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With Hindsight Comes Insight
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, January 2013

We know that life changes us. We become transformed. The relevant question is, in what ways do life's events and challenges, whether they are grave or pleasant, complicated or simple, truly affect us? How do we integrate a "life event"? We need to make sense of it, recognize its effect on us, what it says about who we are, challenge or reinforce what we believe in, and what its ultimate meaning is in our lives to help us to figure out what is the point. All experiences provide us opportunities for growth.

Reflection and contemplation.

Hindsight can bring insight.

Are we able and ready to "reconsider" how we handled an interaction, a life event, an experience, so that we can learn from it?

We can feel startled or flustered by someone's comment; not really knowing how to respond or what to say. Afterward, having gathered our wits again, we "re-think" the situation and have "brilliant" insights about what we "should" or "could" have said. We may chastise ourselves for not having said or done what we think would have been a "perfect" response. But we forget to acknowledge that we are not perfect and in that moment of confusion, when we were caught off guard, our cognition was likely stifled by our emotions.

In that moment, we may have wanted to lash out to defend ourselves or someone we love who was offended, and in the momentary rage, we could not think.

Rather than lament how we did NOT respond, we can use the situation for learning -- about ourselves, the situation, the other people involved by:

1) Recognizing what we did or did not do in our response.

2) Thinking about why we responded as we did.

3) Considering other options that might have been available, without judgment.

4) Role playing some of the more viable options.

5) Thinking of how we might feel about ourselves if you chose one of those options, and whether behaving in such a way would make us feel good about ourselves.

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