TED Conversations

Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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Is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?

I think the question is self-explanatory, and am curious what your own answer is on this age-old dilemma! Personal anecdotes are purely optional.


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    Jan 6 2014: Life is the experience of life.
    All experiences, whether we label the 'good' or 'bad', offer fuel for a deeper richer experience of life.
    Negative experiences in particular carry within them the seed of how we can grow into more mature human beings (psychologically and spiritually) and this is often afterwards evidenced by experiencing within ourselves an increase in compassion for others (as well ourselves!), for animals, and for the natural world.
    I would say that in essence, it is definitely better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
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      Jan 6 2014: Hi Joshua,
      If all experiences offer the opportunity for a deeper, richer experience of life, and carry within them the seed to grow and learn, which I agree with, why call it a negative experience?
      • Jan 7 2014: Speaking from my own experience, Colleen and Joshua, and in an effort to learn ad grow from it, I also feel a necessity to experience the negative exactly as it is - negative. This by no means implies it can't also be constructive, however!
        I have found that by embracing the things I have always labeled 'negative' (in an effort to avoid them) has brought me closer to the essence of my being, and why I am here at all, and how I can move on.
        Avoidance was futile, I discovered. Negative is just a word to describe what I tried to shield myself from, what I feared.
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          Jan 7 2014: Lizanne,
          I guess I don't have a need to label an experience negative or positive, because I can learn and grow from ALL experiences. I agree with "embracing" the experience, ALL emotions, and opportunity to learn and grow.

          I agree Lizanne....avoidance is futile, and doesn't help with the process of learning. To feel, experience and embrace ALL feelings and emotions is important to really get to "know" our "self".

          Years ago, I realized that something could be learned from ALL experiences, so down the road....a week....a month.....a year.....many years........I perceived what the experiences offered me as an opportunity to learn.

          Sometimes, I spent time and energy with frustration and disappointment, etc. BEFORE I got to the lessons. Now, I look for the lessons as I am going through the challenge and I FEEL all the emotions, but do not hang onto them for extended periods of time.
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          Jan 7 2014: Hi Lizanne,
          Thank you for your comment.
          I think you are on the right track. (Please see also my reply to Colleen below).
          I would say we cannot process anything we are not aware of. Or perhaps I should say, the more we experience what is, as it is for us in our felt experience and perception (which can feel very negative), the more potential fuel-for-life that can be released when that bit of us is brought from the dark-and-wild side, into our consciousness.
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        Jan 7 2014: Hi Colleen,

        Good question. I would call negative experiences "negative", on a temporary basis; the same as Lizanne suggests. The reason for this is that they remain in that state in our felt experience until we process them (ie: until we feel them fully, see them non-judgementally, understand them wholly, and receive fully the gift they bring).

        The beauty of labeling them temporarily negative is also that it helps us focus on and hone in on the essential work in growing into more mature adults (more mature psychologically & spiritually). We need to undo our belief in lack, and 'experienced-as-negative' experiences point us directly towards and bring our attention to what we need to look at next.

        I can also suggest an alternative word to 'negative': immature.
        We have experiences that are painful to us that are in essence "immature" and they want to grow up into "maturity" and make their proper contribution in our lives. And we need to help them, (some of whom are rather wild and who have very dysfunctional beliefs), to grow into maturity by welcoming them unconditionally and understanding them for the contribution they can make in our lives when they have grown into maturity.
        I ask them sometimes: "when you are fully mature, what kind of job do you want? Who do you see yourself to be when you are a more mature version of yourself? What is your 'natural habitat' in the bigger grown-up scene of things? How do you see your optimum contribution?"

        As a final thought, the last thing our 'negative' felt experiences need is to be steamer-rollered by 'positive thinking', bashed on the head by rejecting them, or ignored in an attempt to "let go" of them.
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          Jan 7 2014: Hi Joshua,
          I agree that experiences may remain in our perception in a certain way, as long as we label them in a certain way. Unfortunately, many times, when something is labeled, people do not move beyond that label. Naming something "negative", in my perception, is a judgment.

          Personally, I see no "beauty" or usefulness in labeling experiences or emotions "negative" even for a short time, because it is a judgment. Experienced and labeled as negative, experiences MAY point us directly towards...what we need to look at....."

          AND...experienced and labeled as negative, experiences may remain labeled in that way forever in our mind and heart.

