Doesn’t it feel great when you’re the expert in the room? That pleasure you get from looking up something on Google mid-argument and realising that you were right all along! Knowing your stuff makes you feel great even if that stuff ends up being a small obscure fact.
Every one of us is wired to feel proud of the knowledge that we have. But once we’ve learnt something, that knowledge becomes static if it’s not updated. And no, don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “Upskill if you want to survive in this economy!” blogs.
In fact, this piece talks about the very first step we have to take to give our knowledge that system upgrade: unlearning.
Unlearning in the direction of getting to know ourselves and the world around us without the haze of bias and judgement clouding the path. This means challenging the ideals that our education systems or societies have set for us.
Asking questions is always a good idea, especially when it’s starting from a space of curiosity. Psychologist and Educator Mariana Plata suggests breaking down the origins of our thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, feelings, and biases by asking ourselves the important questions. You can start by thinking of a strongly held belief about yourself or about the world and ask yourself:
Where do these beliefs come from?
Do these support my mental health?
Is this in alignment with the life I want?
Is this congruent with my authenticity and the person I am? The person I want to become?
Do I believe this to be true to myself?
But isn’t it exhausting to question everything constantly? Yes, it can be. But at times questioning strongly held limitations can feel like a weight has lifted off our shoulders. For example, I always assumed anger was a bad emotion, that it existed only to be suppressed. I was always told I was a polite, soft-spoken person and that anger wasn’t really an emotion that fit into that image. When I started questioning this, I realised the difference between being angry and aggressive and it was liberating knowing that I don’t have to suppress my anger anymore.
Unlearning things we know will open doors for us, make room for new experiences, creativity, empathy and growth. This process does not aim to reject everything society teaches us, it’s to accept the things that align with who we are, add and subtract beliefs based on our core values, instead of just accepting things because they are supposed to be a certain way.
All we have to do is learn how to unlearn because…
“The key to fruitfulness isn’t in adding, but in pruning” – Christopher P Meade
Sanjana has recently graduated with a degree in Psychology and is interning at The Thought Company to gain more knowledge and experience on her path to becoming a mental health professional. She is interested in understanding what makes people resilient in the face of adversity. She has a knack for cooking, origami and re-reading Khaled Hosseini books. Her favourite way to de-stress is watching a Pixar movie curled up next to her dogs. If she could be any Pixar character, she’d be Remy from Ratatouille!