We talk about being lifelong learners. We talk about learning as much as we can. We put an incredible premium on education and how much we learn.
I argue that it’s more important that you unlearn much of what you have been taught. The things I have unlearned have served me much more in becoming who I truly am than that which I have learned.
Here are just a few of my favorite things that I have unlearned:
I need to be perfect
I am in the process of unlearning this one, and it has been incredibly helpful.
Perfectionism is a trauma response. Imposter syndrome is a trauma response. Our inner critic is activated to try and protect us from becoming emotionally overwhelmed again by the thing that emotionally overwhelmed us when we were much younger.
Nobody tells us that we were emotionally overwhelmed, and that the event is over, and that we are now safe again.
With nobody to tell us this, our inner critic stays with us into adulthood, and we identify it as perfectionism and imposter syndrome.
We have lots of tricks in our arsenal to fight perfectionism, but unless we discover and address the trauma that caused it to happen in the first place, then it will never go away.
Some physical and mental illnesses are just random
Western medicine teaches us that many conditions are just random, that they just happen, and we have no control over whether or not they happen.
This includes mental illnesses like anxiety and depression and physical illnesses such as cancer.
I have been diagnosed with a language disorder called semantic pragmatic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, allergies, and kidney stones.
These are all illnesses that people have told me just happen, there is no reason for it, and the symptoms can be managed with medication and some sort of therapy, such as speech therapy for the language disorder and behavior therapy for the OCD.
A previous therapist of mine told me that my mental health conditions were manageable. They would never go away, but they were manageable.
Six years into my health journey, I have learned that all of this is a load of shit.
There is no such thing as a random physical or mental illness. Everything has a root cause. Every single thing that occurs on this planet has a root cause. We may not know what that is, but there is always a root cause.
First, I reversed my obesity and high blood pressure through nutrition and exercise. This was an obvious one. At the same time, I was also reversing my anxiety and depression through meditation.
Second, once I discovered that I had been traumatized as a baby and toddler, once I started addressing that trauma, my allergies and kidney stones started having slightly more frequent flareups when I was triggered.
But I made a connection! I realized that the trauma that was stored in my body was expressing itself through allergies and kidney stones.
The OCD that I was diagnosed with were also trauma symptoms, and everything that I was doing, from chewing my food a certain number of times to locking the door a certain number of times, was my attempt at being perfect. Which is a trauma response that babies and toddlers have to adapt to an environment that otherwise overwhelms them.
I’d be willing to bet anything that the language disorder I was diagnosed with was a trauma response as well. My first day of school, the teacher said there was something wrong and that I needed to be evaluated. I was, and a speech problem was diagnosed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder did not become an official diagnosis until 1980. That’s the year that I was born. Trauma wasn’t incredibly well understood back then, so there’s no way that anyone knew to look for that in me. So, I had to discover it myself using my own intuition 35 years later.
The main point is: nothing is random. Everything has a root cause, whether we know what it is or not.
Our perception of reality is reality
Our individual and collective perceptions of reality are not reality. We made it all up.
New Jersey does not exist in nature. Neither do roads.
Even the things that do exist in nature, we made up names for them. A tree doesn’t know it’s a tree. That’s just part of the common language that we use to describe it.
Time isn’t real. The future isn’t real. The past isn’t real.
These are all how we make sense of things. But we are all part of this system that we cohabitate with trees and animals and rivers and other things that we gave names to so that we can make sense of them.
We put such a premium on education, and stereotypically, nerds and overachievers know everything about everything. The truth is, they know everything about things that we made up to make sense of the world that we inhabit.
We tell each other all the time “only an idiot wouldn’t know that!” or “geez, would you learn how to spell?” We made it all up! Why are we criticizing people for not getting with a program that we made up to begin with?
The fact that we made it all up is of great comfort to me. We are currently renegotiating social contracts, and many groups of people who have been historically marginalized are speaking up and fighting for their humanity. If we made up the system that marginalized them to begin with, then we can certainly make one up that doesn’t marginalize anybody!
We know anything
Here is a hard truth: we know nothing.
We know absolutely nothing.
We have our perceptions and interpretations of things in the world, but we know absolutely nothing.
I’ve recently learned some things about quantum physics and what scientific evidence shows us.
