Am I Growing? Part 2: Unlearning

Introduction

So, I put out a video called “Am I Growing?” and I never actually answered that question. It ended up being more about developing a strong sense of self, and I never really tied it back into self growth.

I decided I would remedy this by turning this question of “am I growing?” into a series as I work to figure it out.

I’m still in the process of growing, myself and so this series is me exploring that idea. Any feedback at all is welcome!

And in the first part in this series, I never actually gave a definition of self growth, or explained what I mean by that, and so I will do that now.

By self growth, I mean to describe a process of learning and self discovery whose purpose is to increase your capacity for integrity and authenticity, especially when it concerns an increased awareness of your own inner workings. It’s your capacity for self reflection and acting on that gained wisdom.

So, that’s a complicated question to answer, but hopefully by the end of this video, we’ll have a little more of the answer.

It might take me a while to come to a fully satisfactory answer, and so I might be adding a lot more videos to this series by the time it’s all worked out.

Growing is Unlearning

There was this video I watched on YouTube a couple years ago where a guy was monitoring his progress in learning how to play Pac-man in terms of a total score. He tracked his scores across time and saw that his scores increased at a steady rate as he kept playing the game. He plotted his scores as a line graph and saw a relatively straight line going upward. But he noticed something interesting when he used smaller units of time across the X axis.

That straight line had recesses in it, so he wasn’t learning at a steady rate, but actually only learning a little until a climb in his scores at each of these periods, implying that most of his learning happens at those times specifically and that his learning is not a steady straight line upwards. He figured that he must be learning a new skill during these upward swings in scores.

Curious as to why that might be, he made the units of time across the X axis even smaller and that line which was originally straight, then had curves in it, now showed something really interesting, which was that right before that big swing upward in his scores was preceded by a small dip, where his scores were actually went lower.

What he realized was right before each of these upward swings in average scores, that dip in scores was him unlearning something else which was no longer serving him in getting good at Pac-man.

I think that this story actually applies to learning and growing in general.

In terms of becoming a more authentic, connected, conscious individual, I think that there are a lot of things we have to unlearn, and in unlearning we are freed up by the absence of that tedium or falsehood and learn other ways of being which are healthier or more advantageous.

So, what does that look like?

In therapy, I unlearned a lot. One way that I did that was by becoming increasingly aware of what my own thoughts and feelings are, my sense of self. If you are unsure what I mean by sense of self, please refer to part 1 in this series.

As I became aware of the beliefs I had about myself, I realized that a lot of them were either false, or something I could address and make better. I believed, for example, that if I told anyone about my insecurities, they would exploit that or reject me. When I talked about it with my therapist at the time, I realized that I she was not exploiting or rejecting me, so that it wasn’t strictly true that’s what people will do when you reveal your insecurities.

I was forced to think about it a lot more and in doing that, I was unlearning that strategy of hiding my insecurities. As a result of unlearning it, I tested the waters with people in my life. And almost nobody did reject me. If anything, it made those relationships stronger because they similarly felt more comfortable in revealing their own insecurities, for example.

I also had a belief that if I’m insecure that I’m not normal

The way that this ties into the sense of self video before this one is that by developing a sense of self, it becomes easier to see what my beliefs about the world actually are. And by making things explicit, the evidence or lack thereof can be more evident.

I wasn’t consciously aware that I had this belief about revealing my insecurities, I was just acting from that belief unconsciously, by avoiding it.

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