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By David Morgan, inspired by All One

(Rough Draft - Last changed 5 days ago.)

Most skills in life are learned

This includes relationships

So many things in life are learned. Now this may seem obvious to some, while others simply may not have thought about this.

How do we speak a language (or multiple languages)? We learn it. How do we write in languages, or understand and use math? How is it we can drive a car, or ice skate? We learn it.

So I invite you to consider this:

Isn't true that the skills necessary to having successful relationships must be learned?

One of the best gifts realized by some people when they go to school is that they are taught the value of learning. Another gift may be that they enjoy learning. In fact, there are those who say that the most successful people (in all aspects of their lives) are people who choose to learn throughout their entire lives. Besides learning from their mistakes, they were also taught that if they don't know the answer to something, they should learn more about it.

Now most people would agree that it takes someone thousands upon thousands of hours of learning in order to become a doctor. And people understand how many hours it takes to learn for example, a language. Humans in America and many other countries spend around 15 years of education or more before they go out "into the real world" (unless they go on to college). What was the primary function of those years? It was to learn. And what do they learn? Public's schools primary focus is reading, writing and math. Of course, when and if the time and budgets permit, many schools and educators do try to add or incorporate some life skills to their curriculums.

Now reading, writing and math are examples of skills that clearly take time to learn, and they were obvious examples. And as you were learning, how would you know if you had teachers that were teaching you the wrong information or not? Easy, you wouldn't pass the test. In a simple example, if you were not taught how to read properly, you wouldn't be able to read a book. In another example, in a math class, if you did not learn how to solve the math problems because the teacher gave you the wrong formulas, you would get the answers wrong in the practice test sections of the book.

Some of the most important life skills are not (or scarcely) taught (in public schools)

But let me give you some equally or even more important examples of skills that you may not have thought about much:

I find it surprising that in our society most people openly accept the fact that you would have to work hard to learn to be a good doctor, lawyer, or any other skilled job, but those same people may not accept the truth that unless you were brought up in a loving, nurturing family that also taught you relationship skills such as kindness, generosity, respect, empathy, happiness, gratitude, and love; as adult, you will have to do the work to learn these skills.

How do we know how to best raise a child? Or how do we know how to have a deep (intimate) loving relationship with those we love? Or how do we know how to have long lasting intimate friendships where we feel comfortable enough to talk about personal situations? Or how do we know the value of being considerate or honest to others? Or how do we know the value of treating people fairly, and lovingly? Or how do we know how to express feelings in a healthy way to resolve conflict? Or how do we know about feelings? Or how do we learn to be loving or happy? All of these skills must be learned.

Have you ever heard of a public school class or a government funded show or publication called: "How to have (or teach) loving relationships"? As a friend at my YMCA said to me, "public schools even teach history, but nothing on loving relationships or even dealing with finances."

The answer is since we were not taught in school; we have four primary ways that we might have potentially learned about these incredibly important life skills:

1) Our parents could teach us.
2) We could learn from "role models."
3) We could learn by "trial by fire" or "trial and error."
4) We could learn on our own through other sources.

Did your parents teach you, and did they teach you correct information?

So if your parents spent time telling or teaching you how to have relationships, unless they had you read or included references from acclaimed writers and psychiatrists, how would you know they were not teaching you the wrong information?

In the book "The Question Behind the Question" by John G. Miller, John talks about people who ask the wrong questions. He calls them "lousy questions". He says "They're negative and they don't solve any problems." John calls them "Incorrect Questions", since nothing positive or productive comes from asking them."

So along a similar path, what if you were taught want could be called "Incorrect Lessons" by your parents or others? These "Incorrect Lessons" could be, for example, being abusive, controlling, or insensitive to others in relationships. But for some people, who were brought up with "Incorrect Lessons", they may not even realize it. How could that be? Well there is a saying that I recently read that I think applies here as well as in many other aspects of people's lives. "We don't know what we don't know." So without taking a "relationship test", some people may never realize something IS wrong, and may consider it "normal." In a book containing the 13 Characteristics of people who grow up in dysfunctional families, characteristic 1 is that we "guess at what normal behavior is."

So why would any parent teach you "Incorrect Lessons" (maybe not directly but maybe through role modeling)? There is a good probability it is because they learned it from their parents or their role models! So what if you are taught "Incorrect Lessons" by your parents? Well as Roger (another friend who goes to the Y) said to me "it's like a double-whammy." So in order to have healthy relationships, as an adult you must first "unlearn" any "Incorrect Lessons" that may be almost automatic behaviors (which can be done), before you can learn to choose healthy behaviors in your life. If you don't you will likely repeat the unhealthy lessons you were taught.

In fact, some people would say it's astounding the percentage of people that do repeat the very things they did not like about their parents. In the New York Times Bestseller "Getting the Love You Want", by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. he talks about how we repeat the "Incorrect Lessons" that we learned growing up, guess where? Harville says it shows up in our future relationships. He says "You become one parent, and marry the other." What he means is that many children start taking on (from what they learned) some of the good as well as some of the not so good traits (Incorrect Lessons) of their parents. Scientific research shows that we learn from role models through processes such as mirror neurons, and maybe a lot of that role model learning happens while we are not even aware of it!

