My life lessons summarised
I have been presented with many situations that have challenged me, and many of these have had me scratching my head at the underlying lesson. I certainly think I have had my fair share of troubles. Born with Cystic Fibrosis, a difficult loveless childhood and several rare health disorders – one that nearly killed me at age 25, I had many opportunities for post traumatic growth!
I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the lessons I have learned through my personal struggles as well as through many common lessons I have come across in the work with my clients. I hope that these tips for life help you in some way…
1) It’s crucial to love and support yourself
When you love yourself and like the person you are, it helps you deal with many difficult situations. For example – it helps you withstand criticism from others, it assists with getting old, with being true to yourself…and with self belief – others don’t always know better. Insecurities are less likely to be triggered and you end up more secure in relationships. If you don’t like you who fundamentally are, ask yourself why. If you don’t then others are unlikely to follow – your inner world will be mirrored externally. Show others your value by starting with valuing yourself. I didn’t value myself when I was younger and invited abuse and disrespect into my life without realising what I was doing. Now, it happens less because my inner dialogue is healthier and my behaviour has changed.
2) Everyone has self doubt and insecurities
It’s so easy to feel inferior. We compare ourselves to others and assume they are so together and we aren’t. We assume that they have everything, or that they are everything that we aren’t. It’s time to realise that you are not comparing equally. You are in effect comparing your “behind the scenes footage” (all the offcuts, all the bad bits) with another person’s “highlight reel” – (what others are willing to show you – all their good bits. Facebook is a good example!).
Stop comparing and realise that when you do this it will only make you feel worse and it isn’t a fair accurate representation at all. I guarantee that if you could see the full comparison you would have a different opinion about your life compared to others. Your life is never that bad and theirs is never that good.
3) Manage your thoughts – what you tell yourself about who you/your life determines the quality of your life
Your inner state determines your external world. What are you telling yourself about life? If you are cynical, mistrustful and angry this will manifest in your life. If you choose to be more open minded and trust that life is unfolding as it should and that life is supporting you,even at times when life is tough, (there may a higher reason – it pays to be philosophical rather than say “this just confirms I am awful etc”) you will find that your general happiness levels rise.
We look for events in life to affirm our beliefs – if our beliefs and thinking are negative, we inadvertently look for things in life to prove this (known as cognitive bias). Try thinking the opposite. Try not to overgeneralise and give each new person and situation the benefit of the doubt. Talk to yourself in a positive manner too.
4) Being true to yourself is a constant work in progress
There are many barriers to being true to yourself in life. Other people, the pressures of society, protocols, etiquette, expectations, finances..the list is endless. Being true to yourself starts with self awareness. Once you have an idea of what it is that really gets you buzzing, work at moving in that direction a little at a time. Resistance will be all around but never give up. Introduce elements into your life that move your closer to your goal by volunteering in the area of interest or go away for a weekend to try out the things you like…move closer all the time. Getting closer to your true self is the path to contentment.
5) Living with integrity helps improve contentment and inner peace
Be the same person no matter what the situation. We all change a little depending on the company we’re in or the situation but never change your fundamental values. Never gossip and don’t be two faced. I used to change what I said depending on who I was with and wanting to be liked and accepted was more important than liking myself and being a decent person. Now, I stick to my guns and will defend someone I like even if the present company disapproves. Decide what you believe and stick to that. Others will respect your for it and your confidence will grow as a result. You will be trusted too.
6) See the bigger picture…always look beyond the trivial day to day stuff
The ebbs and flows of life are normal. Sit tight during the tough times and don’t resist with statements like “why me?”…or “it’s so unfair” – this keeps you stuck and feeling powerless. Instead, accept the experience (this doesn’t mean you have to like it) and go with flow until you come out the other side..it’s natural. We’re all on this “up and down” ride together.
7) Take responsibility
When we see ourselves as a victim and blame our parents, our health, our circumstances etc we effectively give our power away. We send ourselves a consistent message that we are helpless and powerless because the situation we are in was created by things beyond our control. This is self defeating behaviour. Yes, it’s true that we aren’t always dealt the best cards in life but it pays to work with what you have in order to feel empowered.
I could’ve sat back and thought how sad my life has been and how everyone owes me somehow but what good would that do me? I would most likely grow old, bitter and twisted.
It’s easier to be a victim though because then you don’t have to try to make the best of your life. When others notice you can just blame your sad life on others. The thing is we are all responsible for where we end up in life. The decisions we have made in the past have led us to where we end up. Many people with awful childhoods manage to turn their lives around…your parents may have caused initial damage but you allow them to continue that damage, even after their deaths if you don’t work hard as an adult to counteract their early negative influence.
You still choose what to think and what to do. You choose who to let into your life and you choose how you let others treat you. You choose your beliefs. You choose whether to give up and see yourself as a victim or whether to accept the challenge to better yourself in spite in the tough circumstances. A tough realisation for some but it’s never too late to claim back your power.
8) Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
If you wan’t to be slim, focus on how you will look and feel when you’re thinner. If you want a happy home – visualise this almost as if you have it already. When we focus on what we don’t want – war, famine etc we tend to focus on that energy rather than pulling positive energy in. Think about people with enough to eat, push positive thoughts into the world. Some believe this energy can change things. I recently watched a documentary by Gregg Braden – very interesting. I am not sure what I believe about this but I do see value in focusing on what we want rather than on what we don’t want. I like the idea that the universe and the energy within it responds somehow.
9) Live a life with meaning and purpose
What would you want people to say about you when you are gone? Would you like to be admired and remembered for honourable reasons? Think about what your life’s purpose is and if you don’t have any purpose it may be a good time to start thinking about what you want to do with your life. I believe we are all here for a reason – to find our strengths and to use this to somehow add positively to the world. It could be in the smallest way possible but I like to believe that we are all meant to be here to fulfill a purpose. What gets you emotional? Where do the interests of your heart lie? Follow this – refer to “being true to yourself”(point 4) to help you with this too.
10) Connect with others, appreciate good people in your life – they are gifts
Always make time for special people. See them as gifts in your life. The happiest times in my life have been when I am enjoying a shared moment with a friend. Sounds corny but other people are where it’s at. Those people who inspire you, who care about you – they need to be nurtured. Show them you care and connect as often as you can. If you are isolating yourself from others, it is highly likely that you are choosing (on an unconscious level) to believe negative thoughts about relationships – get to the bottom of it as it is healthy to bond with others and share life experiences.
Even though I am constantly learning and know some important life truths, it doesn’t mean that I am good at applying them. Life is kind of like an experiment – we are all learning as we go, The trick is to try different ways of thinking and doing to open up new paths instead of staying in the same old rut, coming to the same old dead end over and over again.
Photo by symphony of love