April 25

Why We Often Hate Being Taught

April 25, 2016

Personal Growth

I had been working with a woman for a couple of days about how to integrate the principles of Real Love into her personal life and into her relationships, when she said, “I feel like I just don’t know anything.”

“Oh,” I said, “you don’t have to know anything. I’ll be there to teach you as you go.”

For a fraction of a second, she winced, so I asked her what I’d said that had bothered her. She wasn’t sure, but I knew the answer already.

Many people have a somewhat negative reaction to the word teaching. When we hear that word, often we hear—or, more often, feel—the following:

  • Condescension. We’ve all had the experience of feeling frustration at not being able to do something we’ve been assigned to do, and then someone says—with a tone of superiority—“Well, I guess I can teach you.” Then they instruct us with a condescension that makes us wish they hadn’t volunteered in the first place. Certainly not all teaching was done in this way, but those occasions are memorable. Nobody likes being treated like an inferior.
  • Failure. Each time we’re taught something, we are exposed to the opportunity to succeed in learning—and to expand our abilities—but also to the chance that we might fail. As Vin Scully said, “Losing feels worse than winning feels good,” so sometimes we vigorously avoid being taught because of the attendant opportunities to fail.
  • Stupid. When we have to be taught something, the presumption is that we didn’t know how to do it in the first place. That may not be a problem, but depending on the attitude of the teacher or others around us, we might get a sense that we were stupid if we had to be taught something that we “should” have known. We don’t like being thought of as stupid.

With these connotations being even a remote possibility, it’s little wonder that we sometimes resist being taught. And yet teaching is essential to our growth and happiness. There are so many concepts and feelings we cannot learn by ourselves, which requires that we have a teacher. What we need are more teachers who unconditionally accept us as they guide us. We need to be lovedandtaught.

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