The other day, I read a quote from Gandhi in which he advises that “it is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.” Holy cow! I thought, with no disrespect intended. Of course! Many people are willing to learn, but how many of us are willing to UNlearn what we think we already know??
The path of learning sometimes comes with hard lessons that remind us that we don’t, in fact, know it all. I think many of us like to read about and explore and search for new wisdoms. But if we take the view that there is a Body of Knowledge out there to learn, and we just have to learn it all and then we are done, then we are really being rather myopic.
If it is true that the only constant is change, then we can’t let ourselves think that we are ever done learning. Even if we’ve learned some really Big Lessons and come a long way and had some Life-Altering Revelations, we can’t rest on our laurels. There will always be more to learn. Plus, what happens when you come up against a new situation in your life, one that doesn’t match anything you’ve ever had before? Sometimes, applying your old knowledge doesn’t work for the new situation.
No one likes to be humbled or to admit flaws. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to look in the mirror and say, “You screwed up, pal. You’ve got some soul-searching to do.” Most times, when we run up against stuff we don’t want to hear, we deny it and fight it.
But what would happen if we were always willing to learn AND unlearn? Let’s say someone challenged your beliefs or stated an opinion opposite to yours. Or, harder still, pointed out a personal item that you might want to work on. Generally, when someone pushes a button like that, most of us react angrily or feel wounded in some way. What if, instead, we chose to see that emotional response as a Messenger? We could say, Hmmm, there’s that Messenger again. Perhaps he’s telling me that I have an opportunity to learn, unlearn, and grow here if I put ego aside and examine the issue honestly and objectively.
Hard work? Definitely. Worth it? Always.