Richard Rohr wrote in his book Learning to Breathe Underwater that most people don’t see the world as it is, they see is as they are. We view it through the lens of our own perception which is influence by our perception of our own experiences. These experiences are often buried deep in our unconscious.
He goes on, “As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you.” The way to that acknowledgement is letting go and unlearning.
In my own journey to unlearning, adopting an attitude of curiosity and wonder has been helpful. In reflecting on the experiences that have created self-limitations, I ask myself what I don’t know that may have played a part in the experience.
For example, if the self-limitation came from an adult’s actions in my childhood, what do I know now about that adult and why they behaved the way they did? If I don’t know that, what do I know about human conditioning that may have caused their behavior?
Often I can recognize that their own unconscious garbage and self-limitations kept them from communicating or acting as their best self. In that space, I can sow the seed of empathy. Through empathy for others, I also cultivate empathy for my own unconscious garbage that has led me to not show up as the best version of myself.
Brene Brown wrote in Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, “Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”
In the quest for freedom to be the greatest version of you, be willing and curious enough to get still enough to find what lives in your heart and to turn your back on the inner critic who says you don’t deserve that freedom. You do.
Letting go and unlearning seems to be a constant journey. Just about the time I think I have improved my skills, I discover a whole new layer of unconscious garbage to be cleaned up. The cycle begins again. Always we begin again. Perhaps that is why we are here and human, to constantly be creating and cleaning up the garbage.