What Can be Learned can be Unlearned
Posted by Pamela S. on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
“When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.” — Henry David Thoreau
There is a reason that they say you should never take driving lessons from a relative or a friend. You pick up all of their bad habits. The same applies to many things in life, including your career. We all develop habits of doing things wrong over the years, or were taught the wrong way to begin with. Luckily, what can be learned can be unlearned.
The downside is that unlearning is twice as difficult as learning. It is easier to learn the proper techniques in the first place. Human behavior- the way we act and relate to others is also learned. Psychologists refer to this as behaviorism. Behavioral modification is changing the way that you do things, not the way that you think.
Unacceptable learned behaviors can be unlearned. Unlearned behaviors are something different. For example, you learn not to put your hand on a hot burner because you discover that you get burnt. This is learned. Unlearned behaviors are innate. We are born with the desire to eat food and we don’t need to learn this. We can learn to eat healthy foods, and eating healthy helps us to learn.
“The chief object of education is not to learn things but to unlearn things.” — G.K. Chesterton
When I became a private investigator, there were no college courses. You joined an agency, and they trained you. I am sure that I learned some bad behaviors, because looking back, some of the people who taught me weren’t doing things the right way. I also learned some great techniques and tips from some fantastic investigators. I know this now, because I have years of experience, but I had to unlearn some things. I educated myself, and I took courses to learn how to do things in a better way.
In order to unlearn, you need to start over. Not completely over, but you have to keep an open mind and delve into the process. You have to analyse what works and what doesn’t. To do this, you have to observe other people who are doing the same thing you are doing. Not one person, a variety of people, because even the most successful person has developed bad habits. I’m sure you work with someone who makes the same glaring mistake over and over. Everyone spots it, except the person who has learned the behaviour. That person might be you. Ask for an evaluation from your peers and your manager. It is difficult to get negative feedback, but it will help you in the long run.
“I have spent most of my life unlearning things that were proved not to be true.” — R. Buckminster Fuller
Remember this quote. As an investigator this is a good thing to keep in mind. How often have you received a piece of information and worked on that premise, excluding other information because you thought you were going down the right road? We all get hunches, often proving to be true, but if we only act on the hunch and forget everything else, we may miss something crucial. Keep an open mind and investigate all sources. Sometimes you need to let what you learned go, if it is holding you back.
“No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda
“I can’t believe she is quoting Yoda, a fictional Star Wars character.” If this is what you are thinking, then possibly you have learned to take things too seriously and have no sense of humor. Unlearn it. Humor is vital. It helps us relate to people and cope with stressful situations.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.