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Dr. Burnie R. Burnside

I’ve had a front-row seat in watching lots of people start over all kinds of things. And it just breaks my heart to see the mistakes people make. There are some things that if we do right, the next time will definitely be better than the last time.

Unfortunately, we tend to repeat our mistakes in areas that matter most: in the areas of finances, relationships, things with our kids, things at work and school. After we repeat the same mistake a few times and suffer the consequences, we ask ourselves, “When will I learn?”

I want to explore three myths we make subconsciously when thinking about starting over to a different chapter of life.

“The Experience Myth”

Myth one is “The Experience Myth.” “Experience makes me wiser.” We think, “Since what I’ve just gone through, I’m wiser for it.” But experience does not make you wiser. It makes you older, it makes you tired, it makes you poorer, it makes you madder, it makes you lonelier. But experience alone, does not make you wiser.

People say, “Oh, I don’t need to learn. I’m ready to go. I know what to do next. I won’t ever repeat that, because I’ve had this bad experience.” You just need to know an experience one time doesn’t mean you’re anymore prepared for the next time than you were the first time.

The key is evaluated experience is what you makes wiser. Experience doesn’t guarantee anything, except that you’ve just possibly wasted some time. But evaluated experience — thinking, praying, researching and talking to experts — can be a game changer. Evaluated experience sets you up for success the next time.

“The Know Better Myth”

“The Know Better Myth” is second. “Since I know better, I’ll do better.” There is an assumption that if we know the difference between right and wrong, then we’ll automatically do what is right. But “know better” does not equal the ability to do better. Knowing better doesn’t always equal the ability or the power or the self-control to do better unless you evaluate your experience, and make some personal changes.

This is why, for many, their last bad relationship reflects their current bad relationship that’s going to carry on into their next bad relationship. Knowing and doing are two completely different things.

“Time is working against me”

The third myth is the time myth and this is the toughest one. “Time is working against me, the clock is ticking, I am not getting any younger.” And so we think, “I need to get on with it. Time is wasting. I learned my lesson. I know better. I have had a bad experience. I am ready to jump right back in. I am ready to restart. I got to get with it because the clock is ticking. Time is my enemy.”

Absolutely false. Of all the myths, this is the most destructive one. “Time is your friend. It is not your enemy.” Time is your friend in every arena where you are starting over. When you have gone through something difficult, the truth is, you are a little bit out of balance and before you make another big life decision, you need to find balance.

Emotions are like a temperature, they go up and they come down, but oftentimes they do not come down as fast as they go up. And you are carrying a little anger, you’re carrying a little bit of resentment, you are carrying a little bit of jealousy, you are carrying stuff you don’t know about. So consequently you are a little bit off balance. You are still dealing with some pain.

When you are in pain you become very self-absorbed. It’s not your fault, it’s the nature of pain. Self-absorbed people make self-absorbed decisions. So consequently, jumping into whatever’s next before you’ve allowed the temperature to come down, before you’ve found your equilibrium, before you’ve found your balance is a very dangerous thing.

When you are healthy, you have clarity; and when you have clarity, you make better decisions, and until you have clarity, you have no business making decisions, but that takes time.

THE REV. BURNIE R. BURNSIDE is semi-retired after 34 years of pastoring Hope Community Nazarene Church in Denton. After degrees in Ministry and Theology, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in education and counseling of adults. He currently serves as chaplain for the Denton Police Department. He can be reached at DocBurnside@gmail.com.

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