Updated: Oct 25, 2019
An experience is going through a process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling. Choosing an experienced based way to travel is choosing to expose yourself to a wider range of emotions allowing yourself to learn and grow. You open your mind to new perspectives and ways to see life.
“Experience” comes from the Latin “experiential”, from experiri ‘try’ (Online Ethymology dictionnary). My understanding is that an experience is going through a process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling. The knowledge you get from your studies, life and from being in a lot of different situations (an event or occurrence) that happens to you, or a situation that you are involved in, affects how you feel, leaving an impression on you (emotion or sensation).
This experience helps you build an opinion, an explanation, based on the theory that you make alive through what you witnessed or lived. The experience gives a strength in your speech by putting emotions into your words and anime your body language. It also gives you the power to fulfill the gap in your brain between the image you had (expectations born from the theory or from other’s experiences) and reality.
As you might have already noticed, what we learn at school or taught by our parents for example is sometimes not what is happening in reality. Theory is important to have as it is a first approach to an unknown situation but a real situation is important to complete the knowledge and adjust a judgement. By experiencing several times the same situation over and over again, you can get the whole picture and understanding of a situation. However it still is your own interpretation of reality and doesn't mean that you are right or wrong. It is only right is your own reality.
If you live at least once in a lifetime a situation, you can have a little opinion that can help you to understand someone else’s or anticipate the situation if it presents itself again. It also can give you a witness to refer to before to make a choice.
As humans we naturally practise comparison. However, comparison is not an accurate base as it must be attached to the same context, the same story. However, it can help to have a better understanding and approach of any situation.
Experience goes through a process in your mind. I don't know if it is the same for your, but when a situation happens once, I associate some memories and emotions to it that I have little control of. That way, when a similar event occur, it triggers the chemicals in my brain and the same emotions comes up into my body. I naturally reflect to a past memory and tell myself stories. The emotions and thoughts are enmeshed at that point so there is a risk for me to react to this emotion instead of answering to it. However, if I stop for few seconds and acknowledge the real present situation, I can choose to respond to it and the situation becomes a totally different experience. Focusing on the present allows to get the appropriate outcome.
This process is complex as “our narrative self would much prefer to continue suffering in the future, just so it won’t have to admit that our past suffering was devoid of all meaning. Eventually, if we want to come clean about past mistakes, our narrative self must invent some twist in the plot that will infuse with meaning.” (Homo Deus P353)
Most of the time it is all happening in our brain. It is hard to be vulnerable when you have been hurt and even more when “trust” have been broken once toward others and/or ourselves. The process to change, to educate, to trust ourselves and others is long. Bad experiences add up auto-protections but baby step by baby step, if you remove any expectations about what could happen and add up little positive experiences, you might change your vision on that past experience (without forgetting it) and discover the positive of that same experience but with another environment, people and mindset. Yes the scars stay in your mind and body however they can be softened with some time and different experiences. The challenge is to embrace the present, have no expectations, let go of the past, while staying aware of what could happen without having fear of the result as it is not there yet. I learnt that if you train yourself to do not have any expectations, it can change the perspective to any situation.
Being aware of the dissociation of the emotions and thoughts is important. Try this exercise :
- Go for a walk into nature.
- When you feel an emotion coming, stop, breathe, listen, smell, touch what is around, be fully present.
- Acknowledge and label this feeling and the emotion attached to it. We have six core emotions : Sadness, Fear, Excitement, Anger, Disgust and Joy. They can be the source of different feeling : sadness, anger, happiness, pride, confusion, uncertainty, love, puzzlement, joy, excitement, melancholie, impatience, frustration, compassion, passion, zeal, enthusiasm, humour, playfulness, irreverence, disgust, anticipation, tenderness, hurt, disappointment, warmth, consolation, affection, anxiety, patience, impatience and surprise.
- Identify if this emotion is adapted to the reality of the situation, if it is an emotion based on the truth, trust the process and choose to respond to your emotions.
- Then, validate this emotion as the truth. Accept the choice and perspective you focus on.
- Feel and experience this rational emotion fully. It takes an average of 90 seconds to be completed.
To finish, the outcome can be an other emotion or an action or inaction.
However through this process, you relieve your body of the physical tension attached to it. You create a new memory to base yourself on for another time and that you can come back to in the future on purpose or not. Mastering our own emotions is part of the three powerful keys to find a balance in your body and mind.