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Change Begins with Unlearning Old Habits

November 30, 2010

BeachWe have all heard the expression that when we are young our minds are like a sponge. As children, we learned nearly anything simply by watching other people perform tasks. Ideas that adults offered us seemed almost immediately absorbed by our youthful brains. We took in massive amounts of data as we quickly developed motor skills and explored our universe! We learned at such a rapid rate that we took in more than we should have, and this set us up for later in life, to have to change. Many things we learned are undesirable, like the use of manipulating other people and negative thinking. I have noticed though that when we are older and experienced that learning can take on a completely new meaning. When it comes to changing and self-help, many things simply need to be unlearned! In fact, we may have difficulty changing our thinking and emotional states until we do.

Throughout our lives, we form habits and thinking patterns and our mind seems overloaded with learned behavior. Just the same, as a full bottle cannot hold more liquid, I think that sections of our minds can become full. Trying to learn to think positive and place it over the negative may be disadvantageous. We really do not need to learn to think positive; we simply need to unlearn how to think negative. This is the fascinating thing about being mature; we already understand a lot! If we can just work on unlearning with the use of paying attention to our thoughts, we will succeed in changing. Habits are difficult to break and this is the challenge of learning as an adult. Take, for example, smoking; we learn to smoke. Do we actually believe that we need to learn how not to smoke? Do we even need to learn how to avoid lighting that cigarette?

If you practice unlearning and usually this means to stop doing what you ordinarily would do you will experience transformation. So many things change automatically once you commence the unlearning process! I used to bite my fingernails, and I did not have to learn how to keep my fingers out of my mouth! I had to stop putting them in my mouth; breaking the practice was as straightforward as that. Yes, it is most challenging to unlearn, and it requires self-discipline. Nevertheless, once you unlearn something your opportunity for new learning opens. After I stopped biting my nails, I could learn how to file them and clip them, etc. My whole purpose, here was to get your mind thinking, about what you know. You know more than you may realize, and you may not have that much to learn. Try unlearning for a while and see if that takes your mind in the direction you desire to go in life. You have plenty of good feelings, positive thoughts and knowledge buried beneath whatever you need to unlearn.


4 Comments to “Change Begins with Unlearning Old Habits”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Hendricks, Maria Muir.com. Maria Muir.com said: RT @thisshouldhelp2: Change Begins with Unlearning Old Habits http://nblo.gs/bdSAa [...]

  2. Sandra: I think this is such an insightful post and as you explained, we usually do have to unlearn the bad habits we may have picked up over the years and correct the limiting beliefs. In many ways it is like reprogramming ourselves and chipping away piece by piece at those habits and beliefs that may be working against us. Great insight. Thanks for passing it along.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Sibyl,

      It is wonderful to see you here, and thank you for your comment! Learning and unlearning are most surely like a reprogramming process.

  3. Galen Pearl says:

    I like this! My blog is all about habits. I completely agree–we have to unlearn or substitute good for bad.

    I especially like what you said about being too full. There is a story about a zen master who was visited by a professor who went on and on about all he knew about Buddhism. The master began pouring tea in the professor’s cup, but when the cup filled up, he kept pouring. The professor exclaimed, “Stop! The cup will not hold anymore.” The master replied, “That’s right. How can I teach you anything if you do not first empty your cup?”

    .-= Galen Pearl´s last blog ..GLAD =-.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Galen,

      Welcome to Give and Get Blog, I appreciate you sharing the story of the zen master. Self-improvement is more about unlearning than it is about learning. We must first determine what is necessary for us to let go of, and then we will have the opportunity for growth.