Mistakes Into Experience

Update a behavior that has not been re-evaluated, but that is not working optimally, or is dysfunctional.

Select a behavior that needs to be updated.

Choose a recurring behavior pattern that causes some kind of bad outcome. An example: attracting people who violate your boundaries (like someone who shows up to your birthday drunk and starts a fight—it ends up being all about them instead of your birthday).

Elicit the limited beliefs that are part of the behavior.

What beliefs encourage this behavior, or limit you from alternative behaviors or outcomes? 

Example: “Believing” that you should ask “Why?” over and over instead of coming up with a solution such as setting definite limits with a person who violates your boundaries.

Think of a negative outcome of this behavior.

What is a bad outcome of the behavior that has a lot in common with other bad outcomes of the behavior? 

In other words, it is a fairly predictable type of a bad outcome. For example, having a special day ruined by a person that you have not set limits with.

Compare the negative outcome to a worse potential outcome.

Think of something that is even worse, and that actually could have happened as a result of your behavior pattern, but didn’t happen.

Identify positive things that resulted from the negative outcome that you identified in step three.

Although the negative experience from step three was unfortunate, ask yourself what positive outcomes you can identify. For example, you may have discovered which one of your friends is the most insightful, because they clearly saw what was going on. 

Or perhaps you have gained a lot of knowledge through experience that, once you have put it into action, will constitute tremendous wisdom that you can use to enhance your life and the lives of others.

Express the positive intentions underlying the negative behavior.

Your behavior pattern is based on positive intentions of sort, despite the bad outcomes that have been resulting from it. 

Clarify these positive intentions and find a way to express them. They are worth writing down. 

Come up with positive intentions of the other people involved, even if they create negative outcomes or intervened in a way that you did not like.

Discover the positive significance of the bad outcomes.

What meaning can you take from the bad outcomes that have come from the un-resourceful behavior pattern? 

For example, you may have realized that you have some very good resources that, once they are used for the right purposes, will serve you well. You may have realized that there are limits to your stamina or capacity for boundary violations that are worthy of your respect and assertive protection. You may have realized that, once put into action, this wisdom will prevent a tremendous amount of suffering.

Re-experience the negative events while in the positive insight state.

Connect fully with the sense of wisdom, putting any feelings of hopelessness or cynicism aside for now. 

Realize that this is a positive state. Imagine taking that positive state through the memories you have of those bad experiences, seeing them from a new, resourceful perspective. 

Mark and store the wisdom gained from this pattern.

Take all the good energy of the positive state, and everything that you have learned from these experiences, and imagine transporting this to the place in your mind where you store the elements of your wisdom. 

Tag them in some way that makes them available to you when you encounter situations for which they are relevant, so that you can prevent bad outcomes and generate excellent outcomes.

Over the next days or weeks, notice any ways that the problem behavior changes. For example: Do you have better ways to prevent the typical bad outcomes that would come from the behavior? 

Example strategies might include being more effective at managing the expectations of others, being more realistic about what you can do, sensing risk factors early enough to take evasive action, and responding more objectively to a situation by keeping things in perspective.