A Simple Technique to Make Sure All of Your Bad Experiences Become a Source of Growth

09/05/2016 10:33 am ET Updated Sep 05, 2016
Dr Lisa Christiansen

By design, our lives aren’t carved out to be one long stretch of bliss.

At some point, we get to taste the bitter side of life—we experience misfortunes, heartbreaks, failure. We make mistakes, we suffer the loss of loved ones. This is a given.

What is not a given is the way we interpret these occurrences and respond to them.

Do we act like the whole world has crumbled down on us, waggle in self pity, apportion blames and traumatize ourselves?

Or do we try to get past these inclinations by finding the higher purpose behind these adversities and making them a source of growth?

We’d all like to do the latter, but somehow find ourselves always resorting to the former.

This is because we’ve unconsciously leave it up to our perceptions to dictate our actions; Okay this is a bad thing, it can’t be good. So we just respond in the way we condition ourselves to respond to bad things.

We allow the ocean of life to take us to the bottom and drown us, when we could have easily flapped our hands and legs and reach a shore of our choosing.

It’s true that perceptions are our mirrors to the world. Without them we’re like empty shells, we have no opinion, nothing has meaning.

But is this a good reason to allow them to rule us?

The truth is, we can control the meaning we attach to any occurrence, irrespective of what our prior perceptions are.

Let me give you an example:

Death is generally perceived as a bad thing, a loss, an occasion for mourning. But there are people who chose to see it instead as a transition— a passing to a better, more enjoyable world where there is no suffering.

And they’re the better for it.

Just imagine a death without wailing or sorrow, just silent prayers for the soul of a loved one to make an easy transition.

This is a good use of a technique called reframing

You can do it too...

No matter how terrible a situation seems, there is always something good we can take out of it; an aspect we’ve not considered; reasons we’ve not exploit. All we need is to develop a flexibility of the mind, and give our thoughts room for other possibilities.

The Ability to reframe isn’t some fancy trait that some of us have while some of us don’t. It involves only an ability to think and to direct our thoughts.

Rather than concentrating on all the worst reasons why a bad thing happened, why not channel that energy to think of positive ones instead, for a change? Then lets see if your bad thing remains a bad thing for long.

I know you might want to say: but this isn’t easy for me.

Yet if you’ve ever sold an old scrap of car which you know its engine sucks, you didn’t forget to play up its positive aspect to the buyer. In fact you concentrated solely on them because you wanted a good price. You didn’t hammer endlessly on the buyer: but its engine sucks you know, oh its engine really sucks!

Because you know that wouldn’t do you any good.

This is an ability we all have inbuilt in us. We just don’t use it for the most important reasons.

But if we can do it for an old scrap of car, or even for a scrap of anything, why not for our life’s experiences? Just like we want a good price, we also want a good life.

Reframing is an invaluable technique, especially for those of us whose natural inclination is to think thunder and brimstone when see any form of cloud.

Over to you. What negative event have you ever reframed into a positive experience? or are you instead a negative reframer—do you reframe positive experience into negative ones?

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