How to Learn From Life Lessons
How to Learn From Life Lessons
Building a Lesson Bank
Ever since February 20, 2016, the day that forever changed my life, I have made an effort to document almost every experience I have had in which I learn something. I don’t share all of the documentations and the majority of them are written privately in my personal journals, but I always take a moment to deconstruct experiences in my life that I would consider lessons.
So what do I call this practice of documentation you ask? I call it my lesson bank. It’s pretty simple. I have created a literary bank which contains stories, experiences, events both personal and non-personal, mistakes, triumphs, hardships and so on, where I keep track of things I have learned, for my own reflection and perhaps someone else’s reflection some day in the form of a legacy.
When I turn to my lesson bank I turn inward.
I ask myself these questions:
What was the situation?
How did I respond?
What was the result?
What could I have done differently given the opportunity?
What did I learn?
What is one positive thing in my life that happened that would not have happened had this situation not occurred?
Here is an example of one of my lessons.
When my fiance was killed suddenly in an avalanche, at the age of thirty years old, I was left with a mountain of debt. I couldn’t afford my mortgage, our debt repayment plan was impossible, and the income I received from him every month disappeared instantly. We didn’t have any of our life insurance in order and because we weren’t married and hadn’t been living together for three years (according to our provincial law) I wasnt entitled to his estate.
I went from a blushing bride to be to a heartbroken widow with no money. All of my fiancés money went to his Mother who was likely the last person he would have wanted it to go; but I digress.
I was shattered, angry, frustrated and defeated and spent many months analyzing the situation negatively rather than accepting that it was what it was and there was nothing my anger could do to change it.
One year later I had quit my job as a police officer and moved back to my home town where I moved into my parents basement. I had been recently enrolled in University for my B.A in psychology and I could no longer afford the lifestyle I was living with Nick in the big city. I packed up what little I had and went home.
A few short months after that I met a man who is now the love of my life. He has two beautiful daughters and together we had a son.
When I look back at the amount of time I spent consuming alcohol to mask my anger and frustration, and the little that did for my recovery, I am amazed I came out of it alive. On top of the death of my fiance I was having to live with the betrayal of his Mother.
I often found myself going back to this and feeling so hurt. It would change my mood in an instant and I would think about all the ways Nick’s death may have been a bit easier had I not been financially strained and dependent on my parents. It made me so angry.
It didn’t take long before I changed the way I looked at my situation. As a result of reading a lot of self help books and attending weekly therapy I learned to change the question from “what would have been easier had I received the money”, to, “what would I have missed out on had I received that money”.
Let me be clear, my fiancés life insurance and estate would have afforded me the ability to live quite comfortably for a very long time. I would have continued on the path of repaying our debt and I would have been able ot pay for all of my education just as we had planned.
However, had I receieved that money I would have traveled solo, spent many months away from my family, and I never would have met the man I am with now. Had I never met him, I never would have become a step Mom and I never would have gave birth to my beautiful little boy who we named after my late fiancé.
You see life is a funny thing. It’s not always fair and sometimes nothing makes sense in the moment. The process of seeing the silver lining is not easy and it doesn’t always work for everyone, and in some circumstances; there just isn’t one. However, if you can shape your story in a way that outlines the blessings instead of the shortcomings it makes things slightly more bearable.
Like I said, sometimes you can’t find a silver lining and that is ok but if you can; embrace it.
Sometimes what you are going through can’t possibly be worse but if it can; embrace it.
Sometimes nothing good can come from a particular situation and that is just a matter of fact, but if something has; try to focus on that because sometimes life is tragic and we need to garner all the blessings we can as fuel to help us during those times.
By having a lesson bank I am able to physically see and read the meaningful experiences I have had, the hardships I have overcome and the lessons I have learned. By having a lesson bank I am able to turn to it for guidance and a gentle reminder that this too shall pass and if I conscioulsy work on my mindset and my perception of what is happening; I may be able to get through it with a little bit more ease.
“Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories” - unknown
What are some lessons you would place in your lesson bank if you had one?
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