Each of us has our own set of tools, our own proverbial toolbox. Throughout out lives we are faced with challenges, opportunities, and experiences, that help shape who we are and provide us with “tools” for our toolbox.
What we do with those tools can help us connect or separate us from others.
Some people use their experiences to separate themselves from others, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively.
They might use them to make themselves seem more elitist or powerful than they really are. The experiences they had and the opportunities they were given make them somehow better than the average person. That trip abroad, or vacation they took puts them in a class by themselves.
But others use their challenges as ways to differentiate themselves out negatively. More of a “poor me” attitude. No one else could have possibly experienced the same types of trauma that they have. Maybe they had an abusive or absent parent. Maybe it was an illness they or their spouse had that sets them apart. They use their experiences to push others away.
In that case, the experiences become tools of destruction. Each experience is used as a way of separating from others and destroying, rather than building, relationships.
I try to see my experiences in a different way. I try to see each tool in my toolbox as a way for me to connect with others. I try to use my positive experiences, as well as my negative experiences as a way to connect, support and empathize with others.
When I sit down with one of my faculty members, a student, or a parent, I try to use those tools to share an experience and build a relationship with them.
Having a toolbox with tons of “tools” or experiences in it is only beneficial when those tools are used in a constructive way.