How to Reframe Difficult Experiences with One Simple Question
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a client, who was second-guessing some of her past decisions. Talking through it, she recognised that she made the best choices she could have at the time. As we talked about how to reframe difficult experiences, I posed the question:
[Tweet "What if everything that happened up to now was perfect preparation for what’s coming next?"]
I've found that when I think about my own life in this context, I feel calmer, stronger, more grounded, and more at peace with my past. Adverse experiences and challenges stop being a weight to carry, a sign of brokenness, and transform into evidence that I have the ability to be creative, capable, and not just survive, but thrive.
So, what if?
- What if that bully was perfect preparation for facing the critics of your latest book?
- What if that angry, aggressive parent was perfect preparation for having amazing boundaries with unreasonable people?
- What if that snarky, critical mentor was perfect preparation for being able to forge your own path and shrug off other people’s bad juju?
- What if that rejection was perfect preparation for being able to be the most self-expressed version of yourself you can be, knowing that whatever happens, you will absolutely survive?
- What if your traumatic experiences were the perfect preparation for being able to empower people to deal with their own experiences in the future?
- What if that horrible, gut-wrenching, god-awful break-up was the perfect preparation for forming a loving, supportive relationship?
- What if that betrayal was perfect preparation for heeding your gut instinct in the future?
Dealing with this stuff is not easy. Some of it is part of life, some of it should never, ever have happened in the first place. By encouraging you to think about these things in this way, I’m not condoning them, saying they’re OK, saying you should forgive and forget, etc. etc.
When you reframe difficult experiences, it's not about other people, it's about you.
We are dealt the cards we’re dealt, either through our own choices or through other people’s actions. Once we’re dealt those cards, we have a choice: wallow in self-pity, lament life’s unfairness, and reside in resentment, bitterness and anger…
Or, ask ourselves: What if everything that happened up to now was perfect preparation for what’s coming next?
Next time you notice yourself thinking about or experiencing a difficult situation, try this question on for size: how does it feel to reframe difficult experiences in this way?
(Hat tip to Brooke Castillo for this powerful question)
Image: Grégoire Hervé-Bazin via Unsplash