We have the perception that we live in a physical world. When physicists broke down atoms, they found protons, neutrons, and electrons. When they broke protons and neutrons down, they found quarks.
When you keep breaking down these particles, all you find is energy. There are no physical materials that make any of these things up.
Everything is energy.
Humans are made of atoms. So wait….we’re not physical beings? But we feel like we are!
Quantum physics reveals to us that everything is energy. We’ve thought for a long time that there’s a physical realm and energetic realm that we all live in, but it turns out that it’s all an energetic realm.
All energy comes from a central source and goes back to a central source. What people for centuries have intuited spiritually as “God” has scientific evidence to back it up.
We perceive things to be a certain way. We perceive the color red. Bats don’t perceive the color red. They just experience things the way they experience them.
Human babies don’t perceive the color red. They don’t yet have the consciousness to perceive that things look different and have different colors.
“Red” doesn’t appear anywhere in nature. Neither does hard. Neither does soft. Neither does hot or cold.
These are just our perceptions and how we experience things, individually and many times collectively, though not always.
We have control over reality
We have absolutely zero control over reality. We can control how we respond to it, but we have no control over it.
We think we have control over nature. We don’t.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, we have done everything that we possibly can to control the virus. But we can’t.
Viruses do what viruses do. They travel. They spread. They find hosts with hospitable environments to infect and replicate.
We try to put up barriers, such as social distancing and mask wearing and such, but viruses do what viruses do and we cannot directly affect the actions that they take to find hosts with hospitable environments to infect and replicate.
But we can control how we respond to it.
We have data that shows commonalities in people who have really bad outcomes from COVID-19. If you look at the CDC’s Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics when it comes to COVID-19 deaths, it says the following under “Comorbidities and other conditions”:
For over 5% of these deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 4.0 additional conditions or causes per death.
Think about that. People in the U.S. who died of COVID-19 had an average of four other health conditions. Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are high on these lists.
This coronavirus finds hospitable hosts in people who are heavily inflamed due to these health conditions and have immune systems that are suppressed due to these health conditions.
We can’t stop nature from doing what it does, and viruses from doing what they do, but perhaps we can make our systems less hospitable to viral infections by getting ourselves healthier. This is an example of not trying to control nature and instead controlling our reaction to it.
What we call asymptomatic cases are likely just people’s immune systems working as nature has intended them to work, but they only work if we give them what they need, including proper nutrition, movement, sleep, and stress management.
This would be us not trying to control what the world around us does but instead reacting to it in a way that conforms with nature and reality as it is.
We are our bodies, our minds, and the contents of them
We identify with our bodies. We identify with our minds. We identify with our thoughts. We think we are all of those things.
And when we are not happy with any of them, and we think we can’t change them, that is when we suffer.
The truth is: we are not any of those things.
What we are is conscious awareness.
We are conscious of our physical bodies and the content of those bodies. We are conscious of our minds and of our thoughts.
But everything changes.
Our bodies change. Cells die and new ones are generated. We don’t have the same body that we had a year ago. It looks that way to us because of our perceptions, but everything changes.
Our thoughts can change. Once we become aware of our thoughts and can question whether or not they’re true, we can create new ones.
Nothing about us is permanent, and nothing about us is even really us. We are simply conscious awareness. Awareness of the body that we inhabit and awareness of the world around us and how we understand it.
If you feel stuck, a great way to get unstuck is to increase your consciousness.
With increased conscious awareness comes the ability to change your reality. If you don’t like your current reality, then you can change it.
Unlearning and increasing consciousness is power
The old adage says that knowledge is power. But as we have seen throughout this journey that I just took you on, we don’t actually know anything. New discoveries prove us wrong all the time, and we can come to realize that a particular subject that we have taken great pains to learn everything about, and get credentialed and certified in from the most prestigious institutions of learning…..everything that we learned frequently turns out to be completely wrong.
So don’t hold onto being right or being knowledgeable about a certain subject with all your might. Your ability to unlearn what you’ve previously been taught and increase your consciousness about what we know to be true will be your greatest assets.
These are what will bring you back to your true nature, which will allow you to live life in the most comfortable way possible for you.
Living life as ourselves is the best way to live it. So go forth and unlearn all of the things which took you away from being yourself and your true nature.