Skip To Content

    People Are Sharing Past Experiences That Completely Changed Who They Were, And For The Most Part, They All Really Learned From It

    Sometimes things happen in life that not only deeply impact us in the moment, but also forever change how we deal with and think about things moving forward.

    Recently, Reddit user u/Lower-Ad461 asked an interesting and thought-provoking question to the AskReddit community: "What past experience made you completely change the way you were?"

    Thousands of people replied with the moments and experiences that would forever alter their lives. Here are some of the top-voted and best answers:

    *Warning: discussions about bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health ahead*

    1. "When my ex husband was having an affair with my mother. Now, I'll never get married and family can't be trusted."


    "I respect your choice, but just remember there are a lot of guys wayyyy better than your ex-husband."


    2. "The whole inheritance thing with my father's family. Money really does bring out our true mettle."


    "My mom had to deal with this (her sister screwed her), and my dad also had to deal with this (he and his brother were screwed by the third brother).

    Both my parents have died since (within a couple of years of each other, actually), and my brother and I split everything 50/50 (in addition to supporting each other emotionally 100%).

    Not like we ever doubted each other, but let me tell you, the comfort in knowing that the one person you have left on this earth wants to support you, that's enormous."


    3. "Open heart surgery. I found out at 43 years old that needed heart surgery for a genetic heart defect I was born with but didn’t know I had. I was in Stage 3 heart failure. I went from diagnosis to surgery in six months. Scared the crap out of me. I had never had surgery of any type before. I came home from the hospital a new person. I’m so much nicer to people and I’m generally much happier. I really appreciate life."


    "After my dad had a heart attack, he became mellow, caring, and nice. I thought to myself he had his life flash, and realized how much he didn’t get to enjoy/cherish/experience, and how much everything can change in just seconds. Later admitted that he realized he took us for granted and wish he spent more time with my family, then what he was doing before."

    4. "I used to repeat dumb things I heard and pretend I knew what I was talking about."

    "One day, in college, I’m in the cafeteria telling some classmates that microwaves cause radiation. A man seated at a table near us overheard this and interrupted. He said that microwaves do not cause radiation, at least not the type I was insinuating (space radiation, cancer-causing). He educated me on how microwaves actually work, they use a type of electromagnetic radiation that creates waves to make the water particles in the food vibrate really fast (causing them to heat up).

    I asked how he knew this and he said he worked at a company that sold microwaves. There was a silence that hung in the air after he said that. I’ve never been fact-checked so hard in my life. It humbled me, TBH. Now I’m careful not to repeat rumors."


    5. "I bought a bottle of cheap, weak wine."

    "On the surface this doesn't seem like a big, life changing event but for me it turned a lot around. I was heading to a friend's house for board games and a picked up a bottle of wine at the store on my way. When I got to my friend's house I realized the wine was only 4% ABV and got really mad about it. Getting mad about low alcohol content made me realize that I had a completely unhealthy relationship with booze and I quit drinking the next day, haven't touched it since. I lost 50 pounds, I actually enjoy experiences with my friends and family and remember them, and I've saved a ton of money."


    6. "Not really one experience, but as a teenager I was an overly opinionated/ignorant bitch. People tried to tell me but I'd take it personally and lash out. As I got older I started listening to people and realized how I was acting. I'm much calmer now and I understand that my opinions aren't always right or need to be heard."


    7. "Building a motorcycle. I have always been a handy guy but I looked at things like mechanics, house builders, welders, etc. as something I couldn't do. Turns out, you can just go do stuff. The only roadblock is how much effort you want to put into it. That POS motorcycle that I pulled out of a yard and turned into something cool changed me. It made me more confident."


    "Turns out, you can just go do stuff. I gotta remember that philosophy! Seriously, it’s decent advice."


    8. "I realized that my mental health was garbage, and the people I surrounded myself with were just as bad. They were struggling mentally, we were all each others' verbal punching bags, and we all demeaned each other constantly. I made the decision to cut them off as soon as I could, focused on unlearning the anger issues I had developed, and put an end to bullying as a form of 'bonding.'"


    "I'm realizing this myself only now at 29. For so long every part of my life had some form of 'ball busting' as a normal form of communication. I've started to reevaluate how I interact with people. Complimenting people makes me feel better and makes them feel better. It's amazing how much my outlook has changed. I feel more confident, which I guess makes sense."

    9. "I used to bully one guy at school. Me and a few other guys would mostly just joke about him being fat. But this one time things went a little further and we pushed him so he fell and we would all shout 'earthquake.' When we all stood and laughed he looked up at us and I met his eyes. That look on his face just killed me. He didn't say anything, but his eyes just said, 'Why?' I've never felt so bad in my life and his face is forever seared in my memories. I stopped any kind of bullying that same day. And I slowly cut contact with the other guys who were with me that day."

    "Luckily the guy is doing all right now as far as I know. I've talked to him a few times after this and I always tried to be as inclusive and kind as possible, but I think the guy just did not want to have any contact with me which is very understandable."


    10. "Volunteering for a physically and mentally disabled center in Kolkata. At the end of two years being there I could say that they gave me a lot more than what I could ever give them. Forever grateful for the experience."


