It’s Not About What You Experienced, It’s About How You Dealt With It

It's not about what you experienced, but how you dealt with it

Several studies have shown that memories are not immutable, but that new details are continuously added to them while others are released. This means, in other words, that what you have experienced in recent years leaves a mark on you that you do not exactly remember, but that your understanding of what happened depends on how you interpreted it.

In fact, the common thread that runs through most of your memories is not the facts themselves. Actually, it’s the meanings these facts had for you.

Let’s look at an example.

Two children were abandoned by their parents at a very young age. The abandonment has had a very strong impact on both children, but one of them decides to initiate a trial to understand why it happened.

Years later, this person remembers everything as a sad event. However, he knows and understands the circumstances. The other person, who has not digested the experience, has only vague and inaccurate memories. However, he also experiences a strong sense of pain and anger.

In the end, it’s never about what you experienced, but about how you handled the situation. Much of our sadness or fears are caused by past experiences that still negatively affect our lives. This is because they have not been processed properly.

Your experience and its interpretation

Humans are not computers that simply collect data to keep it available, so memories are not the same as data on a hard drive. Memory plays a very special role in people’s lives. The past is actually a complicated concept. Although it is something that you have experienced before, it can have a very significant impact on your present. This happens even without you realizing it.

Boy Reflected In Mirrors

To understand this we can use the old metaphor of the building.

First you make the foundation and on this foundation you rest each floor. If the foundation is not sound, one of these floors will likely begin to crumble for no apparent reason. Or the building as a whole may begin to crumble or collapse at the first shock it has to endure.

This is exactly what happens in a human. The foundation of who someone is is built up during the first years of life. These are, in general, the years we can hardly remember. From this point on, each experience is added and interpreted according to that basic consciousness that has already been formed. If the foundation is compromised for some reason, then it is possible for a fracture or instability to occur in adult life.

The good thing about all this is that while the building metaphor can help us understand this concept, a human life is much more complex and at the same time much more flexible. Thanks to human understanding, what happened in the past can be read in a more constructive and helpful way. That is, what you have experienced can make you a better person or a worse person, depending on how you interpret it.

Woman In Grain Field

You can reinterpret what you experienced

It is in our nature to want to avoid and forget negative experiences. If you’ve been abandoned, rejected, or have been through a traumatic experience, you’ll be more likely to try to repress it and not think about it too much. You do this so that you don’t have to confront yourself with a series of thoughts that don’t contribute anything positive to your emotional well-being.

However, if you don’t give yourself time to process what you’ve been through, instead of forgetting it, you will keep the experience alive in your subconscious. This then manifests itself in the worry or fear that you later experience and for which there seems to be no explanation.

It is not what you experienced that matters the most, but the way you have structured the memory. If you choose to take the victim’s perspective to interpret what happened, you will see your past experiences through a lens of self-pity. If you choose to have a defensive view of it, what you have experienced will turn into another reason to mistrust others or seek revenge. This can happen even if these people have not done anything to you.

It is important to learn how to deconstruct what you have experienced. This means that you must consider the events that have occurred and take a position that will ensure that your understanding develops. It’s not just about taking into account what happened, but also trying to put yourself in the shoes of those who may have hurt you.

You may discover that it was not cruelty or selfishness that moved them, but their own limitations and frustrations. You may also understand that the best way to do yourself justice is not to forget, but to see yourself as someone who has had a negative experience but deserves to overcome it and be happy.

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