In the last 10 years that I have been in recovery from addiction, a certain principle has been immensely important to my success. That principle is remaining TEACHABLE.
My History with Being Teachable.
This guys history with being teachable before recovery is a horribly checkered one.
I don’t remember much of being really young. But as far as I can look back on life I could see that my mind was generally closed to what people had to teach.
In school I was a destructive class clown. At home I was kind of an entitled little brat. Though now I do understand that I was doing the best I could with what I had. Though for some reason my brain was naturally obstinate, refusing most information that people need to get by in a law abiding world.
This type of attitude toward letting people teach me only intensified. Though when I find out mind altering chemicals would help me escape the jabbering of every ones teachings I fell in love. Finally I didn’t seem to have to care. Also many people that would have tried to teach me pretty much gave up trying as well. Heaven right?
What seemed to me like heaven was actually unknowingly signing me up for a rough damn ride through life.
By the time I was able to enter recovery and get my act together, I had made an incredible mess of my existence. Being closed off to the world teaching me how to live life only gained me increasing amounts of suffering.
Why Be Teachable?
This is something you must answer for yourself. For me I allow myself to be teachable because I have made the decision to never cause myself the suffering I once felt. Who in their right minds desires suffering?
That is also the point! When we excessively close ourselves off from the healthy thoughts of others, suffering generally increases.
I believe that is because there is something within all of us that strives to expand, grow and create. But we cannot use solely our own information to grow in the ways that are desired. We need the successes and the support of the thoughts and emotions of others to get where our bodies instinctualy desire to go.
I also need other people’s info because they see things I may not be seeing. And paraphrasing Buddha here, “suffering comes from being unaware of the causes of suffering.” Without other people’s info I’m susceptible to walking into the causes of suffering ill-prepared and ready to get beat on.
The only way to get the quality of life that I most deeply desire is to allow other people to teach me how to get it. That means showing me where to go as well as where not to go.
Being Teachable can go too Far.
To be teachable doesn’t mean that we are just be blown around by other people’s information. It doesn’t mean that we blindly accept ideas and run with them. But it does mean that if I feel the truth of some information, even if it goes against my beliefs, that I take it seriously.
Being teachable does require that we be open to have our minds changed. But not to the extent that we are left with a whole mess of ideas that we feel we are “supposed” to believe, instead of ones we feel to be true. Every human being needs to have a belief system to help the world make sense. So my motto is question everything, but not so often as to have the world make no sense at all.
Of course it doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be taken advantage either. I generally believe that the vast majority of individuals in this world are good. But there are those who seek to take advantage of those that are not well-versed in certain areas of expertise.
So remain teachable but don’t allow yourself be taken advantage. Also don’t view every person that offers information, as someone that is attempting to manipulate. It is all about balance.
How to become more Teachable.
To be teachable means to be opened up to the information around us. It requires momentarily dropping our judgments about what is being taught, opening our minds and listening.
Being teachable means being active in human relationship. Whether the information comes from conversations with people we chat with, a book someone wrote or a YouTube video we watch. For me, the day just didn’t feel right if I didn’t pick up some valuable new information from whatever source it comes from.
Here is how I keep Myself more healthily teachable:
- Make sure I am in a healthy emotional place.
- Seek reputable sources to be taught from.
- Remind myself that I am seeking to be taught before I will be presented with new information.
- Drop my judgments about new information until after all the info has been presented.
- Limit distractions like trying to multi task with a cell phone or other things that keep our minds busy.
- Make eye contact and actually listen.
A Life Opened up and Healed by Being Teachable.
In the beginning of the article I described my life of being teachable. I did not know how to be taught by healthy sources and that led me down a dark path. My mental, emotional and physical Health were in shambles.
Since coming to recovery I have learned a great deal about this skill, and my life has opened up greatly as a result. All areas of my being have been healed in ways I never thought possible.
I know how to find the healthy people and have developed a keen sense for when someone is selling me info that is garbage.
The suffering I experience today pales in comparison to what it once was. And you best believe the feelings of success and joy I experience today were something that couldn’t be fathomed 10 years ago.
Struggling with Being Teachable?
If you are struggling with being healthy teachable I am happy that you found this article.
My first tip would be to find some healthy people that you can trust. Whether that needs to be a Mental Health Professional, your grandmother, or just a trusted friend. Actually the ideal would be talking to several people you trust!
Get all of their information and what they would advise.Then do what they say as long as the advise given would not harm you or others.
It is quite painful to be living in a world that is shutdown from the helpful thoughts of other people. A world in which we think we know it all and therefore don’t need others is tremendously stressful.
So give yourself a break and allow someone to teach you something new today. It is most certainly for the better!
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Much Love, Travis Hagen