In the world of duality we live in – good and bad, right and wrong, pain and pleasure – it is common for us to forget that good can come from unpleasant, even painful experiences.
Given that our mind is by nature negatively focussed, it will resist to look at and review painful experiences. Instead, it’ll continue to rehash what happened, create a whirlwind of troubling thoughts that feed the inner vortex of negative emotions created by the painful experience.
Only once we make the choice to step out of the vortex, fully release the emotions and become calmer, are we able to look at the experience from a different, even helpful vantage point. One that reminds us that, difficult as it may seem, we can always learn something from whatever happens in our life – especially the painful experiences.
You see, to face everything as an opportunity to grow and get to know yourself better – is probably one of the most empowering attitudes to have when you’re encountering difficult and even painful situations.
This attitude is really good medicine. When applied often enough, it will help to reduce the number of painful experiences you will encounter along your journey through life.
How is this possible?
Let’s begin to answer that by contrasting the two types of experiences we all encounter and what their exact purpose is.
Positive experiences prompt you to repeat certain behaviours, actions and ways of being. In the midst of a positive experience, serotonin ripples through your mind and body, you experience a multitude of other ‘feel good’ benefits such as laughing, smiling, and having fun, all the way to feeling energetic, enthusiastic, happy, healthy, successful and loved.
Painful experiences have the opposite effect. Often you’ll experience a kaleidoscope of emotions from rage to annoyance, grief to sadness, heartache to hurt, and everything in between. In contrast to positive experiences, painful ones prompt you to pivot in the opposite direction, to transform and change restrictive, even detrimental thought, behavioural and emotional patterns – for the better.
To the extent you fully engage with your challenges and work through your painful experiences, you will no longer repeat similar experiences.
You will notice that you complain and blame less, have a more accepting attitude and feel far fewer unwanted emotions.
You feel free of the past, at peace in the present, and move forward with anticipation, as you create your future – without all the painful baggage. (Clients who completed the Release the Past: Experience Peace and Ease Again Program happily attest to this.)
Best of all, as you engage with every experience, and embrace its lessons, everything becomes a step that propels you to a higher level of self-awareness.
Eventually you’re faced with fewer challenges and come to feel more calm and content – more consistently.
Before you look at the lessons your experiences bring you, it’s important to remember an experience doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. The meaning it has, is the meaning you choose to give it. You have the power to give it a positive, negative, or even neutral meaning– it all depends on how you choose to perceive the experience.
In most cases, your perception of an experience will create an emotional reaction of sorts. It’s vitally important for you to release and remove all negative emotions relating to a painful experience first, before you look for the lessons and opportunities for growth.
The next time you meet an adversity, or have an unpleasant experience, ask yourself these six questions to see and understand the hidden lesson, opportunity, and blessing.
1. What can I learn from this entire experience, so I can prevent this from happening again?
2. What is this adversity showing me about myself?
3. What is it I need to learn to express, transform or develop within myself?
4. What could this experience be preparing me for?
5. What positives can I draw from it?
6. If faced by a similar situation in future, what will I do differently?
What would it be like if you were to ask these questions automatically, every time you are faced with a challenge or painful experience?
You would be able to move beyond it much easier, wouldn’t you?
And you would feel a whole lot better?
Even though it may be not be easy, engage with every painful experience, work through the emotions generated and understand how the experience can help you.
Look at what you can transform within yourself, what you’ll do differently in future and make the necessary changes. Do this and you will absolutely enhance and enrich your life experiences, as you move forward.
You can, like Oprah Winfrey suggests, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”