So...What Have You Learned?
Dark days. Dark times. Very little light, if any, at the end of the tunnel. Self-inflicted or the result of the heavens raining it down on me, sometimes I feel like I’m there. I’m ready and willing to allow all that is troubling to literally infect my mindset and outlook, all the while complaining about the injustice of it all. And that complaining and despair feels extremely justified when things are so wrong. So I grab my glass of wine, put on my “ask me if I care face” and mope. Thankfully, it doesn’t last for long. I’m not one to mope. But one of the only things that gets me out of this manufactured pity party is attempting to figure out what I learned. It is like a logic problem. I know the answers are in there somewhere if I just keep searching, keep manipulating the data that is right in front of me. There must be a lesson. There must be something to take away.
It certainly does feel better to believe that our troubles serve a greater purpose in our lives other than to just create chaos and toy with our emotions. I don’t necessarily believe that the universe is conspiring against me, nor do I believe that the universe is watching out for me to help me along. This challenging life, and how I feel about it and work through it, is up to me. And what comes my way is there for me to learn from, not just walk away from and pretend it never happened.
We can learn from our own mistakes. What happened? Not just what happened to us but what happened as a result of how we were feeling, how we reacted, how we internalized the situation, or how we attempted to work through it? What worked? What didn’t? Asking these questions is NOT about being upset that we didn’t do things differently or berating ourselves for the mistake. It is entirely about reminding ourselves that mistakes happen. That we are human. That we are allowed to not be perfect but still be worthy. And that our mistake is something that can show us a new way to try again. Imagine if we remembered that we are SUPPOSED to make mistakes, maybe we wouldn’t fear them so much? Mistakes can be pretty enlightening if looked at in the right way.
What did we learn about the people in your life? What did they say that gave us more insight into how they view a situation, or how they view us? Especially when we are disappointed by the behavior of others, what a distinct opportunity to learn more about them, as opposed to just being angry with them for not doing what we expected. Don’t we want others to learn more about WHO we are, not just judge you for what we do from one moment to the next? We have so much to learn about how others view the very same world that we occupy alongside them.
We learn from every experience. Unfortunately, we often learn to withdraw, or admonish ourselves, or throw up barriers to avoid pain. We want to avoid failure. All learning is not good learning. We need to be critical of what we take away from life’s experiences. So let’s not think of experiences and what we learn from them as good or bad. They are either productive or not. Learning that is productive equals progress. Learning that is not productive equals regression, stagnation, disenchantment or worse. It’s our job to learn from what is said, by us and by others, to ourselves, and to others. Learn from what you read and watch. And go even further by learning from history, learning from historical failures and hardships. Learn from successes and goals achieved. Never stop learning so we never stop growing. Do something productive with all of that pain or fear or angst and learn from it so that when it inevitably pops up again, we have a different story to tell.
We know more than we give ourselves credit for. We have already overcome adversity. We have already experienced pain and sadness. Dark days and dark times are nothing new. So go back to that inflection point and investigate what happened. Look at what worked, or what didn’t. No one else is going to do it. The challenge of learning, and the good that follows, is all up to us.