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Learning From Our Experiences

When we are listening to our internal critic it  simply replays all the things we do wrong. It reminds us we are no good and will never do anything right. And we find ourselves either beating ourselves up or constantly trying to defend ourselves.

When we are learning any new skill, there is a learning curve.  With each new layer of learning we become more adept at that skill.

When we realize that developing our talents and skills in life is an ongoing process versus a one time event, we can relax, accept the fact that we are constantly learning and grow from them.  

Learning from experiences does not mean we won’t feel bad, defensive, annoyed, guilty or ashamed. The difference is what we tell ourselves about the experience and what we do with it.

If we are unable to learn from our experiences, we will become a victim, blame what is happening on others or become a defeatist and resentful. When operating in that mode of thinking, we are unable to make the changes we desire.

When we accept both our more pleasing attributes and our less desirable ones, we can accept constructive criticism, tell ourselves what we did may not have been the best choice and change behaviors. We do not have to be either right or wrong. 

Think back to times when things went wrong. Close your eyes and revisit the event.

Who was involved? What did you do? What was the response from others? What messages did you hear from others? What emotions did you feel and what were the automatic thoughts that accompanied those emotions? What did you tell yourself? How would you like to replay this event?

Beating ourselves up does not help us learn. Always blaming others or circumstances doesn’t help either. Carefully examining our behaviors, our “unenforceable rules”, our thought processes and our beliefs, however, will help to broaden our frame of reference about events and our experiences. 

Develop a pro-active attitude that says I can learn something valuable from every experience that will benefit me. Then establish the principles and values you want to follow regardless of what anyone else is doing.  You don’t have to be re-active.

We can admit when we are wrong and when we are right. We become compassionate and give grace to both ourselves and others. We accept our own vulnerabilities and inabilities and extend the same consideration to others. We recognize that we are not the center of the universe. We can acknowledge that we do not know everything and become excited about learning.  

We can correct destructive behavior patterns and feel good about it.

©Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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