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Lesson in humility

MY YEAR OF UNLEARNING: Questioning the core of my identity and my beliefs

I had just moved countries and was questioning why I didn’t feel as good as I wanted to. With ample time to adjust to my surroundings, I had purposely created an environment of minimal stress coupled with the luxury of time on my hands, and yet I literally couldn’t garner the energy to get excited about anything. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t thriving in the peak of health and happiness, and in fact realised I was functioning well below par. Everything was an effort – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I recognised there was something profoundly important going on for me.

So I began digging, and my spade sparked the flint that would set my world alight. In my journey of truth, my first big lesson in unlearning had begun. I also knew I had to listen to my body, so I took a deep breath and started my research. And, possibly for the first time in my life, I began REALLY questioning what I thought I knew to be true. Because I had to. And I got smacked upside the head – talk about cognitive dissonance!

Not just the personal development “What’s-it-all-about?” type questions (which I had done for years), but some fundamental “Is-this-really-true?” stuff. Questions whose answers had once formed the core of my identity and my beliefs. Questions whose answers had guided the narrative I lived by, believing – as I had for nearly four decades – that I was ‘well informed and on the right path’. And oh, the moral high ground! (Blinkers you see, have a way of focusing our perception in a particular direction, but they also preclude us from seeing the multitude of possibilities that actually exist.) Questions whose answers I discovered – much to my later amusement – actually tasted quite good in humble pie!

Everything I held to be true, everything I thought I knew, swept away when I finally opened my eyes and allowed a new sense of objectivity to enter.

As the brain fog started to lift and I opened myself to the possibility that my former health path was not the ‘only’ or ‘right’ one, I realised I had been given an enormous set of gifts:

  • the ability to admit I had been wrong (on so many levels);
  • the recognition of how furious I was at being lied to, at the expense of my physical and mental health;
  • the ability to self-correct and begin to heal the multitude of ailments (both seen and unseen) that I had accumulated;
  • the ability to acknowledge that I – like so many – had simply been doing my best with the information I had at the time;
  • and probably most importantly, the awareness and compassion to forgive myself in light of all of the above.

I learnt I had to unlearn so much of what I held as truth.

I learnt I had to rethink the world as I knew it. And eighteen months later I appreciated how profound the resulting shift was – in the most disarming and delightful of ways! The shift gave me new insight. The shift reminded me that integrity, resilience, kindness, self-care and compassion remain valid to my very core. The shift reminded me that I should question everything with an open heart, and an (even more) open mind too. The shift reminded me that there is always another way.