Experiences throughout life are incredible teachers, but only if we spend time reflecting on the experience and learning from our thoughts, decisions, and actions. Our life lessons and experiences start very early and profoundly impact how we view the world as we get older.
For some people, these life lessons or experiences simply occur and get stored in memories without any processing or reflection. For others, experiences in life are examined over and over, often as a way to reinforce an existing opinion of our abilities or lack of abilities.
In fact, life experiences are valuable tools for learning more about ourselves and how to change our thinking, behaviors, and responses. By understanding that life doesn’t just happen to us, and we have choices that we can make to influence the outcome, we can develop empowerment, understanding, and experience personal learning that we can use in other situations.
Taking the Time to Reflect
Some of the most powerful life lessons are those that are difficult to think back on over time. People prefer to keep these memories buried deep in their minds to avoid the discomfort of a time when we felt helpless, hopeless, or overwhelmed. Looking back and seeing how this event shaped your life and helped you to have positive experiences is a very empowering exercise.
Using these life experiences, or how what seems like a negative event can lead to positive experiences later in life, is a lesson learned. This can help to reframe experiences in life and focus on opportunities rather than on failures.
Act on Knowledge
Reflecting on life lessons and experiences is only half of the equation. The other half is tapping into that pool of knowledge to make more informed decisions in the present. This is another tool to use to help you to make the best choice with the knowledge you have on hand.
When decisions, choices, or challenges occur in life, take the time to consider if they are similar to any other experiences. It is unlikely they will be identical but are there components or aspects of the problem that are familiar or like other things you have experienced in the past?
Looking back on the decisions you made in the past with the information you had then is a great way to orient yourself to make the right decision with this problem. Use the life lesson and insight you have about the past experience to effectively chart your course with the current issue.