The Experiences of Others
Are we who we are because of our experiences or because of the experiences of others?
At first glance it would seem reality probably lands somewhere between the two. A combination of what I’ve experienced and what others have shared with me about their experiences meld together to create my view on the world, my perspective about life. And, I think this is largely true.
The question is: should it be?
Is this how we should be living our lives, forming our beliefs?
We have all had numerous times throughout our lives in which the experiences of others do not align with our own. What one person sees as a waste of time, another sees as essential to their well-being. What one person views as risky or dangerous, the next may see as exciting and invigorating. What one person loves, another hates.
It really is true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and not just in the physical sense.
What is weakness to one is strength to another. What is timid and vulnerable to one is humility and acceptance to another. What is failure to one is renewed opportunity to another.
Why Should We Care?
Who we are must depend solely on our experiences.
The experiences of others can be reviewed, examined, and considered. They provide curiosity and wonder on what that experience might be like. Some push us towards creating our own similar experience, others reassuring us that we don’t want it.
What must always be remembered, however, is that they are not our experiences. And, as such, they piece together the life of others, not ourselves. This is no small point..
As soon as we begin to identify too closely with the experiences of others, we lose connection with the impact of our own experiences. The more we look out, the less we look in.
Society loves to show us all of the incredible experiences others partake in every day. Unfortunately, the snapshot of the epic moment fails to reveal the experiences leading up to that point. This is precisely why relying on other people's perspectives is so damaging.
When it’s our experience, we know the background. We know what went into making that moment a reality. When we’re merely observing someone else’s moment, that knowledge of previous experiences isn’t there. So, what do we do? We make it up. We tell ourselves some made up story about how they got to where they are. And, it’s never accurate.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
As much as this is about focusing on our experiences and allowing them to serve as the foundation to our lives, it’s just as much about grace and acceptance for ourselves and others. When we can dispose of the need to judge and compare, suddenly our experiences seem like just the right ones.
Our experiences define us. They determine what we believe, what we do, and who we become. Be certain that the person you are becoming is a result of your experiences, not someone else's.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.