You might not want to hear this but there’s usually a lesson in the things that hurt us. I say usually because as much as I believe many things happen for a reason, I also believe that some things just suck.
For now, let’s look at the “usuallys,” and let’s also look at something that’s in the past. If there’s one thing I know at my core to be true it’s that we need to process hurts as they happen, and save the lessons for the future.
So start by calling a past event to mind that in the moment, felt hurtful. Maybe it was a challenge with a coworker, maybe you felt like you let someone down, or maybe someone spoke to you unkindly.
Got your situation ready? Great!
Here’s a simple way to start to see the lesson that life might be trying to teach you:
- Visualize the hurtful event as specifically as possible. What were you wearing? Where were you? Who was there? Try to clearly see yourself in that past situation.
- Once you’ve got your event visualized, remember what you said and did and how you acted. Take a breath or two here and give yourself a moment of self-kindness.
- Ask your present self two questions: Is this feeling familiar? How would I handle this situation today?
The first question (Is this familiar?) will help you notice if the hurtful situation is a pattern in your life. Maybe you gravitate toward folks who don’t always treat you with kindness. Maybe you see a pattern in feeling that you let people down. Maybe the challenge with the coworker feels eerily similar to a childhood situation. Whatever you discover is key to the lesson. We don’t tend to see our own patterns unless we specifically look for them. Patterns are a big neon sign pointing you toward a lesson you can learn.
The second question (How would I handle this situation today?) lets you approach the hurtful scenario from a calm place. When you’re in the moment it’s difficult to make a calm decision, but once you examine something that’s already happened you can choose actions carefully. Practice this one a few times, especially if you identified a pattern when you asked yourself the first question. The more you practice your desired response when you’re calm, the more likely you’ll be able to make small changes, and react differently in the future.
Play with these 3 steps and get curious – particularly if you identified a pattern. Let your calm present self be your teacher and use the lessons underneath your past hurts to help shape your future.