Never-Ending Unlearning

As you may have seen, I didn’t write anything last week. Well, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t publish anything last week. I wrote quite a lot, but none of it captured exactly what I wanted to say.

Honestly, my week was just a little too noisy.

On the previous week’s piece, I got a decent amount of commentary on the concept of unlearning. I wrote about it because I am passionate about it. I wrote about it because I have actively been doing it for three plus years. I wrote about it because I think, for adults, UN-learning might be more valuable than learning.

Maybe you want to know more about unlearning. Maybe you are wondering how to truly unlearn. Well, as with everything, I don’t have the answers. But I’m happy to share my experiences.

Unlearning is not easy. It’s even less easy to do whilst surrounded by noise (shout out last week). It’s not overly popular. It’s not at the top of people’s daily to-do list.

It takes time. It takes real commitment to yourself. It takes courage.

You run the risk of offending your family, friends, boss, clique, country club pals, pastor, teachers, and anyone who thinks you should behave exactly as they. You risk offending those living in the past. I made the internal decision that it was worth it. It was worth the risk to uncover who I really was and wanted to be.

Stubbornness has absolutely no place. Ditto ego.

Learning is often subconscious through what we see and hear. Unlearning is a very intentional exercise.

Unlearning holds the power of REAL change. I’ll vouch for that.

When and why did changing our minds become such a negative thing? Why did changing our minds become a weakness? Why is upholding tradition so positive?

Over the past three plus years, I’ve changed my mind on roughly 642.8 topics. Negative Nancies might say I’ve become wishy washy, hit a midlife crisis, or gone crazy. Positive Pollies might say I’ve grown immensely, or better yet, evolved. It all sounds fancy, but really I just changed my mind. I got off autopilot. I got new information.

Y’all remember a few years ago when I was writing incessantly about traveling solo, meeting strangers, and unveiling a new world? Y’all remember when I quit my job, sold my stuff, and moved to la la land to create a rather unique, intentional life from scratch?

Through meeting new, different people in new, different places and doing new, different activities, I took in an immense amount of new, different information. This is what helped me. There is no more direct way to say it.

This new way of life seeks to eliminate categories. I don’t define myself as anything anymore. I’m just here, designing something different. (Ok, maybe I’m a very ambitious golfer). Categories can crush us. Categories can define us. Categories can confine us. You’re a Republican? Divorced? A Buddhist? An accountant? A homeowner? Brilliant. We are so much less. We are so much more.

The neat thing about seeking to eliminate categories is that it promotes open mindedness, or more specifically, a bona fide opportunity to undo and unlearn. Not having categories allows free thinking. Not having categories promotes common sense. By not having categories, the category can’t own us.

But I’m not a dope. I know categories exist loud and clear, and in the larger world, likely always will. One of the issues we are facing head on right now is that many people are born with facts that we then place into categories that, unfortunately, have caused them to be treated both overtly and covertly as unequals for centuries.

Wanted: Lots of conscious unlearning to overtake subconscious learning.

New and different really was and is still the key. It opened my eyes to the subconscious promotion of rigid, self-serving systems. Racial, economic, religious, educational, healthcare, legal, and on and on. Better not think for yourself. Better not believe anything different. Better not rock the boat.

Where do you want to get better? Where do you want to make an impact? Do you want to fight the war on racial injustice? Do you want to get better at golf? Do you want to be a better father or mother or human?

The hardest, yet arguably most important piece of my getting exponentially better at golf has been the unlearning of years worth of bullshit habits. The new, correct stuff I’ve learned has been a piece of cake. The bad habits? I continue to fight them every day.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to do. Lord, no. As the genius Dave Chappelle said, “I’m here to help you reveal yourself to you.” Your best self, as the cool kids say. Your 2020 potential.

Daily action. Daily maintenance. Make the time. Make the effort. My whole world changed. I support you.

Have a great week.-Benj

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