Like the memo function in programming our brain tends to get conditioned over time to provide immediate output to inputs. A good example is learning to drive. Earlier one is too conscious about the steering, vehicle’s response to throttle and brakes; over time people forget the fact that they are driving and indulge in nice music or a conversation as driving becomes automatic to them without having to think.
Doing the same thing again and again makes the task etched so well into our brain. This is true for any given task whether it is good in nature or bad, the subconscious does not differentiate and it keeps trying to make you efficient. Therefore it is important for us to make sure our exposure from friends. books, tv and workplace is generally positive and our attitude is generally positive.
Over the years I had a chance to work under different kinds of people and subsconsiously they have shaped me to what I am today. I have observed often that the bad habits gets passed from the peers than the good ones as they have an illusion of short term gains. The bad habits gets passed on mostly in the form of gossip and getting the bad views and thoughts over and again is so powerful that it can create illusions that can last a life time as the real data wont be verified.
For example, the resistance to change was so powerful that it took me about 6-7 months for me avoid the words ‘actually’ and ‘basically’ when I talk. After I decided to get rid of them, I kept a conscious watch of when I use those two words. For the first few weeks I used to say those words and kick myself because I keep repeating the mistake. About a month later I was successful in controlling those and forgot tracking that after the first couple of months. After 6 months or so I noticed that I had got rid of it, unlearning was far more tougher and time consuming process than learning.
The difficulty to unlearn is due to the brain’s inclination in making the input/output super responsive that most of them would be cached. The instincts are the ones which mostly controls and the conscience is a mere supervisor. We should make sure to check that we dont form any habit that make us look incompetent and will make us pay a lot to unlearn.
Not only we should avoid negative influence, we should also keep learning and try to increase our skills in depth and breadth, as over the course of time the brain will make the learning process more efficient and we will get better and quicker in picking up new things.
Practice makes a man perfect. Keep learning every day.