Whenever we learn a new task we have to think about how we will start, each and every step along the way, to get to the desired result. We start off by at the unconscious incompetent stage, that is we are unaware that we cannot do the skill until we attempt it for the first time. At that stage we become conscious of our level of incompetence. With practice and patience we become skilled, and yet still have to think about how we accomplish the task, and are therefore consciously competent with the skill. Eventually we reach that stage where we don’t have to think about either doing the task or how we are doing the task and reach the final stage of unconscious competence. If we then don’t practice from time to time we can also drop back down the ladder and require more practice to reach that pinnacle of learning again.
Let’s work through this all with an example that should cover the vast majority of the World’s population. How did we become unconsciously competent at walking? For the ease of description the baby in question is a boy.
A normal, healthy, baby starts by seeing others walking about, talking to him and sees the possibility of doing the same. He’s already able to stand, holding on and shuffle from side to side holding on, but hasn’t yet reached that stage of letting go. His first attempt, as he let’s go of the sofa with his first hand ends up with him sitting on the floor wondering what’s happened. After a few attempts he moves from the unconscious incompetence stage to the conscious incompetence stage (he realises it’s just not that simple).
Our baby is now aware that walking is a difficult process and needs to be thought about. He tries, new things, learning what works and what doesn’t. He ends up on the floor time and time again, until finally…..
He takes his first steps. Quickly he moves from one step to two, onto ten and he is walking. He is a bit clunky still, having to think about each step, but he keeps going. More and more practice until he’s finally at the stage where he can walk about without having to even think. He’s reached that pinnacle of learning.
No conscious thought is involved now in his walking about. For those parents out there, how many celebrations went on throughout that process? How many times did we clap our hands, and cheer, and encourage them to achieve? How amazing was that?
Why we learn
We learn because by becoming unconsciously competent at a skill will get us something great. Be it the praise of a parent, the ability to drive and gain freedom. Whatever that prize is, it’s a massive driving force behind us learning. It must be because we practice and practice, fail and learn, fail and learn over and over until we can repeatedly do what we want.
Why we so often give up
Quite simple, our reason for learning the skill, or accomplishing the task, simply isn’t big enough to get us over the hurdles of failing.
Good and bad habits are learned in the same way
Our bad habits are learned in the same way as the good. For those of you that have smoked in the past, or still do smoke, remember back to your first cigarette. How many times did you cough at the smoke going down into your lungs? How did you learn to hold the cigarette the right way? How many cigarettes did it take for you to be able to smoke without thinking about it?
Changing our learning, relearning and unlearning
In the same way as learning a new skill, we can learn a different way of doing things. We do it all the time. For instance do you eat your food the way you used to when you were a toddler? Do you still do your job the same way you used to? Do you still walk and talk the way you used to as a child? Of course you don’t. We are always learning new ways of doing things. The human race are amazing at adapting to whatever happens. We adapt, we overcome. It’s that simple. Even better, there are ways of making the learning process so much easier.
Please carry on reading for some ways that hypnotherapy and neuro linguistic programming can help to accelerate the process.