At the turn of each new year, not only do we get to decide what we want to do with our fresh start, but we also must decide what to carry forward with us into the next season of life. While there are many things we like to leave behind from 2021, there are countless life lessons that our most difficult times have instilled in us. But which of these will help us become the person we want to be in the new year? And which are the life lessons we need to unlearn in order to become the best possible versions of ourselves?
Today’s blog reviews four life lessons that you should unlearn this 2022.
#1 Love is Conditional
When I think about this life lesson, I’m reminded of traditional marriage vows that claim that love can withstand both ends of the spectrum: “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer,” and so on. This vow is part of what makes the commitment of marriage so beautiful. Yet this type of love isn’t what many of us experience in our families growing up or the realities of our day-to-day life in those intimate relationships. The truth is, we’re affected by those early relationships with our caregivers. And many of those early life lessons are still (negatively) affecting us today.
It isn’t always done intentionally. Here’s what happens. The very same attention from your caregivers that taught you how to behave and rained praises down when you did “good” created an association in your mind between love and performance. Some families cemented that bond by withholding love and affection. This created this life lesson and the toxic belief that love needs to be earned. It’s this belief that has no doubt led to anxiety, depression and potentially even inspired the neverending quest to find someone who will love you on the bad days (not realizing that the love you really need is from yourself).
#2 Connection = Sameness
Many of us fall into the trap of believing that in order to be desirable to others, we must be the same as them. We alter our opinions, our thoughts and maybe even what we wear in an attempt to fit in. In our intimate relationships, we cannot tolerate disagreements. We may struggle with the need to see the world in the same way as those most important to us. However, in our attempt to create connections with others, we end up losing connection to ourselves.
#3 Feeling Emotions Make You Weak
Many of us grew up in households where the idea of “regulating emotions” wasn’t common knowledge. Or even talked about in the parenting books (if yours were even the type to seek out parenting support). Our parents were working with the tools they learned from their parents. Not much thought was given to the phrases that so casually made their way into our psyche, remaining with us still. The ever-classic “Big girls don’t cry” or “It’s not a big deal, get over it” or even the seemingly harmless “You’re fine” are phrases that are anything but harmless. We learned to stuff those feelings down. Or funnel them into “safer” or more accepted emotions like anger to survive in these homes.
#4 Other’s Approval Determines Your Worth
In these families, we learn first about whose opinion matters most. And what we need to do to earn their favor. Do we need to tip-toe around their feelings in order to keep the peace? Voila—people-pleasing and codependent behaviors are rewarded. Do they show affection only when you care for their needs first?—you’ve just self-sacrificed your way to always being second.
All of these life lessons you should unlearn can be thought of as our “survival skills”. However, just because they helped us function in family systems that were not understanding of our emotional needs does not mean that they should hold any merit in the life and relationships that we create for ourselves in 2022. It’s time to let go of those toxic beliefs and recognize the healing needed to move toward a better you.
The Ranch Tennessee offers mental health services and the full spectrum of addiction treatment. We work with individuals who, in addition to the four unhealthy beliefs listed above, picked up some other unhealthy habits from their families, including learning to find control through eating and restricting food, distancing themselves from problems through alcohol or other drugs or using relationships, love or sex to attempt to heal from broken relationships with caregivers. Connect with us today at 888-969-7918 to learn more about our programs!