Good, Bad or Learning?
Good experiences. Bad experiences. Learning experiences. Do you know the difference?
My son is in the process of moving back to the Hampton Roads area. He's been gone for about three years I think. Now that he and Jess have the baby, they have decided that it would be best to move closer to their families where they will have a support system. I spoke with my son last night and he said that he finally feels like "this nightmare" of living in Maryland is finally going to be over and he is about to wake up. I stopped him right there and said he shouldn't classify this experience as a nightmare. On the contrary, he moved to Maryland so he could be with Jess. He got to be with the woman he loves everyday and now they have a beautiful baby together. That, in my opinion is not a nightmare. My point to him was that he shouldn't view it as a bad experience but as a learning experience.
That of course, got me to thinking even more. Are there really any bad experiences? Of course, bad things happen to us but it is my feeling that if something good comes from that experience than it's not bad at all -- it's good. Also, if you learn something from the experience than it is not bad -- it's a learning experience.
I'll give you some examples from my own life.
My first marriage. I got married in my mid-twenties after dating someone for about two years. The marriage ended in five months. Why? Because he was a bigamist. I had the marriage annulled once I found out that he never divorced his first wife before marrying me. That, of course was devastating. On top of that, I was pregnant at the time of the annulment. Bad experience? Let's take a closer look. Did anything good come from that experience? My amazing son came from that experience. My son is the kindest, gentlest, most loving person I know. He has a love for family that is unmatched. I don't know how I got so lucky to have given birth to and raised this person into the man he is today. And now he is a father himself and has blessed me even further with a granddaughter. So, had I not gone through that devastating experience, my son and granddaughter would not be here. Did I learn anything? Hell yes. The greatest lesson that I learned from that experience was that you need to pay attention to red flags especially when they are waving all around you. Trust your gut. That was the lesson. So, on the surface, it would seem that my first marriage was a bad experience. I choose to view it as a learning experience.
My second marriage. I got married for the second time in my late twenties. We met, he proposed after five months and we got married five months after that and immediately moved to another state. The marriage lasted a total of seven years. Not as devastating as the first one but I have to admit that divorce is never fun. Bad experience? Not necessarily. I gave birth to my daughter during this marriage. My daughter is beautiful, funny and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. God decided to bless me a second time with an amazing child. Today she is a school teacher and everyday she is helping to change the lives of at-risk students. The lives of these children are being impacted by my daughter in a positive way. Without that bad second marriage and terrible divorce, those kids wouldn't be blessed with my daughter. What did I learn? Don't marry someone because they are cute and fun -- dig deeper. Find someone who shares goals and values.
See how this works? Something good came out of these situations and I was able to learn very valuable lessons.
One last example: quitting my job to be an entrepreneur. I quit my "good" job in 2015 because I was convinced that I could work full time for myself as a health coach/personal trainer. Long story short: I couldn't. I'm not ashamed to say that I do not possess the entrepreneurial gene. It took two years and a mountain of debt to understand that. Again, on the surface this may seem like a bad experience but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in the world. Even though my business was not successful, I did have the opportunity to work with some amazing women. I helped several women lose weight and get healthier with a common sense approach. I had to go through that in order to realize that it wasn't for me. Otherwise, I would have spent my life wondering.
Don't get me wrong, I know that some bad experiences, are just bad experiences. I got into a car accident many years ago, that wasn't my fault and my car was brand new and had to be in the shop for several weeks. There was no lesson there and nothing good came out of it. That was just a bad experience. Another time, my car was stolen from a parking garage when I was out to dinner with my sister. Nothing good came from that and I learned nothing. That is a bad experience. However, I honestly believe that more times than not, you can turn a bad experience into a learning experience and if you try really hard, it may even be that it was a good experience. Try it.