Two weeks ago I went to church. While I’m sure the pastor gave an excellent sermon I honestly don’t remember what he even talked about. For some reason there were a bunch of kids in the congregation that day. Kids age 3 and under. Kids that age make a lot of noise when they’re upset and fussy. It was really irritating. At first, it was cute. I’d hear a kid get upset and start fussing or crying a little bit. But then the parent would sit there with the fussing kid and not do anything about it. That led to another fussy kid and another one. I don’t know if the nursery wasn’t functioning that day or what. Point being it left a bad taste in my mouth. When I go to church I don’t want to have to focus so hard on what the pastor is saying that I’m tired when I leave. The hard focusing was a result of straining to hear what the pastor was saying. I was so annoyed and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I had this fear that these kids would be there when I went back last week that it made me not want to go. And you know what? I didn’t go. I got up at my normal time and when it came time to jump in the shower I thought to myself, “I really don’t feel like dealing with that again.” I stayed home. The last thing I remembered about the church session wasn’t the pastor’s sermon. It was the screaming, crying, chattering and in my opinion annoying kids.
A similar experience happens to Pete when he tries to work out with me at the gym. Pete wants to workout with me and will try and follow whatever I do when it comes to weights, etc. Pete doesn’t always do so hot and winds up sore and tired. The last thing Pete remembers is a painful workout. When I ask Pete if he wants to workout at the gym, he will just so happen to forget his gym clothes that day.
I like going to church so I’m going to go back. I can guarantee that as I enter the sanctuary I will be checking for kids. Sometimes the last thing you can remember leaves an impression on you and depending on how much you like it or don’t like it may depend on whether you resume your regularly scheduled activity.
Just like I like church Pete really likes yoga. He always remembers his clothes on Thursday nights for yoga class. Since he joined the gym I can’t think of a Thursday night when he’s forgotten his clothes. But if it’s supposed to be a workout in the weight room, he’s a lot less likely to show up because he associates the harder exercises with pain and soreness thus leaving a bad taste in his mouth. When Pete leaves yoga he’s had a pleasurable and relaxing experience and will therefore keep going back week after week with no argument.
Depending on how closely connected you are to the activity and how badly you get burned by something can also affect whether or not you return to it. For instance, I love dance and movement. It fascinates me. I really love ballroom dance. I got burned in a major way and I did a complete 180 on it a year ago and have a very hard time wanting to go back. I had too many bad experiences with this particular activity that I will never return to it. I can’t support something I feel so strongly about in such a negative way. On the flip side, if I tried scuba diving once, got stung by a jellyfish and decided I didn’t want to try it again it wouldn’t be so tragic to me because I didn’t have much invested in it in the first place. Dance is the harder one for me to get over because it’s something I’ve done for most of my life.
Negative associations come in tandem with positive ones. It’s just how it goes. If you like something or somebody and something negative happens take a break from it and then get back to it. At least give it a second or maybe even a third chance. Don’t give up on it right away. I’ll be back at church this week. I won’t go back on the dance floor. And as for the scuba lessons…I couldn’t even force myself to take them because I saw a girl get stung by a jellyfish the day before I was supposed to take the class and couldn’t go. I was too scared. It was my loss. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Nothing ventured nothing gained. And jellyfish scare me!