Especially in today’s technological world where we have access to more knowledge than ever with just a click of our smartphone or tablet, we don’t realize that a lot of this information, as well as all the data gathered and absorbed over the years, may not be serving us all that well. In fact, it may be preventing us from learning “what we need to know”. So the question becomes: “how to unlearn what you didn’t need to know in the first place?”
Having gathered so much useless knowledge does inhibit our ability to know “how to think” and solve problems effectively. We have spent so much time learning “what to think”, that we have forgotten how to accurately assess this information in a way that contributes to our overall objectives. Actually, we have crippled our thinking ability.
Never Stop Asking Questions
Our educational systems has trained teachers to present knowledge to students, and then test them on their rote memory skills primarily through multiple choice tests. These grades then determine a student’s future prospects at least some degree, but are these students prepared for thriving in a world which is built on innovation and change?
All of this previous knowledge inhibits our decision-making because having all this information does not guarantee we understand it so that we can effectively apply it to get Results. The only real security in our lives is our ability to create and get the results we seek. This is true empowerment. When we have disabled this function, we are then left with looking for security outside of ourselves.
When presented with information, we should never stop asking questions. As I have mentioned in previous articles, “why” is a wonderful term to use to get to the bottom of any area of uncertainty. By continually asking “why”, we will eventually get to the ore issues of our inquiry, and thereby discover “what we need to know”.
Stuff We Don’t Need to Know
There is much knowledge and information which we have picked up which we simply don’t need to know. This includes a lot of past conditioning by schools, parents, religious organizations, friends, family, and the government. When properly analyzed, much of this data is either overstated, false, or just doesn’t make any sense.
It is a matter of bringing this stuff up to the surface, logically analyzing it, and keeping what works and letting go of the rest. Yes, it does take work and is time consuming, but it is very much worthwhile. It is a freeing experience which you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.
I remember a story of a business person who was visiting a third world country, and he was walking through a village with a business person from that area, and the foreigner commented on how unfortunate it was that a young child was caught up in poverty and lack of proper education. The business person from that particular country interrupted the foreigner, and said to him that the child has far fewer roadblocks to learning than himself and the foreigner.
Obviously the foreign business person was taken aback by this, since he was a high level executive with an Ivy League education. But the point that the local business person was making was the fact that the child had less useless information within his mind to inhibit his ability to think and create, than the foreigner with all his knowledge and ability which contained much useless data which actually prevented him from learning more.
I don’t remember if the foreigner actually got the point or not, as this was a story I heard many years ago. But it clearly points out the importance of making some room in our minds, so that we are able to then learn what we need to learn, to do what we need to do, without any unnecessary interference from old baggage of useless and false data. Yes, we do carry around a lot of rehashed data and information which confuses us, and tricks us into thinking we know what we really do not know and understand. We are operating on “Borrowed Data”.
Cleaning Up the Mess
When we spend the time to effectively clean out the false data in the closet of our minds, we are able to free up a lot of space for knowledge which will serve us best. We also then are able to more easily source our needed information and knowledge from within.
Our intuitive abilities will kick in, and we will receive new information which is not tainted by memories which may not be true. At this point we learn how valuable it is for us to source our information from within, and to question all information from without. We are learning to think for ourselves, and we have separated ourselves from the herd who have been brainwashed by standard educational sources to rely on outside knowledge.
By no means is this an easy project. Many years have gone into conditioning ourselves to outside influences, and these habits of the mind run deep. We will experience much resistance as we break away to freedom. But that is okay. It’s part of the game which we signed up for when we showed up on the scene.
The main thing to remember, as I have mentioned many times before in previous articles, is that Presence and Observation will lead us out of any limiting experiences, and clean up the mess within our minds. When we become the Observer of our thoughts and experiences, we are the Captain of our Ship. We are now able to steer our ship in any desired direction without the hindrance of inaccurate maps, and this allows us to navigate effectively. Any storms we encounter along the way will be met with a clear mind with which to consider our options.
A Whole New Viewpoint
Once this mess is cleaned up, we will have developed a whole new viewpoint of life. We will know how we have put all our previous ideas and beliefs in place, which then directed our decisions and actions. The cloud cover will have dissipated so that we now see things from a much larger viewpoint.
This new viewpoint is something which we will want to duplicate, so that we can effectively steer our ship to our desired locations. This allows us to more easily accomplish our goals.
By “unlearning” many unconscious beliefs and assumptions we have freed ourselves to expand, progress and experience more of our potential. The chains have fallen off of ourselves.
This whole new viewpoint is beginning to penetrate all areas of life. We are beginning to see changes in our educational systems where teachers and administrators are seeing the importance and value in unlearning old systems based on assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors which no longer work, and maybe never did. These groups, individuals, and organizations have been discovering new ways of working together by releasing old habits and beliefs and supporting change in many areas.
Embracing the Challenge of Unlearning
Since we have been bombarded from all directions since we entered this plane of existence so many years ago, there will be a few challenges to letting this stuff goal. Especially the stuff which has seeped into our belief systems to such an extent that it seems so real that it just has to be true.
Changing our mindset, and ultimately our viewpoint, will alter how we see ourselves and the world. This can be a scary proposition at least to some extent. Resistance emerges when we want to hold on to outdated beliefs, assumptions, and traditions which may have served us well in the past by helping us to get by and survive on a day-to-day basis.
Just like Linus and his blanket in the cartoon Charlie Brown, we are not eager to give up our security items. We get reminded and re-triggered all the time from stuff in our environment, which then kicks in our old ways of thinking and doing things. This results in a good amount of stress and resistance to change. There are many ways we can use to block ourselves from unlearning and changing habits.
We best accept and embrace the challenge of unlearning, when we recognize the benefits of developing a flexible mindset, which empowers us to meet the issues we encounter in our every changing world head on, and develop the needed solutions. Developing this type of adaptive mindset allows us to be effective in all areas of our lives.
Students benefit most from developing this type of flexibility in thinking at an early age, which not only makes the transition into the workplace easier, but teaches them that there is more than one way to generate answers, and mistakes are welcome as part of the process of problem solving. This will serve them well their entire lives as a creative problem solver.
A Few Final Thoughts
Being able to unlearn what we didn’t need to know is a valuable skill that is not only being used by individuals, but is currently being embraced by education and industry. For example, the Learning Innovations Laboratory at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education is studying the advantages of unlearning in the private sector as well as in schools.
When we unlearn the stuff which is not serving us and our goals, we are then better able to move forward as a creative thinker and discover new ways to solve problems both at work and in our personal lives. Solutions appear more effortlessly as a result.
Many companies and organizations now realize that new processes and ideas will not be successful without first providing ways to unlearn what is not working. This involves unlearning habits that are most likely deeply embedded within those organizations.
When we truly realize and understand how our previous experiences and old habits of thought affect our choices and subsequent actions, we are then inspired to do what is necessary to make any changes. When we truly see the benefit involved, we will then be willing to embrace the discomfort of change.
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May you enjoy the Process of Unlearning,