Revitalize Yourself by Unlearning

By | April 15, 2013

yoda unlearn what you learn“No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.” — Yoda

What we learned before

We spend our whole lives soaking up information and trying to learn everything we think will make us happier, wealthier, and more successful. Additionally, we learn how to avoid or eliminate things from our life that we think hurts us. The accumulation of the things that we learn, by attrition, conditioning, biased or unbiased education, assumption, or from experience becomes our manual for life, and using this manual, we move, act, re-act, think and behave.

Finding Home - Stress Byron Katie QuotePeople experience tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in their life because the results of their life is not living up to their expectations of what they have learned in the past. Here is a simple example – We learned throughout childhood that the early bird gets the worm, so we develop some very admirable qualities of being the first in class, or to the meeting and so on and we expect that this get noticed, because after all, it is an admirable quality. But we also learned from a couple of painful experiences that sharing ideas in a group may cause humiliation when you are not listened too or dismissed. You learned this quite well during 5th grade as your teacher consistently ignored questions and answers to questions if they were not correct. You parents taught this too, when at the dinner table, you were reprimanded repeatedly for interrupting while grown up’s were talking.

So, when you do not get recognized and promoted in your job after several years, even though you have fastidious and punctual habits, you learn some new lessons; that life is not fair and you have to cheat to get ahead because certainly that is what Mary, the most vocal in the group has done to get the promotion in your department.

what I know vs what I feelThis example can be re-framed in an infinite number of ways, but the point is that we learn conflicting or non-complementary information during the course of our lives and these conflicting thoughts create conflict in our lives. The technical word for this human behavior is called cognitive dissonance and it is extremely common for all of us to have conflicting beliefs about ourselves and those around us, thereby causing us a great deal of suffering.

The first step to unravel and create new options and possibilities in our lives is to unlearn the lessons that are not serving us. The first one being that we might be lacking in some way or that we need to be fixed in order to be happy and content. In our example above, I would contend that neither one of our example person’s beliefs are helpful to this person’s job performance or his/her self-esteem. I would add further (for this example), to consider if the notion that “value” of self means getting noticed at work or at school, and I would also add that the beliefs in this example are not even true.

If you honestly look at the many things you think about yourself, and consider your “self-speak”, additionally to the various ways you label or criticize others – you will find that most of these thoughts are not desirable, wanted, needed, or even truthful. They are simply conditioned. Repetitive loops of information that we have received or repeated about our lives or how others impact us.

mind open with wonderUnlearning the past

To be empowered by more authentic and gratifying thoughts, these ingrained thoughts must be unlearned, debunked as unconscious mind propaganda. Think about how useless and damaging these thoughts can be to your personal self-image or to how you relate to others. If a thought, action, or behavior does not add to any situation or condition, what is its value? None!  Don’t be afraid to let a thought go, you can always choose to get it back – but truly letting things go because they are not serving you today is freeing, exhilarating, and smart. Remember how we used to think the world was flat. Yeah, pretty hard to imagine we were that small minded, but this is an example of believing things because you think you’re supposed to and also a good example of how tough it is to let things go.

knowing yourselfToday, consider some of the most persistent thoughts you entertain about yourself. How do you think about your skills, your level of intelligence, your body and personality, your value to others and to the world? Do you consider yourself lovable? Do you consider yourself valuable? If any of these thoughts are negative – debunk them. Unlearn them. These old negative thoughts are simply not true, so quit giving them your time and energy. Even if you consider they “might” have been true in the past, you are not that same person you were then and you must take on the new skill of understanding that at this moment, you are new and reinventing yourself every moment.

Unlearning sketchy and perfunctory thoughts that we allow to hang around unconsciously is like getting a new outfit or buying a new car. It’s revitalizing! The old is over, outdated, and useless. Study the patterns and begin to see clearly that these old belief are not serving you. Make some room in your mind and spirit for some new, more authentic beliefs about yourself, the relationships you hold dear, and the world in general. Below are a few tips to get started:

 “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”Meister Eckhart


  • Take a thought every day that is diminishing to you or others and write it down. Now relish in the pleasure of crossing it out- boldly.
  • Write down several thoughts and beliefs about yourself that do not make you feel good about yourself on small pieces of paper. Have a nice ceremony where you either burn your beliefs (paper) in a trash can or have some fun throwing them off a cliff, or in a trash compactor.
  • Go way back, way, way back and remember a time that fostered one of the bad feelings you still hang on to about yourself. Now imagine this scene differently putting a comical or ridiculous frame around it. Put a dunce hat on the person saying something diminishing to you, or make that person have a really squeaky voice.
  • Take any non-serving thought and pretend you are putting it on a plate and eat it.

i am what i choose to beNow it is time for YOU to choose what and how you want to learn about your authentic and true being and how you relate to others. Do not be driven by old made up thoughts about yourself or thoughts that really didn’t even come from you! Think instead about what truly inspires you and learn more about it. Why does it inspire you? What feelings does it invoke? What do you feel most passionate about? When do you feel most happy? Take these types of questions and experiences and discover the true essence of yourself. Don’t take the leftovers of yesteryears impressions to know who and what you are about today! Discover your essence and your authenticity today by unlearning all the old baggage of yesterday. You CANNOT lose anything! Everything you need is always with you, so unlearn the old messages so that you can be alert to new and inspiring ones.

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