This is the second to last in this series on how to make sense of your difficult life experiences, grief, and disguised grief.
As we continue to explore all aspects of grief, I want to speak on the importance of “inquiring more deeply”, or better put, understanding the impact of your experiences across time.
Consider that your life experiences exist for your overall growth and evolution as a person. Rather than asking yourself:
“Why did this happen to me?” consider asking “Why did this happen for me?”
The nature of your answers may differ depending on which question you ask.
Your focus here is to think about the impact, influence, and meaning these life experiences had on you or for you when they occurred and how these events have shaped your life.
When you go through difficult and painful experiences in life, you often develop beliefs, hold attitudes, and make decisions about your life that came about because of the pain.
Sometimes those beliefs, attitudes, and decisions cause you even more pain, beyond the experiences themselves.
What meaning did you attach to these experiences?
How did that change how you viewed yourself, your character, your capabilities, or your deservedness?
Did you, for instance, withdraw, stop trusting others, or start behaving in a rude, mean, or aggressive manner?
Did you become more thoughtful and kinder?
Did you look at how you used your time differently?
As you consider the questions that follow, simply be an observer, absent judgment. Be gentle with yourself. The key questions relative to all of these aspects are:
– Who did I become, because of what I went through, at the time of the event, and as I aged?
Consider first, the impact these experiences had on you as you grew up – as a child or youth – and second, the impact those early experiences had on you as an adult.
– How did the experiences impact you across time?
Did your perspective change for better or worse? Let’s approach understanding your experiences from one more angle.
Here, then, are the kinds of questions you want to ask yourself:
– How did these experiences change the attitudes you hold?
– How did these experiences change what you believe?
– How did these experiences change the decisions you made?
As you think about the impact and meaning these experiences had on you, think about what positive things you can learn from each one.
If we can glean a positive learning from painful life experiences, we begin to sculpt our character and life in important ways.
And again just some gentle encouragement to consider journaling your thoughts.
Dr. Joan Rosenberg