An old dog can always learn new tricks. Anyone who tells you differently has not experienced life enough or is in denial. As we grow older, we become more aware of our circumstances and those that take place around us.
From a young age, we are taught that learning is the great equalizer. If you want to know anything in life, learn it. That's the sentiment echoed throughout our lives, especially as children. If I wish to become a writer, I must learn to write proficiently. If wisdom is what I seek, I must study philosophy, ethics, and moral reasoning. If I'd like to become more self-aware, I must learn about meditation.
The process by which we gain knowledge is learning. There are different types of learners. If you're like me, hands-on learning best suits your ability to retain information. Yet, we must question whether everything we learn is useful, or just plain wrong.
Knowledge is power
Knowledge is only power if you use it for the greater good, correct? Otherwise, what is the point of understanding an endless amount of information, if it's to serve no other purpose than self-fulfilling desires? More specific is the learning we do at the hands of corrupt minds.
Is there such a thing as wrong learning?
Well, sure. There are many learned traits, some good and some bad, that we get from others. Whether from parents, friends, or idols, mislearning happens. A learned trait can be a good thing, but only if it's done for the right reasons. For example, a learned trait from an idol who's a star athlete could be hard work and dedication. This type of learned trait is character building because it can help to instill these qualities into the fabric of the person you are. But as with most things in life, it can be done for the wrong reasons, too.
If you grew up with abusive parents, studies show there is a high likelihood that you could be abusive towards your kids as well. Not necessarily due to the complete fault of your own, as studies also show the type of mental trauma that occurs in the brain from abuse. Yet, it's still your responsibility as a human, let alone a parent, to alter the path set before you. If someone sets the table for you on the right side, but you're left-handed, are you going to change it? Of course, because if you didn't, you'd be reaching across the table for the entirety of the meal, putting you at an ultimate inconvenience.
In the same way, we must be courageous in our pursuit to unlearn harmful traits and incorrect knowledge. No matter who it's from, toxicity is toxicity. If your parents are racist, sexist, or abusive, you're entitled, as a decent human, to do your absolute best to help them see otherwise. But first and foremost, it's your responsibility to make sure you're not next in line of the generational cycle.
Generational curses are more of a cycle than they are a curse. Just because your parents had a certain mindset about something or an opinion about a topic doesn't mean you have to. Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be the person I am today without the solid, foundational wisdom my parents instilled in me. However, my parents and I don't agree on everything, and that's okay. Because that's how you grow, become yourself, and create your identity.
You can't grow by being coddled every second of your life. Part of growth happens by going through uncomfortable experiences and being forced to deal with issues with or without the help of anyone else. If my parents and I never disagreed, we'd be perfect, and we're far from that.
"You must stand by that which you stand for."
If I did everything someone else wanted me to do, would I genuinely be myself? Would I be my own person? The answer is no. If I knowingly did something wrong, just because someone wanted me to do it, I'd be going against the very grain of my values. You've likely heard the saying, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. It's powerful because I must always stay true to myself.
If I can't stay true to myself, I can't stay true to anyone else. If I have to be the one to speak up against toxic characteristics taught to me as a child, I will. I am responsible for stopping the cycle or at least lessening the impact of it. I am responsible for unlearning negative traits that I've learned. Because anything learned can be unlearned. Ultimately, I am responsible for my growth and the person I become, and no one can change that or take it away from me.