Many of you have heard the quote, "People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." I have always loved this quote, as it highlights the concept that even the most short lived encounters or relationships, have something to teach us, and something for us to learn from. Even situations that seem wholly negative, and that upset us, actually have a lesson in them, if we allow ourselves to step back and think about what that might be. Many times these lessons come from unexpected sources, or sources we were not aware of at the time. If we are willing to stop and think about the reason something happened, why we were hurt by someone, or why something someone did in passing made us feel uneasy, we can often find that message buried underneath.
1. The person that you dated who treated you terribly and made you feel bad about yourself. While it may sounds like there is nothing about that situation to learn from, there is actually a great deal. You can learn to count on your own view of yourself over anyone else. You can also use this as an opportunity to further define what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship, what you are worth, and what you are looking for in the future.
2. Failure is one of the most important lessons we can learn from. None of us will succeed all the time, but what we choose to do with failing is what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful. If you choose to use the failure as a lesson in where you went wrong, and are open to hearing why you did not do well, you can use this to readjust and rework your project or idea until you are prosperous at it.
3. Suffering a personal embarrassment or humiliation. How you handle yourself in these moments is a wonderful lesson in strength and character. It might remind you what you are made of, and it might even serve as an example to others. Everyone is going through something, and this is actually true of the people who made you feel this way as well. If we are able to remember that everyone is going through something, and that we know the truth about ourselves, we may learn that we have most strength and integrity than we knew.
4. Listen to the words of children. Children speak the truth, the whole unfiltered truth. While sometimes the things they say are funny, and other times the things they say might sting, consider the message. Is there something to be learned from what they have blurted out, or are saying? If so, take it to heart and learn from it. It can be easy to be hurt at times from things that are said in innocence, keep in mind that this was their intention, not to hurt you.
5. Working on something that does not inspire you. This may seem like a strange choice, or confusing as to what lesson could be taken from it. We will all have projects and jobs in our lives that do not inspire us, and do not align with our interests and goals. Use this experience to further define what it is that you want to do. What does create passion within you? What should you be doing? The lesson here is that you may not have asked yourself these tough questions, or been motivated to explore them, had it not been for work you did not want to do.
6. Starting your day on a negative note. This can be due to rushing around, doing work in the morning, or spending your time doing something that is not relaxing. Remember that feeling, and be conscious of the impact it has on the rest of your day. Once you make the connection that how you start your day influences the rest of your day, you will be motivated and inclined to change your morning routine to start the day off right. The calmer and better you start your day, the more this tone will be carried throughout it.
7. Having self-doubts and negative thinking. While this may seem like a strange thing to say in terms of lessons to be learned, and an even stranger place to learn them, it can be valuable. If we are able to take a step back and look at our own negative ways of thinking, at our lack of belief in ourselves, we can ask what evidence we have, or if there is anything to support it. Most often the answer is that there is not concrete proof to support it, often just the opposite, and the lesson we can learn is to stop and ask ourselves what the reality is when these negative thoughts start to creep in.
8. Settling for less then you deserve. This can refer to relationships, jobs, salary, or friendships. We all are guilty of settling for less than we deserve in one of these areas at some point in our lives. The great lesson here is the gifts of introspection and motivation. We can use these negative experiences to define what it is that we do merit, as well as to motivate us to look for situations that meet those ideals. It can be looking for a relationship of an equal, or searching for a job with pay and responsibilities that are in line with what we are capable of.
9. Calvin and Hobbes once said," If good things lasted forever, would we appreciate how precious they are?" This might sounds like a silly source, but the thought and the lesson are undeniable. If everything went our way all the time, if all good things lasted forever, we would likely never learn to deeply appreciate what we have or had. So we learn to appreciate the good things while we have them, and hope for new things to come our way, as we know they are possible.
10. When something terrible befalls you, keeping in mind that it could be worse. I am not saying that we have to compare ourselves to others, or invalidate the way that we are feeling or hurting. However, if we are able to take even the worst situation that has happened to us, and ask ourselves, "could this be worse?" the answer is usually "yes." If it could be worse, we have room to grow from, and the ability to start to pull our way up and out of this situation in search of a better one.