How to Manage (and Grow Through) Bad Experiences

By , May 22, 2013 5:41 pm

iStock_000006322263Small“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

~ Virginia Satir

Life is messy and uncomfortable at times. Things don’t always go to plan. We encounter bad experiences as well as good ones.

For example, you might get criticism from someone that makes you feel raw and vulnerable. The pain feels so real it hurts you to the core. Perhaps you can’t let go of it in your mind, you keep replaying it over and over.

When you’re stuck in the middle of a problem it’s hard to see it as an opportunity. It’s easy to wallow, say woe is me and keep replaying the story of just how bad things really are. You may react to the situation in one of the following ways:

  • Explode with anger
  • Get frustrated
  • Shrink inside yourself
  • Get caught in the drama (…and jump on the pity bus!)
  • Ignore it
  • Cry
  • Blame someone else
  • Freak out and panic
  • Become anxious and obsessed with worry
  • Fear (of failure or being exposed)
  • Discouraged and want to quit
  • Want to run away, change your name and start again!

Why do we react this way?

…Because the pain feels so real, it makes you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and if you give it power then it will stop you dead in your tracks.

I came across this quote recently:

“Every problem introduces a person to himself.” ~ John McDonnell.

I LOVE this because I believe whatever you are going through in your life you ALWAYS have the opportunity to grow through it and from it. Every experience unlocks a little more about who you are and how you show up in the world.

Here’s how I see it…

It’s ALL about your attitude towards the situation and how you manage it and pain it creates.

Let me explain some more…

Pain is a great teacher – The pain that you feel when something goes wrong teaches you about where you are just now and who you are in that moment. It’s like looking at yourself through a mirror – It’s a gateway to a deeper level of self-awareness.  If you can hold up a mirror (or have a coach hold it up for you) there are some great lessons to be learned. How you handle the experience you are having defines whom you become and influences the ultimate outcome.

You are NOT alone – The truth is that life is messy! Yes! Shit happens! Life is full of ups and downs. We all experience both negative and positive times. You can’t avoid it – It’s just a natural part of life and an essential part of being human. No one enjoys or wants to have a bad experience. Know that this moment will pass and you will move through it and beyond it.

Lead your way through – How we handle the problem defines us and determines whether we settle and survive or create and thrive in our lives. You have two choices here: 1) Allow it to hold you back and limit you OR 2) Allow yourself to learn through it and grow. People who are successful often talk about a difficult time and how this was the pivotal moment on their development.

Own it don’t deflect it – Don’t become the victim: woe is me! Take responsibility for moving through and making change. Some people cling on to their story replaying it for everyone to hear. It becomes their excuse for staying stuck. Look for the opportunity in every situation.

Reframe the situation – As a coach, I constantly work with clients who have setbacks and negative experiences. My role is to help them reframe their problems and transition through their pain using it as a catalyst for success. How can you use this situation to unlock your creativity and find a solution? Here are a few prompts:

  • What is the problem?
  • What am I currently thinking about it?
  • How does it make me feel (what emotions are associated with it?)?
  • What am I learning?
  • What do I want the outcome to be?
  • What options are available to me?
  • What support do I need from others?
  • What’s your first step?

Remember there is no destination. Start from where you are right now and see every experience (good or bad) as a place where you can make positive change and growth.

“Keep Going – Keep Flowing – Keep Growing!”

5 Responses to “How to Manage (and Grow Through) Bad Experiences”

  1. Al C says:

    Love it Elaine, great piece, fantastic article and one most if not everyone can identify with.

  2. Elaine says:

    Thanks for stopping by Al! :-)

  3. Nikki C says:

    I love this, it resonates for me and for my team; I plan to share your golden nugget, if I may. Thank YOU!

  4. elaine says:

    Hi Nikki – I’m glad that this resonates for you. Feel free to share just printout the post with my web link on there so they know the source of the article.:-)

  5. ubey says:

    That was really inspiring Elaine.I really enjoyed it.I have learnt some life lessons from your post

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