The power of UNLEARNING (what, why and how)

The power of UNLEARNING (what, why and how)

We will learn three things about unlearning (what it is/isn’t, why we should unlearn, and how we should unlearn)…let us dive in!

How do you unlearn something? Can you even unlearn? Why would you unlearn something that took your mind lot of effort to learn? Why is unlearning so important ? If you think about it and ink about it, it makes it a strong starting point to unravel this mystery and use it for power you to be more equipped, to make better decisions. Unlearning is not on the opposite side of learning, it is actually a necessary and important step in learning. 

What is Unlearning:

Well, the first thing is to understand that “un”learning is not wiping a clean slate, emptying your precious cup, forgetting what you learnt, and neither is the process that simple (would we all not be glad if if it was that easy)! So first and foremost, let us define what it is not : Unlearning is not about forgetting something you have learnt. By design, we are attached to things (memories, lessons, objects, concepts, contexts) so anything that starts us with “let it go”, puts us at an immediate resistance alert mode.  Unlearning is one such thing that the moment we hear about it, it triggers an internal reaction that someone is about to take away something “that I so dearly hold dear, and I’m not willing to let that go!”

We do not like things taken away from us. Nuh, uh , not so easy.  This is mine, this defines ME! Go away, unLearning!  Unlearning is simply gaining the ability to be aware of the origins, defaults, patterns, and triggers of the original learning, and putting in (see, not taking “out”) many alternative mental models and perspectives to the matter at hand

Why should we unlearn?

When we learn, we add new skills or knowledge to what we already know. When we unlearn, we step outside the mental model in order to have more choices (we love that), giving us more control (yep, we love that too!), and more sense of being in charge. We also have the bonus of becoming the most curious and humble person in the room because an unlearner is the most refreshing person in the room, who is willing to listen to what others have to offer and add new dimensions, than keep showing off their own!

How can we unlearn (or at least get started) with the process?

  1. Question the Origins (of the learning) : Where did I learn this first? What was the circumstance ? Am in applying that origin bias which is hindering my ability to see this in new perspective? When was the last time I tried something new when faced with this learning?
  2. Question the Defaults (of your ‘learned’ mind) :  Have I always believed something, can it be something else, can I give this a dramatically different perspective? Do I go to default mode because it is simpler than easier ? Am I lazy or unmotivated ? Am I insecure or scared than changing defaults will change me as a person (THE person who I’m proud of)
  3. Question the Patterns (of your environment) : What environment did this learning apply, and has that changed ? Who delivered this learning (source, medium ) and was there an emotion or memory attached to that information that is not letting me, let go.  Is my canvas bigger since I learnt this last time ?
  4. Question the Triggers (of your decisions/choices) : What was the trigger that made me to choose this as a fact. What is the new trigger I can create, to add new perspectives to that learning so I can have a multi dimensional advantage over this information, to make better decisions in future. Have I added more triggers or using old ones all the time.

So, in summary :

What have you learnt (unlearnt) by reading this? Feel free to email me questions, your models, lessons and ideas. Would love to hear, and unlearn a bit!


@shailutips (twitter) (email)


  1. Moment I saw “Unlearning”,i thought that “Clearing the little know informtion we know about a topic or task” so that we learn effectively but this gave altogether a new perspective. This is a new learning. And I think my “Unlearning” personality brought me hear 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Shailu, great read! I particularly enjoyed your in-depth discussion of question defaults, since it was something I hadn’t really thought of before. Being a fellow blogger myself, I also really appreciate how organized and well-formatted everything was – it definitely made the content much more digestible overall. Keep up the awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very profound topic brought up in such a simple form! Shailu is a great educator! Wish schools give more emphasis on teaching students about various thinking methodologies. Thank you!


    1. This made my day. Coming from such an intelligent and affectionate person I admire a lot. Much love, Qiang! Let’s continue UNlearning , together!


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