Mentoring Article Series #6
This is the sixth of a series of articles on a series of factors that may potentially cause long term pain in a person’s life. This is one of the most common factor that everyone experience and the impact it has on our life is deep and painful.
“What does it mean by Past Experience?”
Many of us, though not all, would believe that life is a journey. Past experience are actually the accumulation of different experiences from both good and bad throughout this journey and it shapes our meanings and values about life. Past experience are vital to the development and growth of a person and it has deep impact on the shaping of personality, thinking patterns, feelings, behavior and habit of every individual. According to Merriam-Webster definition, experience is an observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge and skills.
“How many categories of Past Experience?”
There are generally three types of past experience:
1. Pleasant or Good – these are the good things that we experience in everyday life, such as you found the love of your life; someone praise you for your hard work; you have achieve a very good result in the exam; a job promotion; new business venture; enjoying a holiday trip; having a sumptuous meal, etc.
2. Unpleasant or Bad – these are experience that give us unpleasant feelings, such as conflict with others; breaking up in a relationship; life’s setbacks; someone close to us has just passed away, etc.
3. Neutral, not feeling good nor bad about it – these experience are not that colorful or memorable in our life since they don’t make much impact, or at least, not during that time of event. Examples are brushing your teeth in the morning, reading newspaper, having an ordinary breakfast, or driving to work.
“Why Understanding Past Experience is Important?”
Every experience that we have gone through leaves a mark in our life, whether it’s good or bad, and some of them could be exceptionally unforgettable, doesn’t ‘matter whether we like it or not. By understanding the various past experiences which we have personally experienced, we have better knowledge on why we behave in certain ways, why we talk in certain manners, why we fear or avoid certain things or situations, why we feel in certain ways, and why we live in certain patterns.
In relation to past events, which in turn shaped our past experience and it definitely influences our future experiences, we should be much more aware on how we think about them and how we deal with them. But before this article moves on to the details, simply as a reminder, the emphasis has always been placed on the negative impact it has on a person’s life and how it leads a person into living a painful life.
The pleasant past experience is always a happy thing that we long for, and people always look for ways to re-experience such wonderful feelings. For example, many of us visit the same restaurant or café, ordering the same favorite food that we love so much because we wish to recapture the pleasant sensation that we have experienced. Another example, a man had an exciting extramarital affair with another women (even though he knows it’s wrong) and continue longing for that short but adrenaline pumping experience, and in doing so, continues to be on the look out for a suitable women for another episode of affair, without realizing the action may cause disaster to his present family. Another example is an old couple where one of them passes away and the other living couple kept thinking and re-collecting past memories of good old times when they were still together, which then leads the person into agony and deep sorrow. When the desire for the past pleasant experience has reached a climatic high, people are capable of doing extraordinary things to get what they want, and sometimes these mentality and actions may drive a person into extreme or disaster in life. That out-of-control condition eventually leads a person into a painful life. This section deals with unwilling heart to depart with past pleasant experience, as well as the desire for more pleasant experience. A simple reminder here, by looking back at past pleasant experience is not a sin nor it is bad for us, but the persistent effort to cling on it, and the mentality of wanting more is the key to painful life.
The unpleasant past experience may potentially develop into avoidance, hatred, anger and fear in people’s life. It has extremely strong impact on humans as we all dislike unpleasant feelings and experience. Some of us may do everything we can to avoid experiencing it again. For example, the boy who had bad experience growing up in a poor family would do everything he could to earn money (doesn’t matter whether it is legal or illegal) to move out from the deprived social environment and condition. Another example, a women who has suffered from a traumatic car accident and as a result, became paralyzed. She may develop various psychological problems such as anxiety or depression which brings long term impact on her health, her life and long term happiness. Another example is when a boy who was bullied since childhood has developed a mentality to be strong and ended up becoming a bully himself when he is an adult.
All these past experience, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, leaves a deep impression in our life and may potentially cause us to live on “with it” for a long time, until we are able to consciously stop it.
“What Can You Do To Overcome It?”
Personally, I think it has to do with our mind and how we look at past experience. We can learn more, improving our exposures, listen to those wise individuals who have many interesting past experience to share. Reading from books and getting tips from professional mentors or coaches will definitely be helpful. Learning how to interpret past experience in the right perspective is the key to long term happiness.
In the end, the ultimate goal of all these learning are to develop a mind that:
1) Do not cling or being locked down on continuous and relentless pursuit for pleasant experience, especially those from the past that we still hope to re-live them. Extreme cases are referred as addictive mentality and behavior.
2) Do not become the slave of unpleasant past experiences. This is to release us from becoming trap in the vicious cycle of negative feelings or thinking. Extreme cases lead to three different problematic mentality and behavior: “avoidance”, “numbness” and “retaliation”, which are all negatively affect our life.
The final point is, over the years, I have seen many people who suffered and live a painful life without realizing that their past experience played a big role in shaping who they are today. We should all stop becoming an addict to some past pleasant experience and refrain from becoming the slave of our past bad experience, and start living today. By engaging conscious and mindful thinking and feelings in our daily life, we make conscious and mindful decisions every second in our life. With that, our life changes, our life’s experience change, and hopefully in the end, we get to live a truly happy life the way we wish for.
[Photo’s Title: ”Past Experience“] Past experience made who we are today. They become our past memories and it shapes our future, so be mindful of how we perceive them.
(CLIPS Management ©️ All Rights Reserved)