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Why Learning To Unlearn Is So Important

Living in the 21st century

Living in our time requires different skills, one of the most important of which is unlearning activities, skills and formerly productive (or wise) activities such that new learning can take place.

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Why Learning To Unlearn Is So Important

Why Learning To Unlearn Is So Important

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/08/02/why-learning-to-unlearn-is-so-important/

forbes.com

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Key Ideas

Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Automatic behaviors

Habitual behaviors usually occur in chains of activities: an initial stimulus sets them off, and then a sequence of events occurs. Habit chains are set off by triggers, which are stimulus events that bring the habits to mind and reinforce their execution.

Once a trigger sets a habit chain in motion, it is difficult to stop it: You either don't notice it is happening or it plays with your mind so you don't care. 

The shortcut to unlearning

'Flood' the old action with the newly desired action or habit.

Rather than focusing on the unlearning part, simply design the new action you would like to take its place. With this approach of flooding your old routine with newly designed actions, the process of new learning overwhelms and makes extinct the old actions you wanted to unlearn.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Mark Twain

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain
The most useful learning
Most people think about learning as adding knowledge and skills. You now have a new fact in your mind that didn’t exist before.

The most useful learning isn’t usually a strict addition of new knowledge, but first unlearning something false or unhelpful.

Types of Unlearning
  • Straightforward refutation of the old idea. This complete refutation is atypical. More likely the new knowledge doesn’t contradict the old one, but it may modify it in some way.
  • The new knowledge revises a simpler picture by filling it with more complex details. This is similar to adding new knowledge, although because the older, simpler view of the issue has been overwritten with more detail, there is some unlearning going on.

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Starting vs breaking a habit

The process of stopping bad habits is fundamentally different from forming new ones.

  • Creating a habit requires encoding a new set of automatic behaviors: the brain learns cau...
Progressive extremism

The process of “progressive extremism” utilizes what we know about the psychology of identity to help stop behaviors we don’t want. It works particularly well in situations in which substituting one habit for another just won’t do.

Identity helps us make otherwise difficult choices by offloading willpower. Our choices become what we do because of who we are.

"Don’t" vs "Can’t"

By classifying specific behaviors as things you will never do again, you put certain actions into the realm of “I don’t” versus “I can’t.”

Saying “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” provides greater “psychological empowerment.”

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The limits of habits
The limits of habits

Habit-building is a powerful tool for self-improvement. But the power of the tool can also create some overreach. In one way, habits will fail to form.

In other circumstances, habits are no...

Not all behaviors can be easily automated

Many habits are simply routines, but not all of them. _For example, there isn't a habit for a hard workout at the gym - you won't become absent-minded midway through a benchpress.

  • Habits are behaviors that flow automatically from a set of prompts.
  • Routines are behaviors we repeatedly do but involve many deliberate actions done with some effort and thinking.
Habits aren’t commitments
  • A commitment is a rule you've added for yourself. "I must exercise five times per week." But if you break that commitment, it can result in a backsliding effect.
  • A habit is that behavior that happens automatically from a triggering situation.

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