The Art of Unlearning.

Neeha Fathima
4 min readNov 27, 2021


The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” ~ Alvin Toffler

We grow up in rigid environments where we are conditioned to believe in a set of things and completely disregard others. We have too many preconceived ideas about the world and how things work. We form a prejudice over things that we don’t even understand. We don’t realize that we are limiting ourselves whilst holding on to everything we have ever known. Existing in a world that is constantly moving and pacing itself for new challenges, we must see things from a fresh perspective.

What is unlearning?

Just like we adapt to our surroundings over time, we also adapt to things being a certain way, so much so that we do not even give it a thought.

We must realize everything that we have learned throughout our lives might not be correct, might not be true. Just because things have always been a certain way does not mean they are right, and it is not an excuse to diminish anyone’s thoughts based on these moral misconceptions.

We often find ourselves conflicted between how things are supposed to be and how we want them to be. And we fall back into the same loop of compromises.

Overcoming the hurdle of letting go and finding more effective ways of doing things is what unlearning is all about.

Why Unlearn?

The evolution of Homo Sapiens has taught us that although we are afraid of change, we require change. We need to recondition our minds and advance our abilities to survive.

We need to revamp our mindsets and reassess things that we have believed in for a long time to be able to move on and cherish the things that come along our way.

Not changing is proportional to denying new propositions, and ideas. And that is the beginning of a battle, that’ll lead to huge bloodshed and sorrow.

How to Unlearn?

Step 1 — Acceptance

We have learned from history that every time anyone introduced a new perception into society, they were turned down and looked down upon. No matter how revolutionary the idea might be, it faces resistance merely because it is beyond the imagination of a commoner. But looking back, these outcasts were the people that changed the world with their innovations.

We are accustomed to the conventional way of doing things, which might not be the most effective way but we keep going on because it is the most convenient method. People face troubles adapting to new things mostly because they have been stagnant all their lives and have been doing things a certain way.

Accepting that our current ideologies or theories might not be the right way to go is a crucial part of unlearning.

Step 2 — Learn to let go

We latch on to certain ideas and beliefs and refuse to get past them sometimes. We are tempted to imitate our friends, co-workers, and the people in our society simply because it is easier.

Letting go of these ideas that we’ve held onto for so long, will overwhelm you with relief as well as an anticipation to learn and regard new things.

“Letting go” is really about acknowledging the fact that your mind, your energy, and your thoughts are all valuable. It is about identifying your self-worth and comprehending that the conflicts and negative feelings are not worth ruining your mindset over.

“Letting go” cannot be taught, it is something you will learn to do overtime when you truly value your peace of mind and want to avoid unnecessary friction at all costs.

Consciously let go of the information, that you feel is causing hindrance in your growth.

Step 3 — Foster Curiosity

The first step towards destroying the evil of stagnation is to induce curiosity in our minds.

We must let ourselves tinker over things, ask questions, and feed the feeling of knowing and experiencing everything. Being inquisitive, and being hungry for knowledge is a sign of growth. And we must stick to it as long as we are capable of it.

Learn about new cultures, talk about the economy, discuss politics with your friends, do whatever it takes for you to not be static. The world needs more mindfulness and listeners, and if you are adept at these simple but highly effective values, then you’ve done your part right.

To be able to move on from all that you have learned and all that you have acquired is a blessing. Because things that are so deeply ingrained in our systems are not easy to let go of.

Step 4 — Be determined to move forwards.

There will be circumstances that’ll pull you back, there will be cultural moral obligations, and there will be feuds that are not under your control. But being different, and having an opinion, comes at a cost, so choose your path. Be someone that knows wrong from right, someone who is there for people with a great disparity.

There is no shame in wanting to “fit-in”, or camouflaging with others around you, but know that even when you’re trying to blend in, your mind is only as caged as you let it be.

Give things a thought, look into things deeply, study them if required, but don’t pass judgments left and right based on acquired understanding. As long as you use your mental resource, and continue empathizing, things won’t seem too complicated. So take a look back at things if you have to, but still choose to move forward.

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Neeha Fathima

UX Designer, psychology enthusiast, part-time philosopher and bibliophile. 🌻