I don’t know anyone who likes pain; however, good management of bad experiences leads to growth. How do you respond to bad experiences – explode in anger? detach yourself? shrink into yourself emotionally? ignore it? Each time we encounter these experiences, we get to know ourselves a little better. Pain will either cause us to stop in our tracks OR we’ll make decisions we would like put off, deal with issues we would rather not face and make changes that make us uncomfortable. We are prompted to face who and where we are. How we handle the pain defines who we become. John tells a story of a woman who lost her husband in the tragedy of 9/11. I know of another couple who lost their baby girl in a drowning accident. How these people dealt with these incredibly painful losses are lessons, I feel, we could all learn from. Failing Forward, another book by John Maxwell, helps people deal with pain in a positive rather than negative manner and how to use bad experiences as stepping stones for success.
Life is like a see-saw … full of ups and downs. Have you heard the statement, “Some days you’re the pigeon, other days you’re the statue?” I especially like the rain when I’m the statue.
The most successful people in life point to the hard times in their lives as key points in their journey of development. It’s in learning how to play a poor hand well.
We all have pain that can help us grow. Maybe some of these will be familiar to you:
- The pain of inexperience/immaturity – learning patience
- The pain of incompetence – finding our own special gifts
- The pain of disappointment over something wonderful not materializing such as an adoption
- The pain of conflict and hard decisions – sometimes it really hurts when deciding to do right rather than easy or wrong. Wanting everyone to be happy just doesn’t work. I had to learn how to compromise.
- The pain of change – starting over and usually compounded by inexperience and incompetence
- The pain of bad health – good eating habits and daily exercise definitely alleviate much of this
- The pain of financial loss – making bad investments taught me how to research better
- The pain of relationship losses – leaving friends behind who would rather be mediocre was tough
- The pain of not being “Number One” – learning humility
- The pain of traveling and being separated from family and friends – learning to value relationships
- The pain of responsibility – learning self discipline, how to prioritize and the toughest one (for me): learning to say ‘no’
- Use a positive life stance (overall frame of reference) – set of attitudes, assumption and expectations people hold about themselves, others and the world in general. It’s an overall way of looking at things; for example: attitudes about money, assumptions about health and expectations of children. Are you optimistic or pessimistic … cheerful or gloomy … trusting or suspicious … friendly or reserved … brave or timid … generous or stingy … giving or selfish? Using a positive outlook helps tremendously turning a bad experience into positive growth.
- Embrace and develop creativity – I grew up with the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” which came in very handy when money was really tight. Not that I invented anything. I just got really good at using other things in place of store bought. I use clothes pins for a lot more than hanging clothes, etc. I learned how to sew and to how to use a sewing machine. There’s a sense of self-satisfaction.
- Embrace the value of bad experiences. Where there is no struggle, there is no progress. Think about a butterfly. I think about being pregnant and have to say labor truly is a bad experience but the birth of my children far exceeded the pain.
- Make good changes after learning from bad experiences. Having a severe health issue such as a heart attack would make you take a serious look at eating and exercise habits and do something about them. The heart of change is in emotion. Fight or flight – only one letter makes the difference of who we become. Personally, I believe all people are worth their fight to become positive. We need to remember that our choices will lead to the pain of self discipline or the pain of regret.
- Take responsibility for your life and the choices you make.