Learning to Unlearn

The change around us is so rapid that what we learn today might be obsolete tomorrow. There is a Buddhist proverb that goes, “Learning to unlearn is the highest form of learning”. Historically, we have remained passive to accept the inevitability of change. Since learning is a continuous process that happens every day in human beings, it is important to preclude some of the previous knowledge you had. Practice won’t make you perfect if you do it the wrong way. Alvin Toffler had asserted that “The illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

If you can make a concerted effort to unlearn, your life will probably undergo a dramatic and welcome change. My go-to feelings were panic, self-pity, and deprecating thoughts about myself. If I did not achieve something, I attributed my failure to luck and was convinced that everything other people got was a miracle. Now, the newfound ability to unlearn these feelings and replace them with positive feelings has made a notable difference. Following are a few pointers, that I have pondered upon, whilst navigating the changes around me.

  1. Pursue the Unfamiliar — In order to grasp new ideas and let them take hold, you need to pursue the things that are unfamiliar and get to know whether you like them. Be comfortable with mystery.
  2. Modify, don’t uproot — One way to begin unlearning is to seek additional knowledge in familiar areas and then use that new knowledge to start replacing and modifying old knowledge.
  3. Fact check — In an era of unlimited resources, it is crucial to keep yourself abreast of new happenings. This will not only help you discover new areas help you get into several conversations.
  4. Let go of, ‘I’m irreparably broken by my past’— Painful events leave scars, but they eventually fade. They are erasable. Stop thinking so much, it is alright not to know a few answers. One of my favorite articles — https://www.oprah.com/spirit/martha-beck-yes-it-was-awfulnow-please-shut-up?cnn=yes
  5. Allow yourself to feel. Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, “I must stay happy!” Stressful, isn’t it? When you replace it with, “It’s okay to be as sad as I need to be because I know THIS WILL EVENTUALLY PASS.” This kind of permission to feel as we feel is the foundation of well-being.
  6. Try not to take everything personally. While constructive criticism is critical, most anguish stems from one’s hypothesis that other people have a certain image of you.

Life is endless. Opportunities are limitless. Losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. Questioning habitual thoughts, help pave the way to eventually breaking them. Unlearning is more important as it will give you a whole new perspective on the existing beliefs you have. As the saying goes, ‘The map is not the territory’.

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