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Unlearning the Old: Creating the New

Old dock on a body of water reflecting the clouds overhead

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”

—Khalil Gibran 

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge”

—Tuli Kupferberg  

Sometimes in our relationships, jobs, or communities, we begin to recognize unhealthy behaviors that no longer work for us. Toxic environments we might have tolerated in the past (or been subjected to during childhood) suddenly become unbearable. That shift toward desiring something better—something healthier—is crucial to our individual and collective growth.

For example, if a parent, romantic partner, or work colleague spoke to us in abusive ways in the past, we may decide going forward that it’s imperative for us to acquire healthy communication skills. Those efforts might involve learning how to peacefully resolve conflicts, noticing when we’re triggered, setting boundaries for our emotional well being, and deciding what we will and will not tolerate from others when they speak to us.

If we are in an environment where there is ongoing drama, lying, name-calling, or manipulation, such dysfunctional behavior might feel familiar. It is not, however, healthy.

Unlearning longstanding destructive patterns requires awareness of what is not appropriate conduct. It necessitates a willingness to try something new, such as initiating steps that move us toward people and situations that are more loving, more compassionate, and more caring.

Unlearning the old also involves recognizing our deep-rooted biases. As we get to know people who are different from us, we expand our knowledge of this vast, beautiful, diverse world; we learn more about ourselves in the process as well. In doing this work, we will likely need to venture outside of our comfort zones—rather than simply embracing the stereotypes presented in movies or on social media. But being curious—about people, their backgrounds, and their cultures—helps us grow.

In creating new ways of being, seek out role models for how you want to be in the world. These individuals might be teachers we had in school, trusted spiritual guides, counselors, or simply friends who treat people with respect.

Try welcoming life-affirming values, such as:

Openness. Curiosity. Truth. Imagination. Courage.

May these qualities guide our vision as we move forward, together, in our commitment toward positive change.

Be well.

Peace & Love, 

Diana Ensign

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