5 Things You Should Unlearn

The only certainty that live gives us is that life is uncertain. It will come as no surprise when I say that we live in an ever evolving world. So we have to ask the question, is everything we have learned up until this point still relevant?

We started to learn the moment that we came into this world. As we were growing up, our parents taught us manners, habits and behaviours. Hopefully positive ones at that!

However, over your life you have most likely also picked up many ideas, traits and thoughts that are false and negative. Overtime these can becoming very damaging to our overall health, and derail us from the life that we want to live. Even if some of these habits were taught with good intentions, they might simply have become outdated in “modern” times. And that is perfectly ok!

I think it is important to stress the fact that unlearning does not equal forgetting. Unlearning is simply reducing the effect that our old knowledge has on our current way of thinking.

Recent studies in the field of psychology have shown that we cannot simply “forget” a certain piece of information. We will have to replace our habits and behaviours by more positive ones.

But how exactly do we unlearn a behaviour or a habit? Is there even a difference?

Unlearning A Habit

Habits are the bread and butter of how we live our life. We have entire routines that we perform simply out of habit. Therefore it is incredibly important that we fill up our day with positive habits that are geared towards long term success.

As discussed before, we cannot simply get rid of our old habits, instead we have to replace them with better ones. Luckily for us, there is a very structured and easy method out there to follow. Let’s go through it!

1. Acknowledge your bad habits

Having a bad habit is synonymous with any problem. If you don’t know its there, there is simply no way you can start to solve the issue. I have written an article about a quick mental exercise you can do to figure out the root of any problem you have in life. It is a great tool to figure out some of the bad habits you have.

Feel free to check out this article here!

2. Understand your habit triggers

Habits are a cycle of behaviours that are started by something called a trigger. You can sit at your desk and be working and hear your phone vibrate. Without even thinking, you reach for your phone and pick it up. The tactile cue of feeling and hearing your phone vibrate is what triggered your habit of picking up your phone.

The trigger can oftentimes be the hardest part of a habit to figure it. We might know we snack too much because we crave it so often. This craving feeling is a trigger. The trigger could be you crave something sweet after you finish your dinner, or when you walk into the kitchen. You will have to be patient and persistence in search of the trigger!

3. Unlearning a habit is all about the triggers

There are 2 main ways to get rid of habits when attacking the triggers. The first is to simply avoid the trigger. This only works in some cases however. Take the first example of the vibrating phone example. Want to get rid of the trigger? Simple! Just put your phone on silent and remove it from the vicinity. You have removed the trigger therefore the habit can never start!

The second way is more applicable to all scenarios. That is using the trigger to kick start a positive habit. Instead of grabbing your phone when it vibrates, teach yourself to drink some water every time your phone goes off.

You have to consciously grab for your water bottle every time your phone goes off, but sooner or later you will do this unconsciously. Hence you have replaced a negative habit by a good one!

I have written a much more detailed explanation how to unlearn habits as well as behaviors, so if you are interested in more information you can find that article via this link here!

Things You Should Unlearn

There are many common pitfalls that a lot of us cling to dearly. They have either been taught to us by our parents, or they are a staple in society. However I firmly believe that the following points are keeping you from being the best version of yourself.

1. If all my wishes come true right now, life will be perfect

I constantly hear the people around me say something along the lines of “If I had X amount of money, all my problems would disappear.” While I don’t doubt that money would solve a lot of short term issues, it is no guarantee of a successful life.

I think that that is a very short sighted statement!

There are so many successful celebrities that have everything anyone could ever dream of that still ended up broke, unhappy, in jail and more. Money, or anything easy in life will never fix any of your underlying issues.

The only thing that will truly give us satisfaction in the long term is hard work and dedication. You have to suffer in life to appreciate all the special moments. If your entire life is made up of crazy fun moments, this will quickly become the norm for you. Hence you will not be able to appreciate the environment you find yourself in

2. Fear failure and mistakes

A common myth that still circles society is that failure is the opposite of success. But you have to understand that without failing, no one would ever have gotten truly successful!

Failure isn’t the opposite of success, rather it is the stepping stone leads to success.

In high school we were always taught that mistakes were bad. They would remove points from our exams, punish us with extra work etc. In real life that is not the cause at all. We should be encouraged to go out there, fail, make mistakes and learn from it.

Learn to embrace your failures in life. Don’t be ashamed from them and start to learn valuable lessons from your defeats.

3. It matters what people think of you

This point in the list is by far the most personal one for me, since it is the one thought in my head that kept me from being me for so long. I have recently made great strides in unlearning this idea. I can already say that it has had positively affected my life. If I still believed that the opinion of others mattered, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

A lot of peoples insecurities and lack of confidence stem from the fact that they believe the opinions of others should be taken into account. The worry about others has dramatic effects on one’s self-esteem.

You have to live the life that you want to live, not the life other people want you to live.

Are you afraid to go to a dancing class because of what your friends will think? How many of these friends will still be in your life 5 years from now? You will still be there, so focus on yourself and ignore those who are not supportive of your aspirations!

4. Everything has to be perfect

It is simply impossible to be good at everything in life. If you set too high expectations of yourself, you are setting yourself up for quitting on your dreams. You simply won’t see the results you expect quick enough, and this will be demotivating enough to make you quit!

Let me give you a personal example:

I recently got into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art focused on grappling. In my mind, to get really good at this sport, I had to train it at least 5-6 times per week. Trying to combine this with my other hobbies and studies turned out to be impossible.

Since I was only able to realistically train 2-3 days per week, I felt that I wasn’t meeting my expectations and giving my 100% effort to the goal of becoming a better grappler. The result being that I ended up quitting for quite a while.

If I had not gone in with such high expectations of myself, I would likely have stuck to training 2-3 times per week. I would be at a higher level than I currently am.

Sometimes our high expectations actually cause us to under-perform. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

5. Don’t let others down

Trying to please everyone and making them happy is just a very inefficient use of your time. The main reason for this is that a lot of people around you just won’t reciprocate this kind of behavior.

Now if you know people that will, then by all means spend a lot of time on building and maintaining these meaningful relationships. Just be careful to not waste your time on those who won’t spend time on you!

After all you have your own life to live and build. If your friends want to go out and party for example, but you have work to complete. Then it is very reasonable to let them down and grind when you need too. If they are supportive of your dreams, they shouldn’t be difficult about this.

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