There are many books that discuss the damage of "Incorrect Lessons" and how correct them for healthy relationships. Just a couple examples include "It Will Never Happen To Me" by Claudia Black, PhD, MSW; New York Times Bestseller "Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D.; and "Codependency No More" a New York Times Bestseller by Melody Beattie. There are also professionals, 12 Step programs, and internet resources that can help.

Now if this is true in your past, how do you turn this into something positive? Well, there are lots of great sayings on this subject like "Let your past make you better, not bitter." Or as Carl Bard said: "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." There are many famous people who have taken a negative past and used it to motivate them to create an amazing future. I believe most people can, even though they may currently believe that they can't.

I read something not too long ago that surprised me at first, but can be very true and that is that "some of the worst things in life can be your best gifts."

Did you learn from "role models"?

If your parents didn't teach you healthy lessons, then unless you went and studied books on it, your knowledge of how to have "loving relationships" might boil down to what you learn from other "role models".

Did you learn by "trial by fire" or "trial and error"?

If you really didn't learn by reading books or taking classes like you did for reading, writing and arithmetic, then did you learn by "trial and error"? How many failed relationships have occurred (or never started) because you were not taught "how" in the first place? When there is a wealth of healthy materials out there, why would you waste time "shooting darts"? Just like anyone who studies to become a doctor, take the time to learn from accepted resources.

Did you (and will you) learn on our own?

How did you know if you were (or are) learning correct or wrong information about how to have a loving relationship? Does what you know agree with what acclaimed writers and psychiatrists teach? Does it agree with books like "The Road Less Traveled" by Dr. M. Scott Peck, the Bible, or any of the volumes of great information on relationships? One litmus test may be to ask yourself how many friends, loved ones, and loves in your life do you currently have where you can share your feelings and intimate thoughts in an honest open loving manner?

So consider thinking for a minute or more and do some quick math:

-Add up how many hours your parents sat down with you and had healthy educational discussions about how to have loving relationships. By healthy, I mean the teachings would agree with the writings from professionals.

-Add onto those hours you spent learning healthy lessons from others. This could include teachings from church, religious schools, workshops, therapists, or other expert people where the focus of the topic was about relationships including "loving relationships."

-Add onto those hours the time you spent reading expert books focusing on love and relationships. Again, there are almost an infinite number of books written by experts including as an example "The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller for 8 years running and at the last time I looked had over 12.5 thousand 5 star reviews in Amazon!

Does the number come anywhere close to the hours needed to become a doctor? Or even how long it took you to learn math? If the answer is no, then consider spending more time to research and learn about topics like relationships. One way to research is to look it up, take classes on the subject, and/or talk to healthy people educated in the topic.

School clearly taught us the lesson that if you don't look it up, or learn it correctly; you will not have the correct answer on a test. And if you don't look it up or research or think honestly and logically about the problem enough to get the best answer, chances are you give the wrong answer. And it was clear that if you get enough answers wrong you will fail the test, and you may even fail the class. If that's true for school, wouldn't it also hold true that educating yourself on how to have a more successful emotional life would result in a more successful emotional life?

If you stop to think about it for a minute, what is more important to you? Is it a successful career or is it your feelings in your relationships and life?

So let's just say you answered the previous question "they are both equally important". Ok, then have you spent equal time learning about both your job and relationships? Do you generally believe that you get out of something proportional to what you put into it? Do you believe in the quote that "there is no such thing as a free lunch?"

Equally Important:

Equally important, since we forget knowledge over time, and since other situations (such as money or jobs) in our daily busy lives may tend to "drown out" the good lessons we may have learned, think about this:

How many hours in the last year, week, or day have you spent refreshing or expanding upon what you may have learned about healthy relationships?

Just like exercise, if we stop, our muscles turn to mush. You just can't go to the YMCA or gym once in your life, and say you never need to exercise again. So we must exercise regularly. Humans forget, and other less important things may overshadow loving thoughts. We must continuously be refreshing the healthy lessons throughout our lives. Consider using your current level of happiness, maybe how well you sleep at night, the count and depth of your relationships as potential "meters" for how much time you should spend refreshing your relationship knowledge. Maybe check the 13 Characteristics list to measure your progress. For example, I would see my grandmother read the Bible at night, and of all the people I personally knew "growing up", she best lived a life of giving and teaching love. Her routine kept her spirit strong.

With that in mind, consider spending time learning and practicing possibly the most important skills in your life, and enjoy the benefits such as greater happiness that you and those around you will benefit from. Skills learned on how to have loving relationships, when applied in your daily life, will mean a more loving happy life for you and those you love! I'm very lucky, I love my life, and the more I learn, the better I feel.

Thank you for reading this!

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This page updated 04/20/18 07:36 AM