Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it” (Romans 12:18 MSG).
They say experiences are the building blocks of one’s lifetime. They shape how one thinks, behaves, and who one eventually turns out to be. I agree with these words in many ways, however, it is easy to get so soaked up in this reality that we forget what the most important thing is.
“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him” – Aldous Leonard Huxley.
You have a major role to play in how any experience is remembered. It is your reaction to the experience that goes down in your memory, not necessarily what was done or said. Think about it, when something bad happens that really drives you to tears, you don’t really remember ‘exactly’ what was done or when. What sticks is how you felt, how badly it hurt and how you cried.
“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that’s in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore” – Mark Twain.
The worst part is that somewhere in our heads we program ourselves to respond to similar situations the exact way we did then, or avoid them completely. There are times I’ve caught myself avoiding certain situations because it reminded me of something or someone from my past. For example, there were things I would see in a new friend that would easily scare me into drifting away from them. Why? Did they hurt me? Nope. But fear told me that they would because the last time someone in my life did this, I got hurt.
Can you be honest right now? I’m sure there are times you’ve treated a new love interest (for example) like an ex, successfully chasing them out of your life, and then you sit back and wonder why you decided to let them go. Half the time, you realize that they actually did nothing, but you, on the other hand, simply let your past experience determine your reaction to a present circumstance.
“But, how do I get over the past and just move on,” I hear someone asking. I used to think that this was the most difficult question anyone could ever ask. I used to think that we are all sealed with our experiences for our lifetime, and there’s absolutely nothing we can ever do to change them, except, you know DIE lol. This is true in many ways, but I believe differently now.
I had a conversation with a friend, as I went through what seemed like a really difficult experience for me at the time. She literally had to drag me away from the public space to avoid what was slowly becoming a dramatic “break-down”, movie-type scene.
She took me away from everyone, sat down and listened, as I shared things I wouldn’t normally share with just anybody. We had a very good conversation, but what stuck with me was something she said that changed the way I look at past experiences. They were three simple words:
DROP THE EXPECTATIONS.
Now, I bet someone would be thinking… Huh? What does that have to do with anything you’ve been talking about. Easy, my dear, we’ll get to that in a minute, but first I want you to do this exercise with me.
Think about an experience you had that had a devastating effect on you. Then, think about a present situation that seems to be playing out like that experience. Now, think about the people in the present situation, even if it is the same group e.g. your family or friends. And finally, take all the expectations you have of them and throw them all out the window. Expect absolutely nothing from them.
Do you know what you have just done? You have given the new person a chance to make his/her own impressions; basically, you’ve given him/her a blank sheet to paint a new picture, that will birth a new experience. If it’s the same people that hurt you in the past, well, you’ve offered them something so divine. And you’ve given this gift freely; a gift we all need at some point in our lives – it’s called Mercy; a second chance.
“To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being” – John Lubbock.
Do you understand how this works? The only way you can be disappointed is if you continue to have high expectations of everyone. But if you take into consideration that everyone is just as human as you are and that even you sometimes disappoint yourself, then loving freely without expectations becomes easier.
“Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love” Leo Buscaglia.
This works for every kind of relationship; whether it’s in loving estranged parents, friends who wronged you in the past, or someone you’re just meeting for the first time. Kindly drop all your high hopes and expectations. Expectations mainly emanate from past experiences that have conditioned our minds to want the things we want right now.
Consider this as an invitation to a new perspective; welcome to a new day! The past is gone, and the only way it can hurt you is if you keep holding on to it.
I’ll leave you with this picture another friend taught me. If you hold a bottle of water in one hand for 20 minutes, you may not feel any pain. But hold that same bottle of water in one hand for 5 hours, and it will start to feel like you’re carrying a sack of rice. It’s not the weight of the bottle that changed. Nope. It’s the duration of time you’ve been carrying it for.
So… Drop it!