Processing Your Experience

Everyone has bad experiences. Whenever bad experiences fall upon us, each of us will process those experiences in his or her own unique way, based on previous experience and on his or her personality. Some of us tend to focus on emotions; others, on analyzing the experience. Some see the glass half full, others see it half empty.

Regardless of your style or your personality, please think about the following.

Processing is about asking questions, perhaps starting with the questions a reporter would ask.

What happened? Where and when did it occur? Who was involved?

How did it happen? Why did this happen?

Who was responsible?

What damage has been caused?

What sort of repair is necessary?

Beyond basic questions, the real work of processing is getting to the “meaning” of the experience. In order to do that, we can explore deeper questions, such as …

How has the experience affected me? What did it mean to me that this thing happened?

How did the experience affect …

My behavior?

My relationships?

My attitude?

My values and goals?

My emotions?

My dreams?

My hopes in life?

My choices?

My belief system?

My opinion about people? About love? About relationships? About who I am? 

My self-esteem and self-confidence

The answers to these questions may be expressed in examples such as …

I can’t trust the opposite sex.

Love comes and goes, relationships are fleeting.

I don’t feel comfortable opening up to people.

 Maybe I’ll always be alone.

I’ll never let anyone get close to me again.

I’m the only one I can depend on, so I don’t reach out.

I’m not handy, and I never will be.

Life sucks, so I’m just going to have fun as long as I can.

As long my career goes well, I’m fine.

Since this happened, I believe I can solve anything that comes up.

Institutions, especially government and religion. can’t be trusted.

I’ll never succeed.

I can’t stop making bad decisions.

I’m a mess.

Above all, ask yourself what you have learned from this experience that will help you have a better life.

Anyone who wants to get through bad experiences can learn to do so. Some might prefer to work things out by reading, listening to smart people or some other solo activity. That’s fine, if it works.

But, if you’re more comfortable discussing this with a therapist, please feel free to call 219-309-3928 for a no-cost consultation. I would be glad to be of service.

Thanks for reading!