For me to grow into the person I wanted to become I sought out information; information that was going to help me, guide me and teach me things I didn’t know and wasn’t taught growing up. It wasn’t enough for me to simply move through the years with certain knowledge, skills, or understanding I didn’t have in a lot of areas in my life.
Very often when I know or hear of someone who’s repeatedly doing the wrong thing, or not doing the one thing that could break the cycle or improve their lives, I hear “They don’t know any other way”.
But for me that’s just not true. There were many things I never learned growing up; one of them was social cues and social etiquette. I didn’t know how to speak to people, how to listen to the other people. I didn’t know how to start a conversation with a complete stranger. Not knowing this, made social situations awkward. It made it difficult for me to interact with my peers and work colleagues. So I began seeking out the information I needed to know to improve my social skills. I would visit libraries, borrow books, buy books and speak to people I felt safe and comfortable with. It just wasn’t a viable or rational option for me not to do something about it.
One of the other major areas of my life that I didn’t know enough about was how to deal with my emotions. I knew I didn’t want to lash out at people, though I often did because I had no other strategies. I didn’t know what else to do. But I didn’t like that. I wanted to learn a better way to process my feelings and how to manage my emotions. I wanted to discover what other people did when they were angry, upset, anxious, depressed. In order for me to change, grow and understand, I had to seek this information out. It simply wasn’t ok for me to sit back and accept that I didn’t know.
The danger in not doing anything about what you don’t know, is that you only do what is habitual to you, or what’s modeled to you. If these behaviours are dangerous or not healthy, then you feed the cycle, you feed the habit and it becomes increasingly difficult (particularly as you get older) to change your ways. You continue the patterns and never do anything about it, believing that this must be who you are. This is simply not true. What you haven’t learned, is not necessarily your fault, but you can definitely seek out ways to learn new skills or behavours. That choice is always available to you and it’s free.
The great news is that we now have a world of opportunity at our feet, with online workshops, online articles, e-books, skype etc. If changing a behaviour or learning a new behaviour is frightening or uncomfortable, then you can virtually do this without any outside help. However I would suggest reaching out to people. Often your ‘safe’ people or people in charity organisations, churches or counselling roles can add an enormous benefit & support to learning a new behaviour or skill set They can offer their experiences, knowledge, strategies, or recommend other avenues for you. But they also provide external support (I love mentors, but I’ll do a blog on that soon), which is crucial when stepping out of your comfort zone.
The point is, is that if you don’t know something you want to know, you have every opportunity to seek it out. There is always someone willing to help and there is always information (alot of it is FREE) that is widely available to you.
Here’s some of the ways I sought out new information
- Ask someone you trust for advice, for strategies, or get them to talk about their experiences in that area
- Read articles/books on the subject. When I wanted to learn about social skills I read every book I could find on the subject. Get books that are easy for you to understand and offer easy to follow strategies.
- Watch and observe other people. For my social skills I would watch how people interacted and noted any cues I could use
- Find ways to practice your new set of skills. Anything new feels uncomfortable and awkward, but like anything the more it’s is used, the more automatic is becomes
- Keep a journal of your wins and strategies of what worked, what didn’t work and what you could do next time