Learning from the past


On the continued theme of resilience this month I wanted to tackle something that could be an opportunity for all of us; something we could all do if we chose to. It occurred to me that whilst some people are able to learn from their past, many of us are not. Why do we keep making painful mistakes over and over again?

 

Building resilience in ourselves comes from a place of self-care. Let’s explore what we can do to make life less painful by learning as we live.


It’s natural when we experience something unpleasant or hurtful to quickly try to remedy or forget it. This in itself is our first mistake; we are denying ourselves an opportunity to learn.

 

Is it possible to stay for a moment and extract the learning?

Without wanting to re-live the pain, it would serve us to revisit the situation more objectively. To consider how we reacted, how else we might have responded and what action we might take next.

There is always something to learn about ourselves from our past responses. Especially when we question our own ability to cope with things. We are naturally resilient we need to learn to reconnect with this source of inner strength.
Here are a few questions we might ask ourselves the next time we feel hurt:

 

Why was this scenario painful/hurtful for me?

Once you have answered this question look for other occasions when this has happened in the past. If it happens often this is your trigger to help yourself further.

 

What is it I do (specifically) in these situations?

Do you freeze and not say anything and then regret it later? Do you raise your voice and show your anger? Look for the pattern of behaviour you exhibit in these situations.

Think of how someone else (maybe someone you know, maybe not) might behave

 

Have you seen others behave differently in similar situations?

The same situation can raise different feelings in people. Think about the different ways others have responded to similar situations. Why do you react in the way you do? Think also if this reaction is in response to a particular person? Is it the situation or the person who triggered this unhelpful reaction in you?

 

Having answered these questions for yourself it’s time to move on. Choose how you would like to respond.

One of the ways to begin to reduce the pain from these past events is to learn to respond differently in the future. Leaving the past where it is, where did the above line of enquiry lead you? Sometimes it helps to write out your answers to the questions.
You will have choices, note them down and then decide the best cause of action for you.

 

And the last point, really leave the past where it is. Don’t keep going over it in your mind. Simply extract the learning and then move on.

Over to you
As I read what I’ve written above my mind settles on a situation in my past that I think I’d like to re-frame and move on from. What about you? What will you learn from your past?
The same situation can raise different feelings in people. Think about the different ways others have responded to similar situations. Why do you react in the way you do? Think also if this reaction is in response to a particular person? Is it the situation or the person who triggered this unhelpful reaction in you?

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