While everyone’s childhood is different, there are a few common concepts that we have all been brought up to believe.
These seem like truths and it’s difficult to question them, but when you do, your world can open up and start to change for the better.
Here are five things we learned when we were young that we still believe today.
1) Starting Over Should Be a Last Resort
I want you to think of the last time you thought all was lost and you were faced with starting over in an area of your life. Remember that feeling of loss, grief, anger, hopelessness?
We’ve all experienced hardship in our lives — some more than others — but the notion that starting over is off limits is one of the biggest lies we continue to tell ourselves today. It used to be that when someone lost a job, it could have meant their lives were over.
And in many cases, it meant real tragedy for families. But we have access to so much more than our parents did, and even our parents have access to so much more than they did when they were younger. Yet, we still find ourselves believing that if we have to start over in life, it must be a bad thing.
Contrary to popular belief, starting over can mean a fresh start, a chance to reinvent oneself, a chance to learn something new or try something new. It doesn’t spell doom and gloom when someone loses their job after 20 years anymore. Chances are, that person will welcome the change after the initial shock wears off.
2) No One Should Have to Be Uncomfortable
There is a growing body of literature to support the idea that we need to be more uncomfortable in life in order to achieve the hard things.
We need to be hungry if we want to lose weight, and that’s okay. We need to save money if we want to take a vacation, instead of putting all the charges on our credit card and worrying about how to pay it off later. We need to do less now so we can do more later.
In our instant gratification world, it can seem daunting to sit and save and wait patiently for things to come our way, but this discomfort actually makes the reward even more rewarding. Earning something rather than charging it to a plastic card can make life a little more sweet and make you realize that you are capable of achieving your dreams. Without that discomfort, we continue to do second rate work, we don’t reach our potential, and our children suffer because they are not being challenged enough in life.
3) Grief Can Ruin Our Lives
As parents we try to shield our children from the hardships of the world, but those hardships can make us who we are today and allow us to continue to develop as functional human beings. My dad died when I was 8 years old and my mother wouldn’t let me go to the wake to say goodbye to him. I never forget that feeling of loss, but I know she was just trying to protect me. So when I had a child and a family member passed away, I made sure to include him in the wakes and family meetings because I wanted him to be able to cope with grief and have closure so he could move on in his little life. If we hide the real world from ourselves and our children we’ll be lost when life actually happens to us. Grief does not ruin our lives, it makes us stronger and more capable of coping with what is eventual for all of us.
4) Experiencing Something Makes it True
How we experience the world has a great impact on our lives. As we recount stories to one another, the stories sometimes change as we remember more and more about the situations, the people involved, and the outcomes.
But what we don’t do enough of is ask ourselves if that’s what really happened. We are taught at a young age to question what we hear, but we don’t question what we see or experience.
If we question our experiences, we can learn from them and grow as more engaged human beings. If I hadn’t questioned my mother’s decision to let me go to my father’s wake, I would never have let my own son attend his grandmother’s wake.
I would have thought that was how things happened. Because I questioned my own experience, I changed my experience the next time something similar rolled around for me, and thus impacted another human being’s experience of the world too.
5) People Can’t Change
Oh boy, this one is getting old, isn’t it? Of course people can change. What’s true though, is that you can’t change people. Change has to come from within and while we think people can’t change because they are not responding to our plots to get them to change, it does not mean they are not capable of it.
Change is hard, but not impossible. Don’t get sucked into believing that people are the way they are and that you are the way you are, forever. Nothing is forever.
Question what you think you know and start challenging your experiences and you’ll find that you are able to change your thinking, your actions, your words, and your beliefs much easier than the world would have you think.