Turning Bad Experiences Into Growth Encounters – Part One

We had a look at bad experiences yesterday and saw three basic truths. Today we want to look at how to turn a bad experience into a growth encounter.

Someone once said, “Experience isn’t really the best teacher but it sure does serve as the best excuse for not trying to do the same silly thing again.” If you want your bad experiences to keep you not only from doing the same silly things but to also lead to significant personal growth and maturity, I would suggest you consider embracing the following five actions…

1> Choose a positive life stance

“Life stance” is a term used to describe people’s overall frame of reference – the set of attitudes, assumptions, and expectations people hold about themselves, other people, and the world in general. It comprises, for instance, people’s attitudes towards money, assumptions about their health, and expectations for their children’s future. The product of any person’s life stance is their overall way of looking at things: whether they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic, cheerful or gloomy, trusting or suspicious, friendly or reserved, brave or timid, generous or stingy, giving or selfish. If you can maintain a positive life stance, you put yourself in the best position to manage bad experience and turn them into positive growth encounters. 

Family therapy pioneer and author Virginia Satir observed, “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.” You cannot control much of what happens to you in life. However, you can control your attitude. And you can choose to rise above your circumstances and refuse to allow negative experiences to undermine who you are and what you believe.

You need to adopt a positive life stance because it gives you the best chance to succeed while putting you in the best position to help others succeed. To develop this daily mind-set you need to focus and think…

        • Life is filled with good and bad
        • Some of the good and bad I can’t control – that’s life
        • Some of the good and bad will find me
        • If I have a positive life stance the good and bad will become better
        • If I have a negative life stance the good and bad will become worse
        • Therefore I choose a positive life stance

To a large degree in life, you get what you expect – not always, but most of the time. So why would I want to expect the worst? 

2> Embrace and develop your creativity

There’s a story about a chicken farmer whose land was flooded nearly every spring. He didn’t want to give up his farm and move, but when the water backed up onto his land and flooded his chicken coops, it was always a struggle to get his chickens to higher ground. Some years he couldn’t move fast enough and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After the worse spring he had ever experienced and losing his entire flock, he came into the farmhouse and told his wife, “I’ve had it. I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.”

His wife replied, “Buy ducks.”

The people who make the most out of bad experiences are the ones who find creative way to meet them, like the farmer’s wife in the story. They see possibilities within their problems.

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I believe that creativity begins at the end of your comfort zone as well. When you meet the pain of bad experiences, creativity gives you the opportunity to turn the pain into gain. The secret to doing that is to use the energy that comes from either adrenaline or anger and use it to solve problems and learn lessons.

When you have had a bad experience, instead of letting it discourage you or make you angry, try to find a way to let it prompt your creativity.

More next time…