I was listening to a video on Instagram earlier today and it was from Funky Dineva and he was talking about black people having to unlearn certain behaviors to break generational curses. What is a generational curse? It is the cumulative effect on a person of things that their ancestors did, believed, or practiced in the past, and a consequence of an ancestor’s actions, beliefs, and sins being passed down. He (Funky Dineva) said that people are quick to post that they’re breaking generational curses but aren’t doing what’s necessary to unlearn those same behaviors that they are trying to break from and I can see where he’s coming from this. Also note: it’s not just black people that need to unlearn certain behaviors, it’s every person on this planet. So this is not exclusively for black or African Americans.
He touched on a lot of stuff that we need to break free from. He talked about spending habits, staying at at job you hate, staying in an unhealthy relationship, and I’m going to take it a step further and add in not getting psychological help. The main place where we learn behaviors and that can shape us to the core is at home. Thats where you spend lots of time growing up. Some people spent time at home raising their younger siblings while their parents worked or maybe had to just stay home alone while their caregivers worked. I may use the terms “parents” and “caregivers” interchangeably to acknowledge the fact that not everyone (including me) were raised by their parents.
Where do I even begin? I guess I’ll start with the money situation. Now I personally grew up in a middle class family. My grandfather was retired and my grandma still worked as a CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant). We personally never worried about (at least by the time I came along) about our household bills not getting paid or we never had to worry about whether or not we had food to eat. We always went school shopping before school started. We went on vacations. However, I should’ve paid more attention because I had zero clue as to financial literacy. I never had to worry about it because everything was taken care of but BABY when I left the house and was “on my own”, I failed BIG TIME.
I made tons of mistakes and learned some unstable spending habits. I remember going to pay day loan places when I’d have to take out like $200 and pay them back $300 when I barely made enough money to survive (which we really need to re-evaluate the way people are paid so little and the cost of living is so high). I took out a title loan and when I couldn’t pay it, my car got taken away. Lights were going off a lot (I was told to focus on the minimum and just pay that instead of just paying it as it appeared). I maxed out cards trying to pay for bills when I couldn’t pay back the credit cards. I put stuff in my name when family members couldn’t get stuff because their credit was bad. Like y’all, I made all of the mistakes and I learned them from well meaning family who was barely making it themselves.
I remember reading in a book that my aunt got for me for college students looking to learn smart money habits and I’m so glad my aunt did that. It planted the seed and got the ball rolling on me learning financial literacy. I’m still learning and I’m working on fixing the errors of my past. I stopped using pay day loans. I refused to get on Food Stamps. I started paying things that were in collections and working on my credit. That don’t mean there were times I had my utilities cut off because I couldn’t afford to pay the bill. That don’t mean there were times I didn’t have food or groceries or gas. I was still having trouble paying bills because, it was never enough money. Once I got more stable (and let’s be honest a real job), I was able to pay bills and is more on top of things financially (still working on my credit).
Point is, I found out that if I want to be more financially secure, I had to STOP looking at those around me who were living pay check to pay check and look at the examples of those were more on top of things. If that means taking a financial literacy course, reading a book or listening to podcasts on financial literacy, then do it. Look to people around you who are living the way you wish to. Look at those who worked to get their credit score to an acceptable score. We need to unlearn these poor financial decisions those around us have learned.
Speaking of unlearning financial pitfalls, we need to unlearn staying at a toxic work environment. My grandma always told me to be either a teacher or nurse because to her (and a lot of our family) believe those are secure careers. She and other people like her believe that you should get a state job and stay there for years and years (like 20+) and retire from there. Basically, have something that will just pay your bills. I remember she used to come home mad all the time, fusing about what her coworkers or supervisors did to her. They would say or do things to offend her all the time and I used to think to myself, why are you still working there? I never understood why someone would stay at a job for longevity really instead of doing something that they loved. While it is true that sometimes you need to have something secure but you also need something you enjoy.
