Parents are our first teachers but unlearning the harmful lessons they themselves were taught can take a long time. Below, 22 people share their struggles of unlearning harmful lessons. Share the lessons you’ve had to overcome in the comments.
1. On Selfishness
That wanting anything is selfish.
2. That You’re On Your Own
To be a bystander, for lack of a better term. My parents are very against me standing up for others and even myself in some cases, and I had to learn that standing up for other people is the right thing to do.
Also how to pronounce cucumbers.
3. That Older Doesn’t Always Mean Wiser
That just because someone is older than me doesn’t mean they know more than me. Yes it’s true I don’t have as much experience or knowledge about things in the world but it is possible for me to know something that someone who is older than me doesn’t know. My dad always used the ‘I’m older/wiser/more experienced’ line if I said something a fact or piece of information that he didn’t agree with or think was true. It made me feel a little insecure about what I know and if what I know is right or not.
4. That Dating Leads To Marriage
That you don’t have to marry everyone you date. My mom was married 7 times and taught us that you never left anyone! No matter if they were horrible to you, took all your money and treated your kids like shit. And that you could ‘fix’ them if you married them. It took me a moving out and talking with other people that that is not normal and people break up all the time. Luckily I never married any of those guys.
5. That You Should Never Disagree Or Ask Why
They taught me to never disagree with anything. In my household, there was no such thing as ‘No’ or ‘why’.
6. That Generosity Is Foolish
That you should never do anything for others because nobody will do anything for you.
I understand because my mom came from a very rough household growing up, but it was frustrating whenever she found out I bought lunch for my friends or gave someone a ride it would always be the ‘nobody will look out for you, why do the same?’
7. That Intense Cleanliness Is A Virtue
My mom is obsessively clean. It took me a couple years into my marriage to stop cleaning to her standards. I am not a dirty person but I don’t have a fit about a little dust on the baseboards.
She should see my carpet right now. I’ve been sewing. There are scraps and threads all over. She’d twitch.
8. Quantity Over Quality
Though my family was economically stable, privileged even, my parents grew up in poverty. So their way of buying was to buy cheap. Which definitely should be taken into consideration but ultimately, if the quality is not there you end up spending more to continuously replace the item. We could afford to buy things of better quality that would last longer, but that’s just not how they grew up.
It still hurts me to spill $60 on a nice pair of shoes that will last more than a year, but I have since learned that I would much rather spend this $60 one time, rather than getting 3 pairs of $20 crappy no-brand shoes that hurt my feet and fall apart every few months.
9. That Politics Isn’t Just A Way Of Fighting
All things political. My mothers side of the family is a constant cycle of choosing the opposite side of the political spectrum to spite one’s parents, not for any actual political reasons.
10. Korean Fan Death
Korean fan death… For those who don’t know about this, Korean people believe that if you sleep with a fan on with all windows and door closed you will die. Still can’t convince my parents that this is a myth.
I do not have to say sorry for everything. I used to say ‘I’m sorry’ for everything. Reached for the same cookie? Sorry! We had different opinions and you’re frustrated? Sorry! Didn’t grab the right bag of groceries out of the truck? Sorry! I said sorry for everything, even when cashiers didn’t have nickels to give me back at change, I apologized for me causing them that inconvenience. Unlearning that is still a struggle at times.
12. That Love Can’t Be Forever When It Can
They consciously taught me that people (family aside) will never love you forever. It’s only temporary.
13. That Parents Can Be Crazy
My mother is the anti-vaxxer, Kony 2012, chemtrails type person. I believed every lie she told me and of course I told everyone at school this shit. It gained me reputation as the weird kid and nobody believed me for a long time.
14. That You Have To Love Family
That because someone is family, you should automatically love them.
15. That Being Special Is Enough
That I’m not a special snowflake. Being ‘smart’ and ‘talented’ stopped mattering around age 17 and I felt like a fraudulent fuck-up until I learned how to work and apply myself.
16. That Sex Is Gross
That all aspects of sexuality are disgusting and should make you feel guilty even thinking about it.
17. That The Worst Will Happen
To always assume the worst might happen. My parents are conservative in every way, shape, and form.
Like no mom, just because I’m out having a good time with my friends and don’t answer my phone doesn’t mean that I’m dead.
Now that 100% independent, I’m learning that sometimes risk equals reward, whereas my parents had taught my siblings and I that risk usually leads to demise.
18. That You Can’t Be Satisfied With Anything
That you can always do better. Not that that’s intrinsically bad, but when you don’t learn to stop and appreciate what you’ve accomplished, you’ll never be satisfied.
19. That Bottling It All Up Is The Way To Go
That mental health is “for pussies.” It’s okay to feel negative emotions such as anger or sadness. I wish I could have found this out earlier.
20. That Homeopathy Is A Real Thing
That homeopathy works and modern medicine is something to avoid. I hate homeopathy will all my heart now.
21. That College And Trying Hard Are Enough
They instilled in me that all I had to do was go to college and get through it and then I’d get “my job” that would pay $60k (with benefits) and then I’d work there until I retired, didn’t matter what I studied or if I networked or pursued extracurriculars. Just finish school and you get your job. When that didn’t work… “put in more applications!”
I graduated in 2008, when there was no economy, with a useless degree and no extracurriculars or internships and a GPA that was too shitty to even consider grad school. I’ve spent the last 8 years figuring out that this is now a “hustler’s economy” and you don’t make money by “applying to places and sending out your resume” unless you’re looking for a $9 an hour job at a sandwich shop.
You have to develop actual skills, be good at bullshitting, talk to people, keep your eyes and options open, be willing to expand your skill set, keep an eye on what skills are marketable, not be afraid to jump into something just because you’ve never done it before, realize that employer loyalty is a two-way street that is permanently closed and has been for years, etc. Every good job I’ve ever had has come from a lead that a friend has given me. None of them have come from shotgunning my resume to every pyramid scheme in the craigslist classifieds.
Basically I had to learn this entire skill set and mindset that was completely alien to me, and unlearn the notion that you just step off the graduation stage with your bachelor’s in English and start courting job offers from all the places that are eager to hire a guy whose main selling point is that he’s “literate… like, extra literate.”
22. That No One Will Help You When You Need It
Stranger Danger. Most victims of abuse, murder kidnapping, rape, and molestation etc. are preyed on by those closest to them. Teaching us to be afraid of anyone we don’t know actually harms our social skills and ability to reach out for help when we need it, etc. it keeps us in a fearful shell of sorts.