One of the biggest challenges to raising our spiritual awareness is unlearning the questionable truths that we’ve adopted about ourselves and our lives.
Here is a list of five things to UNLEARN in order to clear the path to your own truth:
- Trust your logical, thinking brain over your intuition. Since kindergarten, we are told that the best way to solve a problem is to work it out intellectually. Most of us never learn to listen to that intuitive voice, or to pay attention to our “gut feelings,” or to find meaning in our dreams, and it can take a lot of effort to overcome the feeling that we are being silly or stupid when we begin investigating these things. However, most of us can think of a time when we listened to that small, quiet voice over our logic and it helped to guide us, or when we refused to listen and wished we had. Remember that while there is a place for intellectual reasoning in our lives, our Higher Self resides in heart-centered thinking and intuitive knowing. Learn to trust your natural intuition.
- Loving yourself is selfish. As children, our awareness of Self changes from the infant’s sense of being at one with all others to a feeling of separation which begins to form our egos. It’s around this time that we learn that selfishness is bad, and that loving ourselves is selfish. We are encouraged to say “I love you” to family and friends, but not ourselves, and we grow up finding fault in our physical, emotional, and mental beings. Try this: look in the mirror and say, “I love you” out loud. Most people have a difficult time with this. But it’s a crucial step in honoring the Divine within and understanding how we are all connected.
- We should review past mistakes to instigate change. Spiritual teachers help us to understand how important it is to live in the moment, and that time spent on past regrets and future worries is simply distracting us from the happiness we could be enjoying in the present moment. While this is true, it can also be a very useful practice to review our past challenges with an eye to celebrating how far we’ve come. Normally, our thoughts about the past tend to focus on the negative. We rarely measure our success with our past accomplishments. But it’s important to evaluate your progress by looking at your life a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and objectively examining the ways you have grown. Are you more compassionate? Do you see more beauty in life? Are you less stressed, less prone to anger, more loving? Give yourself credit for the road you’ve already traveled, and you’ll find the road ahead seems less daunting.
- Competition is necessary and healthy. We live in an extremely competitive society. We spend many hours in our school’s gymnasium learning to overcome our opponents. Teachers compare us to other students, parents compare us to other children, friends and family pit us against each other. Then we enter the world of employment and have to compete for a job, for recognition, and for what we perceive as success. This thought process is completely oppositional to a spiritual life, in which we view ourselves as whole and unique, while being part of a larger, greater good. If the Divine lives within us all, how can any of us be BETTER than others? It takes mindfulness to overcome this tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others, but the peace that results from dropping the need to compete is life-changing.
- What others think of us is important. As soon as we begin to see ourselves as a separate entity from our mothers and other people around us, we develop self-consciousness. That self-consciousness is what forms our ego, or our mental image of ourselves. We learn to try to conform to the image that others have of us and we spend a lot of time learning how to fit in to avoid ridicule. Not conforming to the social labels others use to make themselves more comfortable around us is considered a social gaffe, and sometimes we’ll do just about anything to be accepted and liked. We hear ourselves being described as shy, clumsy, reckless, stupid, etc., and internalize these adjectives, accepting them as part of our identity. It takes a lot of courage to learn to shed the images that others have placed upon us and recognize ourselves as unique, divine beings. In order to do this, we have to understand that we all have our own unique version of the world, and that what others think of us has nothing at all to do with who we really are. The freedom that results from that revelation makes all the introspection so worthwhile!
Unlearning that which limits us allows us to grow and flourish like never before!