          Perhaps I can accept your idea that "negative" can equate to "immature". I totally agree with welcoming experiences unconditionally and understanding them for the contribution they can make in our lives. That is exactly why I choose not to label the experience negative:>)
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          Jan 7 2014: Joshua,
          It seems that you added to your comment since I last saw it?
          "As a final thought, the last thing our 'negative' felt experiences need is to be steamer-rollered by 'positive thinking', bashed on the head by rejecting them, or ignored in an attempt to "let go" of them."

          I totally agree....it does not help to "steamer-roll", or ignore ANY feelings. I believe it is helpful to FEEL all emotions and feelings.

          There have been times in my life when I have gone to the depth of painful thoughts and feelings....laying on the floor crying thinking/feeling....why me....how am I going to live my life now....poor me....hurting SO bad...

          One of my good friends calls this a "pity party". We can take the time to go to the depth of all the emotions, and like I said in another comment, I see no reason to hold onto those emotions. They are still with us, and we do not need to focus on them for an extended period of time.

          I have experienced some of these painful emotions coming back at different times in my life to be reviewed and re-evaluated again and again....usually taking me to another level of understanding and acceptance every time. Each time, I FEEL it to the depth of my being, AND I do not stay with, or focus on the pain. I move through it to more understanding and acceptance.
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        Jan 8 2014: Hi Colleen,

        Thank you for your two further comments; yes I did add an extra bit at the end about 5 minutes after first posting it - so you must have just caught it in between. Very well spotted. And I agree with your comment.

        I like your idea of the "pity party"; I get the picture of a group of people having a deep shared experience of going through the emotional suffering, but somehow ending up rolling on the floor in laughter as we see the situation in a different light, and as the emotions have been witnessed rather than bottled up. (I'm not sure if that's my imagination going over-the-top).

        Words of course carry differing meanings and associations for different people. In any difficult or painful situation I try and hold the question: "What is the bigger truth in all this?". This shifts my attention away from indulging in "woe is me" for too long, and towards a lesson I need to learn. Perhaps this is a pity-party-for-one.

        As a further thought on the word 'negative', I always have an association of being a young boy with my father in the workshop, processing (old-style) photographs. We are holding up to a faint light the strip of negatives and choosing which ones are worth developing further on the expensive photo-paper. The negatives are just an imprint which offer a next-stage opportunity to consciously work with them and develop them into memorable (B&W) photographs.

        Generally I take the approach that "everything is good for something" as long as we find a way to process it and transform it into fuel for a deeper richer experience of life.(Easier said than done, hence I guess Lizanne's original motivation for starting this conversation).
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          Jan 8 2014: You've got it Joshua! A "pity party" can take place with a group of people who want to listen and share "stuff", and we can have a "pity party" all by ourselves.

          YES....however we get to the point of the emotions being felt and acknowledged in our self, and/or witnessed and shared with others is beneficial. Once this is accomplished either in our "self" or with others, it feels MUCH better in my humble experience and perception. Yes......laughter....when we are ready, and I prefer to be ready sooner, rather than later:>)

          That is an excellent question for ourselves Joshua.... "What is the bigger truth in all this?".
          Another question I ask myself is...."how important is this"? In the whole scheme of things, how important will this be in 5 or 10 years? That question, for me often short circuits the "pain", "poor me" cycle ( "shifts my attention away from indulging in the "woe is me" for too long" as you insightfully say), because I KNOW that I learn and grow, I have faced challenges, and I'll be fine. Yup....sounds like a pity party for one!

          I LOVE your idea and connection to looking at negatives to decide which ones to develop.
          I still don't like to use the word negative when talking about experiences or feelings though:>)

          I agree..."everything is good for something as long as we find a way to process it and transform it into fuel for a deeper, richer experience of life. You say....easier said than done". I actually LOVE the journey, so I perceive it to be easier than the alternative, which is holding onto thoughts, feelings, emotions which are not recognized or dealt with in our "self". I LOVE the process of discovery and the journey to "know thyself".

          Nice discussing with you Joshua....thanks for the opportunity:>)
      • Jan 10 2014: Well said to you both.
        As someone who has spent the greatest portion of her life avoiding anything remotely resembling pain, fear or anger, embracing those emotions now in the biggest, wildest 'pity party' in the world has been essential for me!! We've all been there, sounds like...

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