Mistakes aren’t so embarrassing during the learning process. But it’s especially humbling when we find ourselves mysteriously doing the wrong thing repeatedly after we’re supposed to know better. We used to do or can envision a hopeful, practical or necessary improvement, but we can’t get ourselves to do it the way we want.
Not A Know-It-All
Being only human also means not knowing it all. Humans seem to be short-sighted by nature. We order priorities as best we can, but often can’t predict the total effect of what might occur over time. Whatever we practice, we train ourselves to do – even if it’s not what we want. Decisions about what we want are made with certain intentions in mind, but sometimes it’s not even possible to imagine all of the factors. How success is defined may need to answer new or extra factors that only get revealed later. As situations change gradually, we might not notice that it’s about to be a whole new game. Sometimes we adapt brilliantly to extraordinary circumstances, but later it’s unnecessary. Sometimes we dig our own hole too deeply from being “once bitten, twice shy.” Trying too hard can cause the littlest wrong thing to go ballistic.
So it’s obviously not merely a matter of motivation to want to do what’s right – or even being clueless. It’s a matter of not being able to get rid of whatever we do while learning that is steering us wrong. By accident what we don’t want somehow piggy-backed onto what we ended up learning.
Alexander Technique shows to undo what we learn by accident. The first step is polishing up your perception. That takes nothing special, just plain old self-observation.
Now, can anyone tell me something about how to notice what is going on with yourself? Any takers on this question?
Actually, with a little forethought, unlearning or learning a new skill happens quite fast. Remembering to do these new things often is the challenge. The habitual old ways sort of sneak back in when you’re not noticing it might matter.
Here’s a simple unlearning technique involving an interesting scientific point about the stress of learning. It seems that it’s common that the learning process creates a certain amount of stress. Taking one minute or so breaks during learning before going back to the activity being learned. This will lessen the stress of being challenged.
Let’s say that you are learning or doing an activity that is unfamiliar until you suddenly hit on something that does work. It’s important to stop at that moment for about a minute.
In fact, taking a break to be delighted about your success helps “lock in” the new experience and mark it as special from all other not-so-successful attempts. You might think about what you did or thought that led up to the successful result or step that just happened. You can do something else while you wait for these moments to go by while you are pausing. You might congratulate yourself, clap about your success, pat yourself on the back as if you’re much younger than you really are. It works to do all this, even though you might feel that “it just happened” by itself, or by complete accident. Imagine it as having happened “accidentally on purpose”.
Then return to the activity and attempt the new skill again; repeat what you did beforehand that was leading up to the success (if you can remember what that was. Especially if these preceding actions, unrelated thoughts or fleeting mood seemed to have ha little or no bearing on the success of the outcome of the skill. You never really know until you try it a few more times what really helped the success happen.)