How old are you? Take a minute and reflect on some of the things you have done in your life. Some good, some bad. Things you’ve learned how to do, and some other stuff you’ve learned never to do again. Decisions that went well and that went poorly. This is experience, and it’s how we get better.

I can also guarantee that it’s not the same experience as mine. I’ll bet there are things you’ve learned that I know nothing about. Your experiences are unique, and they are a huge part of who you are right now. You can’t change that. But you can use it. Whether positive or negative, your experience can help you make better choices from now on, if you’re willing to pay attention and sometimes do something difficult or counter to how you’ve done things before. Later on we’ll see how you can use your experience to help others who have been through similar situations.

A key step in all this is to embrace your past, all the things you are ashamed of or wish you had done differently. I’m sorry, but you can’t change it. But – you can use it. All the life you’ve lived so far has given you experience that you can use, whether that’s positive or negative experience. You might know plenty of bad ways of being a parent that you want to avoid because you were on the receiving end of it. You might have had plenty of practice talking your way out of trouble, and now you can use those quick wits in new ways. Or, perhaps you have always had a good work ethic that can be applied to your current situation.

Wherever you are right now and whatever you are facing, you either already have some experience of it or you don’t. If you do, that’s because one time earlier in your life you were in a similar situation for the first time. And you got through it. If you don’t, that’s because this is the first time. But there has to be a first time for you to get experience to use the second time. And every first time is full of the fear that you might fail. And you might. But your experience will be built whether you succeed or fail.