    11. "I went to see the movie Inside Out. Cute Pixar movie, nothing too heavy, right? Well, the third act was what made me realize that what I’d been feeling for years and years was actually depression. The minute Riley’s 'control board' starts to turn grey and shut down, I thought: Oh. That’s exactly what I’ve felt."

    When she goes back to her parents and finally breaks down about her inability to keep putting on a brave/cheery face, I thought of how much I wished I could tell my parents the same thing. I got lucky. I had a good doctor who helped me get on SSRIs, and the first drug I tried was highly effective with minimal side effects. And I had (and still have) a wonderfully supportive partner who encouraged me to seek treatment. A cute little animated movie gave me the language to understand myself, and the chance to get my life back."


    12. "I was at a festival when a couple of kids fell into a river and one didn’t resurface. Me and a two other people jumped in after the kid, it was about two minutes of all of us diving down before I found him. He wasn’t breathing and I managed to put him on my back and climbed halfway up and was dragged the rest of the way up as I was destroyed physically with the swimming and the adrenaline."

     "The kid wasn’t breathing and I handed him off to the paramedics, who fortunately were already at the festival. Me and the two other people just laid flat out covered in filthy water. I was crying as it really hit me hard carrying that kids body all limp and lifeless, and I’ve never heard a better sound when I heard him coughing, and people clapping and cheering. Really put everything into perspective, now 10 years later I have a young son myself and now I understand how that mother felt.

    She visited me at my home a few days later and gave me a hug and she wouldn’t stop crying, saying thank you, etc. At the time I didn’t get it and was rather embarrassed but now I fully understand."


    13. "I was raised conservative Christian with a 'love the sinner, hate the sin' mindset regarding LGBTQ+ people. I had a great co-worker who was my friend and was gay. I always treated her with respect, love, and kindness (believe it or not that’s what Christianity actually teaches) — but when asked I always just told her that I loved her and thought she was wonderful and that I was extremely sad about it but believed she was going to hell."

    "One day she told me, 'I have been physically beaten, disowned, driven out of my hometown, ridiculed. I have tried to change, yearned to change many times. Why would I ever choose this for myself? This is not a choice.' That changed me.

    I’m now an advocate. I walked away from Christianity completely for many years, but have come back with a different view point. Jesus loved everyone and his major message was not to commandeer the word of God, handing out punishments and judgments like the Pharisees. Also, the Bible was written by fallible people."


    14. "When I was a teenager, I had trouble with interacting with my classmates and people my age. I was shy and always ashamed of being there, wanting to say sorry to exist every time I entered a room. One day, the therapist I was seeing told me that people saw me as I treated them. And that no one is very self-confident, and they would appreciate me talking to them and paying attention to them."

    "It didn't really make its way to my brain, until the day I arrived in a new class. We were told where to sit, and when I sat next to my new classmate, I was so embarrassed and feeling bad for her that she had to be next to me that I didn't look at her, and didn't talk to her. 

    A while later, I thought again about it, and realized that indeed, if people saw me as 'myself,' it could be interpreted as 'I don't like you.' I decided to act kind to other people (even if I was convinced my kindness would not mean anything to them). Next year, I had to repeat the same class. I took it upon myself to smile, say hi and ask her name to my new desk neighbor. She spoke to me in a friendly way and complimented my notebook. That's when I really understood and believed what my therapist said. It turned my life around. I started acting completely different. That year, I was elected class president."


    15. "Finding out that the man who raised me is not my biological father. Everyone knew except me. Since then I always insist of getting to know the whole painful truth instead of the sweet lie."


    16. "Leaving a highly-demanding religion and going through the faith deconstruction process. I grew up in it, and my entire identity was wrapped up in something I no longer hold to be true. My entire identity and purpose was pulled apart when I left the group. This is a recent development; it's frightening and exciting at the same time."


    17. "Going through a surprise divorce. Nobody asked if we should go to counseling. Nobody asked if I wanted a divorce. Nobody asked if I wanted shared custody of the kids. Since she got full custody, she got the house (which I signed over to her, knowing she would not make the payments), and she got the car (which she wrecked six months later)."

    "When her new 'soulmate' turned out to have lots of time to sweet-talk her into leaving me and him moving in with her, she found he had lots of time because he was frequently 'between jobs' and 'was occasionally using meth.'

    Two years later, she asked if we could get back together, and I was polite but I firmly told her I am a different person now, and if she didn't like me before, she REALLY wouldn't like me now.

    I have a great relationship with my kids, and their childhood struggles have resulted in them being very successful and resilient."


    18. "Taking the plane. It's weird, but for my huge fear of flying was because of being afraid to die. I have always avoided planes. The day came when I had to fly overseas, and the only way was by plane. It was my only option, so I just went for it without thinking of a 'solution.' Well, from that day, I take planes weekly for work, without thinking of my fear and just handling it once on board, and it made me save so much time and money, that my life is now completely different."


    19. "I got shot in a leg trespassing on someone’s farm, all because I wanted Instagram photos."


    And lastly...

    20. "A YouTube algorithm told me to watch Chef Jean Pierre dice an onion and I did. I went from never cooking to a master chef. I don’t know why that was the trigger, but it was — and holy shit, I eat good now. The only downside is that my wife makes me cook every night."


    You can read the full thread of responses on Reddit.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.