lessons from the said that you will from the unsaid. You will learn to sit quiet and listen to the teacher if you want good grades, just as you will learn to sit quiet and listen to your boss if you want to keep your job in the future. You will learn the same lesson time after time without anyone uttering a single word. You will learn not to speak bad about your friends boyfriend when you see a bruise on her arm, because that is not polite. You learned this from when your father beat your mother time after time and nothing changed. You learned this from your aunt who saw what was happening but did nothing, and you will learn it again and again until you are the one with the bruises, protecting your husband, scared to speak up beause since no one is asking if something is wrong, everything must be okay, right?

You will learn from things said and actions understood. Behaviours passed down through generations will become yours and you will think they are normal because they are what everyone else around you does. You will learn, and one day you will teach.

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Learning through others experiences VS learning from our own

It is easy to learn from our own mistakes, even if we learn the wrong lesson, we learn to change and to not do the same mistake twice. However, we are also expected to learn from other peoples experiences. We do this through stories. Wheather our parents tell us about the time they dropped out of school and the bad snowball effect that had on their life or it is when our friend tells us about a guy they met on Tinder. We are expected to take these stories and advice as facts and move forward in life having learned through words what they learned through really hard experiences. But it often does not work like that, and when people find that out, they feel betrayed, like we did not take their word for it even tough we did. We might not share their view of the World, and our experiences might have taught us the exact opposite lesson. In that case we will often take into consideration what they are trying to teach us, but then go and do what we were going to do all along. And sometimes we even end up doing what they told us not to do even when we share the same view of the World. I do not have an answer for this yet, I have only lived for 21 years and I am not a psychology major, but I do know that your own experiences will always matter more in your decision making than other peoples experience.

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Realizing that what you know might be false

It is never an easy thing to realize that things you have believed your whole life is false. Sometimes it might even be hard to entertain the idea of something you thought was true being false. Wheather this be a religion/cult, worldly facts about how the World works or simply realizing your own worth after being told you are worthless your whole life. For me I realized that my voice was worth something, and that I should be listened to and respected when saying "No". But just like any change in mindset, it was not easy, because it did not only come with one revelation, it came with all the memories of men who changed my "No" to a "Maybe" or even a "Yes". Burried memories rarely come alone, but it is only in re-discovering all that was done to us that we can realize what we have been taught, and why we have been taught it, or taught ourselves it. Yet it is only with these pieces that we can look at life and realize all that we are conditioned to think, and with that split second of objective thinking, we can change our whole mindset about life and its people. Everything we know might be false, how wonderful. That means we might wake up tomorrow looking at the World through completley new eyes and seeing things we have never seem before. Your whole World might be turned upside down, but do not be scared, because it is a blessing to be able to rearrange our life and mindset over and over again until we have learned as much as humanly possible.

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“We must unlearn what we learned because a conditioned mind cannot comprehend the infinite.” Anonymous

Unlearning other peoples facts

I have been blessed enough to unlearn a lot about myself and the World, and I think you have too, even if you do not realize it. From the racist, homofobic parents that tried to teach us what they were like which we might have believed when we first heard it to the first time we went to school and our favorite teacher was an immigrant who tried really hard to keep the class together. What we precieve as facts changes all the time, and the reason for this is that too much that is believed to be facts are just opinions backed by facts. But you should never have those mixed up. Most opinions are based on some kind of facts, you can often pick and choose which one to believe or dwell on, wheather that be the small fraction of immigrants that commit crime, or the majority of immigrants that follow the law and help the country. Both are facts, but peoples opinions will choose what they focus on. Facts are facts, but when I wanted to take a gap year my father said that people who take a gap year ended up destroying their life, never returning to school, and they did not get any jobs. Is this backed by facts? Yes, and No. This is personal experiences made as statistics. All people have different stories, some might have never returned to school and had a really rough life, but many returned to school after having a few amazing gap years that changed their life forever and some might have never returned because they started their own buisnesses and made a living that way. There are too many stories, facts and opinions out there for us to learn and take into consideration when making up our minds, so the only conclusion is, what you precieve as facts depends on what you focus on, bad or good, faliures or success stories. But remember, these are just opinions disguised as facts.

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Unlearning your own facts

This is harder than everything I have covered in the other sections, but it is very important. And I do not have the exact answer on how to do it. For me it has just happened naturally. It can not be something you force. But it will happen, you must only be open to the idea of being wrong. Play with the idea in your head. I often play around and think about how the World works, if the universe is here by chance, or something else, what is beyond our universe, is there a World where the laws of physics does not apply? Is any of these 'crazy' conspiraciy theories right? Does the masses or our politicians decide what kind of society we have?
I can sit for hours just looking up at the ceeling or out of the window thinking about these things, although it is more fun to be able to discuss them with someone else. One of the best quotes I have ever heard is this:

Have your beliefs, but do not believe your beliefs
- JP Sears

One exercise you can do by yourself is to stand naked or in underwear in front of the mirror. Instead of pointing out your flaws, try to just stare for a while, in sort of a meditative state. Just observe the facts, without emotion. Look at yourself from top to bottom, even turning around if you feel like it. Start to think about all the amazing things your body can do. Your legs can carry you miles away, your vagina can bring new life into this World (no matter how much you hate your period, you must agree that it is a miracle), your tummy protects your organs, and have tasted some of the most amazing fuels this World has to offer. The scars on your skin is proof that you have lived and survived. Your body is a miracle. For my religious folks: think about how God created you all by himself to be perfect just the way you are, how resiliant he made you, how you will with his help be strong enough to survive and flourish in everything. And for the non-religious folks like myself: think about how every atom in your body is bound together all working to making you able to walk, talk and think. How no matter can be created or destroyed, which means every single part of you has been here since the beginning of time, and parts of you have been a part of countless other beings before they were a part of you. Think about how we are all connected.

Thank you for reading, I hope you at least learned something, even though this whole article became a big blur.