Experience has the ability to help us in the most trying of times. So, why do so many of us not make use of it in the way we should?
Personal experience is just that; it’s yours. No one can ever take away your personal experiences from you. They can’t tell you what your memory of that experience was or how you perceived it at the moment. You see, our memories are made up of our experiences and often consist of our interpretation of said experiences. This is where things can get tricky. Have you ever had a memorable experience with your friend, but you both remember the details of it entirely differently? I think we’ve all been there before, and it sure is weird.
Sometimes, you feel so sure of specific events that occurred during an experience, just for your friend to tell you their perspective, which sends yours into a vortex of thought. Now you’re not sure whose interpretation was correct. Is it possible both can be? Sure, to an extent. But our perception of a sequence of events is largely based on our upbringing and the experiences our parents or those close to us went through. If you’re taught as a child not to like something, you’ll most likely associate a negative connotation with whatever it is you were told not to. Partly due to the trust you give your loved ones and because you don’t know any better.
Often, interpretations of situations are passed down through generations. Meaning you’re likely to react how your parents would in any given situation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it stunts your growth. It’s precisely the reason why you must forge your own experiences outside of others in this lifetime. Because you need to find yourself and figure out what reactions work best for you in those scenarios. On an individual level, you may have different needs than those close to you and know yourself better than anyone ever will. That means someone else’s response to an experience may be different from yours, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean either one of you is right, per se. But it means each of you saw the sunset with a different lens attached to the camera.
You can interpret something very different than another person. One of you could very well be right, and the other, wrong. However, much of the time, experiences are subjective. Of course, if 99 out of 100 people saw a car crash into another one, it probably happened, and that one person who didn’t see it could be delusional. But it’s also possible that the person who didn’t see the accident stood behind a telephone pole and couldn’t see the accident in their field of view. The point being, there’s always the exception.
Yet, as we discuss our personal experiences, we must mention utilizing them. After all, aren’t we all here to learn from our mistakes and capitalize on them? We like to think so, yeah. But everyone doesn’t take advantage of their mishaps. In this way, I mean, the more we experience life, the better we should get at it. There will always be unforeseen circumstances in life, they’re constants like mother nature and father time, but we should lean into our experiences. Life is full of lengthy, arduous decisions, and they never really stop. Truly, much of your life is determined by decision-making. Therefore, we should aim to put our personal experiences to use.
It’s like throughout your career when you ask for a higher salary in your next position. Why do you ask for more? Well, simply put, it’s because of your experience, and the same should ring true for every other part of life. Your experiences matter and can be grueling at times, so you must lean into them to reap the benefits of having gone through them in the first place. Learn from your decisions. Don’t continue to make the same ones over and over while expecting a different result. To be different, you have to think differently. It’s best when you approach your decision-making methodically, taking into account every experience you’ve ever had, good or bad, and how they’ve shaped you into the person you are today, where you’re able to make a conscious, sound decision in this very moment.
Use don’t abuse
We all go through various strenuous periods in our lives in which we fall. But we can soften the landing of our falls by capitalizing off of our personal experiences and using them to avoid new ones. Additionally, we can use those experiences to appreciate the peaks. However, as much as we should use our past decisions to better ourselves, don’t ever consider your experiences so profound you stop having them. We learn by experience, and our entire lives are a learning journey that never stops. Use your experiences, don’t abuse them. The last thing you want to do is think you’ve got it all figured out and stop learning from your decisions. Because if that’s the case, life will humble you sooner than later.
Instead, take the wins and losses, and make a mental note to remember both. Remembering only positive or negative experiences throughout your life won’t be helpful. Understanding your past negative experiences aids you in leaning into your new, positive ones. While coming to know your positive experiences aids you in avoiding negative ones. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and the sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be. We can use our personal experiences for many things. To relate and build relationships with others, grow, lessen the impact of our falls while appreciating the peaks, as a timeline, and perhaps most importantly, as a compass, to lead us in the right direction on our respective journeys.