Today I’ve met this idea that we whatever we learn, we can unlearn so I’ve started to wonder how would this be possible and what would we want to unlearn? I always thought that we should keep learning things to move forward and to get better each day so why would we want to unlearn things? Well, the short answer is that we’ve might bad ideas and habits that were reinforced in time. These things can hurt us so I think it would be better to get rid of them especially when those things are not reflecting the reality.
For example, we may have learned that we’re not good enough. If we get depressed because of this idea, it is bad for us and we might need to unlearn it. If because of this idea we strive to constantly improve, it might be a good idea we need to keep.
So how are we going to unlearn something? We either try limiting the interaction with whatever we want to unlearn or we can replace that with something better for us. Let’s say you want to quit smoking but you think you can’t (but you really want to quit). It’s obvious that the sudden stopping won’t help that much because the body will have withdrawal symptoms and it will make things worse. One of the best ways can be to smoke one less cigarette per week. So if you smoke 20 cigarettes per day, try smoking 19 per day this week. Next week try going down to 18 cigarettes per day and so on. If things get tough add some nicotine patches, but keep the descending trend.
Similar strategies can be applied when we try to get rid of some thoughts that hurt us. We cannot stop thinking those things because the automatic thoughts appear without our control, but we can counter them. For example, the thought I’m useless whenever we f*ck something up, can be modified to I f*cked up this thing, but I’ve learned something important from this situation so I’ll get better in time. I’m just a human. Anyone could scr*w this up. Practicing this every time the wild thought appears can help with lowering the amount of time this thought appears.
We can unlearn anything by limiting the interaction with those things we want to unlearn and replacing them with things that are better for us. What would you like to unlearn and why?