Learning to Unlearn

Personal Growth

My friend, Sara, reshared this post from Adam Grant on LinkedIn yesterday, and it resonated quite a bit. As I progress in different areas of my life, I find that growth is as much about learning as it is about unlearning.

When we enter the world as babies, we are a blank canvas. We soak in everything and can pick up just about anything over time. We are not afraid until we have an experience that scares us. We feel like we can conquer the world until someone tells us otherwise, or we suffer pain, or we hit a roadblock.

For better or worse, these experiences shape us, the way we see ourselves and the world.

Grant refers to unlearning as having the integrity to admit when you were wrong. While I agree, I think it goes deeper. To me, it's having the integrity to question your beliefs about yourself and the world.

I used to set goals, looking for answers on how to make progress. At work and home, I didn't realize how my own beliefs were holding me back. I had to unlearn to move forward.

Some examples that came to mind when I read Grant's post:

I'd imagine what it would like to be fit, but for years, I'd steer clear of exercise, thinking, "I'm the music and art kid. I'm not supposed to be fit. I don't play sports." Then, I went to college and met art kids who went to the gym. It took time to see myself differently, but I've enjoyed exploring fitness ever since. Getting up on stage to compete in powerlifting competitions meant so much to me because it was so far out of what I thought possible for myself. Funny enough, most of my powerlifting crew was in a creative field.

I think back to years of complaining about stomach aches, searching for answers. Meanwhile, I believed that a meal wasn't a meal without meat. Eating a plant-based diet seemed absurd, so I never entertained it. When I learned about the impact of constant meat consumption, I decided to experiment with cooking plant-based proteins like tofu and seitan. I found that I not only enjoy eating plant-based meals but guess what? No stomach aches.

This week, I started reading Grant's book Think Again which dives further into this concept. I'm enjoying it so far and look forward to continue practicing how to unlearn.

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