On the path to unlearning…
Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning – Richard Rohr. I am reading a number of books at moment and this seems to be a common thread through all of them. I am a little slow sometimes and need to hear things repeatedly before they sink in, but once they do, it changes things for me.
About 9 months ago I had to find a new therapist, and one of the first things she did was give me script to repeat out loud multiple times a day in an attempt to rewire my brain and the way I think. I was really diligent the first few weeks and then life happened – as it does – and I forgot. I have started again recently, and hopefully, will keep it up.
But, from what I understand RR to be saying, it’s about unlearning my automatic responses and not about learning some new method or ideology. It’s about unlearning the lies I based my behaviours on -actions and reactions – and learning the truth, replacing the lies with the truth. It’s about becoming the real me and not the me I think you want me to be.
RR also says “We are largely concerned with surviving successfully“. I have made a career out of doing this – surviving. But isn’t life about more than that? Shahna Nequist says something that resembles me – “I choose to outrun and overstuff my life to avoid the darkness.” I am learning, though, that this doesn’t work – you can’t outrun anything. The darkness, pain, nightmares are still there, lurking. The only way to outrun the darkness is to turn on a light, or light a candle – shine a little truth on the situation. I have decided I am too old now to pretend to be what I am not.
I have been reading a little book called “You are what you believe” and it too hints at unlearning beliefs we have based our lives on.
“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy . Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” – Anthony Robins. If you doubt about the power of your beliefs contrast the one who is willing to strap on a vest and blow himself and those around him up, to the little nun in Calcutta, who dedicated her life to the poor and sick, because of what they believe.
The experts tell us that we have 4 basic needs
- Need to live
- The need to love and be loved
- The need to feel important
These four needs and what we believe about them, dictate our behaviour, our actions.
Anne Lamont says “my mind is a bad neighbourhood” and I have to agree with her there. Looking back I can so many times where my faulty, sometimes toxic, thinking has brought me to a place I don’t want to be. Many times to the brink of suicide. Those thoughts do not meet my need to live, so need to be changed.
This is a process and I am still trying to identify things I need to unlearn, the beliefs that I have gone wrong. There is a huge work in progress sign over my life right now. It’s hard, and painful, but will so be worth it in the end – I think or dare to believe. This is a journey I can no longer avoid.