We live in the age of knowledge.And learning is king in the knowledge age. If you don’t believe me,just cast your minds eye back to the number of webinars,seminars or e-learning courses you have come across in the last 6 months. If you know me,you would know that I describe myself as a life long learner. I love learning but even I have had to put in some boundaries around the whole online seminar thing because believe me zoom fatigue is real!
I find though that the other piece that is often overlooked in the knowledge maze is the art of unlearning.Unlearning as defined by the Cambridge dictionary is to make an effort to forget your usual of doing something so that you can learn a new and sometimes better way
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.Alvin Toffler, futurist and philosopher
The art of unlearning entails getting rid of bad habits, self limiting beliefs, baseless preconceptions or myths/tales that have been peddled for so long,they have become ‘facts’. We all have some of these ‘facts’ that we need to unlearn . I will share below a few things that I have had to unlearn in the last couple of years.
“Big bones” are why I am overweight ; Now there is such a thing as being ‘big boned’. But it’s not what a lot of us think when we use the term. According to studies by medical experts,large bones do exist & some people with larger bones are slightly larger for their heights. That said “heavy” bones do not exist.A lot of times being overweight or obese is not down to the weight of the bones. This is a really good article on the ‘big boned myth’.
From a young age , i tended to be the ‘heavier’ one in my friend group. So that ‘big boned’ myth came to play quite early on in my life .Maybe as a child it was great so as not to shatter my self esteem. But as I grew older it was one it was one I pulled out of my armoury to console myself even when it was obvious that i was eating too much & not moving enough.It was the reason why I couldn’t shift the ‘baby weight’. “I am not made to be slim” was something I firmly held on to.
Now don’t get me wrong I am still not what you would consider a ‘slim’ person. But that should have never been the focus. The moment I got a nudge to do something about being overweight from a medical proffessional ,I had to change my mindset.
I began to unlearn that being overweight was just about being slim but about me taking charge of what I ate,moving more & making healthier choices.I began to look at things that I could do differently and alas it was possible for me not to be overweight.
I know body weight is a very emotive issue for a lot of people and I wholeheartedly agree that losing weight is not the end all and be all of life. That said what are those self limiting beliefs or ‘facts’ that are stopping you from even trying to get healthier. And it’s not just about being slimmer. It could be about not panting after climbing the stairs,or even improving blood sugar.Whatever is the driver for you,you might need to unlearn some of those ‘facts’ or ‘beliefs’ that you are currently holding onto.
Black people don’t need sunscreen; My son was going on a school trip to the beach. The list from school included a hat & sunscreen. I laughed at the list & said “since when did black people need sunscreen?’ This was something I truly believed because I thought our higher melanin levels was sufficient protection from the sun .
It’s something that we have peddled for so long & now believe is a fact .People of darker skin tones do also need protection from the harmful Ultra violet rays that can be gotten from being in the sun for too long This article does a fantastic job of explaining why black people also need to wear sunscreen .
Darker skin not needing sun protection is a belief that I have had to unlearn.Wearing sunscreen is now part of me and my children’s skin care routineThis is a list of sun screen products for darker skin by my favourite skin care blogger . She is also a medical doctor and looks at skincare holistically.
Artists are the only creatives; For a very long time i believed that only artists could be creative. And so I never allowed myself to think that I could be creative. I thought you had to do stuff your with your hands to be called a ‘creative’.It’s a belief that took me a very long time to unlearn . I even wrote a blog post about it.
The unlearning for me on creativity was understanding that it was not just about having an innate ability but daring to try out new ideas & things .That unlearning journey is what pushed me to publish my first ever blog post.
Finding Purpose’ is an event or incident; Really hope I am able to explain this one as best as I can. We have all heard the motivational speakers, ‘Find your purpose’ they say like it’s one mythical thing that ‘special’ people find. And i would look at all those people are doing ‘big’ things- setting up companies,charities,flying to space,researching the Covid-19 vaccine etc. And think ‘So what purpose is little me adding to this world?’.
I have unlearned that purpose is just ONE thing to be fulfilled. Yes as a Christian my faith leads me to believe that the ultimate purpose of my life is to bring glory to God. But I believe the process of learning & growing are all elements that move us to fulfilling the purpose that I believe God has has for every single human in this earth
I am currently studying the life of David in the Bible before He became King of Israel. He fulfilled purpose as a shepherd boy, as a musician,as a warrior & eventually as a king. The process of becoming king was part of what he needed to be who God had called him to be. To the eye of the world a shepherd is not as great as a king. But a shepherds purpose is to lead the sheep & keep them safe. You can also draw similar parallels to what a king or leader does for his people. So regardless of whether or not he became King he was fulfilling purpose as a shepherd boy . Even the ability to lead yourself by following a routine is part of fulfilling purpose.
I have unlearned that purpose is something that we find or stumble into. That attitude often allows us to postpone giving our best to what we have to do in front of us right now. Every stage and season of life will be different and one of the ways we ‘fulfil’ purpose is by doing what we can with what we currently have at our disposal.
For a lot of us unlearning is a lot more uncomfortable than learning. The ability to question our beliefs or assumptions about a things requires a deeper level of introspection. But I really do believe that the advantages from unlearning & seeking a new, more accurate, way of looking at things is as valuable as gaining new knowledge.
Like I said earlier ,I truly believe learning is a life long endeavour. But I would also add that unlearning is a key part of growing and becoming who God has called us to be.
I would really love to read your comments on things that you are unlearning. I intentionally added the sun screen point as I do not think you only have to unlearn ‘deep’ or ‘philosophical’ beliefs. It could be as silly as the lyrics of a song you have always thought was right. This blog post can not contain ALL the lyrics of songs that I have had to unlearn. So please do share and let’s all unlearn together.
As usual, thank you so much for reading & have a lovely day ahead.