In college, I had a friend come to me and apologize because he thought I had feelings for the girl he liked.
He obviously wasn’t feeling really positive towards me at that time, but we were going to have to work together so he was the bigger man and came to clear the air between us.
His experience was that he had said “hi” to me in the hallway at school and I hadn’t responded. I have no recollection of that encounter.
And the girl?
I wasn’t interested in her, I was pursuing 2 other girls at the time, while secretly holding out for a third. (I married that 3rd girl, BTW, and he married the girl he liked.)
My friend Jim Feriera taught us to ask
“What are the learning opportunities here?”
In every situation, good or bad, we can always ask that question. I wrote a previous blogpost that became a chapter called “you might as well learn from it” in my new book on amazon (shameless self promoting plug)
Consider for example, your buddy comes over and says:
“You know what that experience taught me? You can never trust a skinny cook.”
“Well, my experience taught me you can never trust a man, a woman, a guy with blue eyes, or a car from Ford.”
Our list goes on.
Except that our experience was not evaluated. The lesson we walked away with was total garbage. Experience is not the last word on truth.
My friend’s experience went through the wrong filter and came out double expresso and not a single latte. Our filters are pain, lack of understanding, predispositions, etc. We often see what we expect to see, and “learn” what we actually want to believe.
How then do we learn from experiences?
Evaluate. Write it down. Then, go the next step and process that evaluation with other people.
You can’t trust a skinny cook because you always eat at cheap restaurants. It’s not the cook, it’s the restaurant.
You can’t trust a man, because you keep dating losers.
You can’t trust a woman because you want every woman to be like your momma.
You can trust a guy with blue eyes. I have blue eyes, and you trust me, right?
And well, maybe you’re right about the Ford. Never trust a Ford.
But you won’t know if your evaluations are correct until you process them with others. A counselor. A pastor. A group of emotionally solid friends (you have at least 2 of those, right?)
What are the learning possibilities here? Just make sure that you don’t learn the wrong thing.
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