What does it look like to be a whole-hearted person (to borrow Brene Brown’s term)? Do whole-hearted people rage against the unfairness of life from time to time? Do they experience inexplicable irritation or anger?
Brene talks a lot about practice. Not about being perfect, but about embracing imperfection and learning to correct mistakes where you can and trying again. I kind of feel that’s what my life has been like. Trying to take a lesson from a situation and then going out there and trying again.
The part I struggle with is repeating the same lesson over and over without seeming to grasp it.
I recently told a good friend a story about choosing the lesson we take.
I was keeping emails. Neatly filed in organized folders with the thought I might need to produce one someday. On the rare occasions I needed an old email, I had it. No matter if it was from 3 years ago. I had it. Never mind it might take me an hour to find it–I had it! And that felt like a triumph somehow.
Then, my mail file got too big and started having problems. I had to clean out a bunch of old emails. As soon as I did, someone needed something from 2 years earlier. I no longer had the email.
I turned to my office mate (who was and is also one of my best friends) and said, “It just figures. A day after I finally get rid of an old email, someone needs it. No wonder I never want to get rid of email!”
She either didn’t hear exactly what I said or chose to ignore it. Her response was, “Yeah, all this time keeping track of all that junk and when you don’t have it, it turns out not to be a big deal.”
She was right. It really wasn’t a big deal, I just thought it was. This is a great example of choosing the lesson. Without thinking about it, the lesson I was going to take was “I can never, ever, ever get rid of another email because I never know when I’ll need it.”
My friend reframed the experience to the exact opposite. Had she not said that, I never would have realized I could choose which lesson I took from the experience.
I can’t say I’ve gotten over email hoarding, but when I do purge, I do it without guilt or fear now. Although, I still probably keep more than I should.
Perhaps what I need is to have a committee of friends help me figure out what the possible lessons are I can take from the more challenging events in life that shake me to my core. Perhaps where I fall short is not in failing to learn “the” lesson but on thinking there’s only one possible lesson to learn and missing the one that works for me.
Life Lesson Selection. How’s that for a committee name?