How You Can Utilise Your Lived Experience

Learn how utilising your lived experience has the power to inspire change, support others, and foster understanding. Share your story, help others, advocate, pursue opportunities, and prioritise self-care.
Group of three people with two women and one man who are happily talking.
Written by
Voice of Health
Published on
October 5, 2023

Your lived experience, both positive and negative, shapes who you are. Your lived experience is a valuable assets that can help you connect with and support others. By sharing your story and perspectives mindfully and purposefully, you have the power to inspire change, foster understanding, make a positive impact and find new purpose. But you might be wondering how you can utilise this amazing gift, which is why we have put together some ways you can do this.

1. Share Your Story

Opening up about your personal journey builds connection and empathy with those around you. Consider sharing relevant parts of your story where it may benefit others, like support groups, close friendships or when advocating related causes. For example, someone who navigated grief could share insights in a bereavement group or with others who have experience the same or similar loss. Share to inspire hope and help others feel less alone, while also maintaining appropriate boundaries.

2. Help Others Navigate Similar Challenges

If you’ve successfully managed certain challenges, like a health crisis, job loss or trauma, you can provide invaluable guidance to others now facing similar situations. Offer emotional support and practical tips that worked for you, but if you are ever unsure it’s always best to check any advice with professionals to ensure it’s sound. Provide a compassionate listening ear and emphasise their inner resilience. Your experience can shine a light and offer new perspectives as they navigate their own difficulties.

3. Advocate and Raise Awareness

In a world where stigma is still present, using your lived experience to advocate for positive change and bringing awareness to important issues can have an enormous affect on people’s lives. For example, a survivor of domestic violence could work to raise awareness about abuse issues through campaigns, public speaking engagements and outreach. Or someone who experienced disability or discrimination firsthand could speak out on behalf of inclusion and equality. Sharing your story ethically and appropriately might be the inspiration someone needs  to address the issues they are facing in their life.

4. Pursue Education or Career Opportunities

Your lived experiences may point you toward certain educational or career paths focused on serving others, like social work, counselling, victim advocacy, peer support, public health or community organising roles. Apply your insights to help enact positive change. Complement your perspective by seeking any specialised training needed for those fields, and bring compassion along with professional expertise.

5. Foster Understanding

When sharing your story, seek to foster understanding from the perspective of those who may not have experienced similar struggles. Explain sensitively how certain challenges impact lives, to build empathy while avoiding judgment. Be mindful not to trauma dump emotionally as your goal is to widen perspectives.

Exploring the process of fostering understanding can also provide a valuable opportunity to articulate your own story. As you strive to effectively communicate your lived experience to others, you simultaneously enhance your ability to articulate it to yourself. This introspective journey allows for a deeper understanding and connection to your own narrative, fostering personal growth and self-awareness.

Conclusion and Self-Care

By thoughtfully utilising your lived experiences, you can guide others, advocate for positive change, pursue meaningful work and discover new purpose. With sensitivity, courage and compassion, your story has the power to inspire hope and make a profound positive difference.

Processing and sharing personal stories and your lived experience can take an emotional toll. Make self-care a priority by setting boundaries around what, when and how much you share. Be selective about safe, supportive environments for opening up. Therapeutic techniques like journaling, support groups, counselling and mindfulness practices can help you manage some of the stress. Take time to reflect and acknowledge your own healing journey. You can’t effectively help others without first taking care of yourself.

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