If you have to get an entry level job and work your way up, fine. But if that company is trash, if the environment is bad fr your mental health, if it’s leaving you drained, you don’t need to be there. That don’t mean you need to quit your job with no backup plan but my point is, you shouldn’t stay at a place where you’re coming home unhappy everyday just for the sake of saying you put in 20 years at a company. Go where they celebrate you. If you’re at a job where there’s no opportunity for growth, find a job where there will be such opportunities. Take some extra courses to give you chances for better opportunities. If you have to make an investment, do so because you’re only improving and growing. Offer your services to those who can help your career.
Another thing we need to stop doing is getting in toxic relationships. If you had a single parent, there’s a chance you’ll end up as a single parent. If you witnessed a loveless marriage, chances are, you’ll probably be in one yourself. What do we see from relationships that could help break the cycle of being unhappy and unmarried? Respect. Trust. Communication. Having the same goals. Love. Honor. Therapy. If you’ve been around unhealthy relationships because “it’s cheaper to keep her” or just because you don’t want to be alone, go to therapy.
Get some self-worth and try not be bring any kids into unhealthy situations. I mean no offense but look at Khloe Kardashian, she was (and maybe still) willing to overlook Tristan’s piss poor behavior when it came to her and their relationship all for the sake of her kids having the same father. Or when I look at the daytime tv show Maury and there are women there for paternity tests with men that I’m sure deep down that they knew they should not have messed with those men. It’s sad and we need to stop that. If a man has kids already that he is NOT taking care of, dump him because thats not a man. Again, go where you’re celebrated and not tolerated.
Therapy! Therapy! Therapy! Y’all we all need counseling even if you think you don’t need it. We carry so much emotional baggage and it’s detrimental to our mental health. Some think that if you go to counseling you’re crazy. Like is it crazy to go to the doctor if you broke a bone or maybe have the flu? Obviously not, so why is it crazy to go to therapy or counseling? If we really want change in our life we have to be willing to unlearn certain behaviors and one way to do that is go to therapy. We can get the tools to deal with life’s ups and downs. We learn how to deal with things like how to communicate our needs with others or how putting ourselves first is not a selfish thing but it’s all about our self care and self-love. We can learn about what’s healthy and what’s not in romantic relationships.
There’s so much that counseling helps with that doesn’t have to do with mental illness. Now if what we learn about ourselves does happen to uncover an underlying mental illness, then again, it can be dealt with in therapy. Therapy does not make you a weak person. In fact, it makes you stronger. If you haven’t tried it, go to a counseling session with an open mind. Take in what they tell you and actively apply it to your life. It takes so much work to unlearn behaviors and let me tell you, it’s not going to be easy. You will have ups and downs. You’ll have to cut ties with people or minimize the amount of time you spend around certain folks.
I can go on and on but I will end this post here. Below, I’ll leave a few resources to help you get started on breaking the cycle:
- Patrice Washington website, books, and YouTube
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert T. Klyosaki book
- Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany “the Budgetnista” Aliche book
- Anti-Racism and BIPOC Support list
- My own book When the Wallflower Blooms: How to Break Out & Step Into Who You’re Meant to Be
What habit or belief did you have to unlearn? How did you do it?
Speaking of cutting ties with certain people: you need to unlearn any racist behavior or thoughts you may have. Racism is still alive and well. If you find yourself uncovering some truths on some racist behavior from you or your family, change it. Expose yourself to other people. If you only surround yourself with one race, you really need to widen out and diversify. If someone tell you that what you said or did bothered them, don’t get mad. Actually evaluate it and express your remorse. It’s a daily practice to unlearn some beliefs that don’t serve you.This goes for every race out there. And by the way, ethnicity and race are two different things. Race is the color of the skin. Ethnicity os the country or culture you are apart of. For example, you can be black and be Cuban or Puerto Rican.
Take that step. Unlearn those harmful behaviors. Break the cycle. Break those generational curses. You may get push back from some well-meaning people and that’s okay. They may be under the impression that you think you’re better than them. Keep pushing forward. Your future depends on it.