10 Life-Changing Lessons I Wish I Learned Sooner

In this article, Joanna Warwick gives us a reminder of 10 lessons we should regularly keep in mind – especially when our sweet little inner critics start talking to us. Below is an extract from her article:

“1. Being happy is not about what we achieve.

I had to start with this one, as someone who has spent so much of her life achieving, striving to achieve, and competing to win. The first half of my life I strived to ride for my country and compete in the Olympics, then to achieve in business, then academically, and always in relationships.

It doesn’t matter what I achieve. No job, promotion, money, relationship, house, highest mountain, or gold medal will ever change how I feel about myself.

Achievement is the icing on the cake, so it’s important to learn to like the cake that’s the sum of who we are first, so we have something to ice.

2. We are all doing our best.

I used to hold myself to the highest scrutinizing criticism and moral compass.

I was excellent at delivering self-punishment as judge, gaoler, and executioner for every small flaw, mistake, or underachievement.

However, I would forgive other people for every fallibility, choice, and indiscretion. I expected so little accountability or responsibility from other people and so much from myself.

I’ve learned to balance it out by being more lenient, forgiving, and loving towards myself and accepting that we’re all doing our best—and this rule applies to me too.

3. We have to know and respect our deal breakers.

Self-worth is an action, so I got clear about my relationship deal breakers. Sadly, I’ve let a lot of people throughout my life treat me with disrespect—lie, cheat, take liberties, bully, blame, shame, and even abuse. I didn’t stand for anything. I couldn’t say no.

Without no, my yes had no value.

Now my deal breakers are respect, honesty, and responsibility.

When we know our deal breakers, we don’t accept mistreatment because we know we’re worth more.

4. Other people’s actions aren’t about us.

When I was in my twenties, my ex fiancé cheated on me. For a long time I believed it was my fault, that it must have been something I did or didn’t do—that I wasn’t good enough.

I realize now that how any other adult chooses to behave is about them, not me. My ex felt there was a problem in the relationship, and in response, he chose to be the kind of person who lies and cheats.

We’re only responsible for our own actions, feelings, and words, which means the buck stops here, but this also frees us from wasting energy and time cleaning up other people’s messes.

5. We need to trust our intuition.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life because I didn’t trust my intuition, nature’s gift of survival, which helps us thrive.

I got involved with the wrong people, relationships, and jobs, ignoring that I knew they weren’t right for me from the start, and then paid the price by wasting time and energy trying to make them work.

Intuition can be as loud as someone shouting in your ear, and other times, it’s subtler.

When we slow down, take our time, allow it to get clearer, and listen, we save ourselves a whole lot of trouble.

6. All the studying in the world will never be enough.

I’ve spent years studying, seeking to understand people and the meaning of life, love, and the universe. I have letters after my name to prove it, and much of it was a waste of time.

Most things are just stepping-stones to somewhere else, often on a cyclical path back to what you knew already.

Knowledge is power, but experience in using it, applying it, seeing how it feels, and making mistakes trumps everything, because that’s wisdom.

Good old-fashioned hands on living and having the courage to get involved and experience makes you wise. Then you have a beautiful lesson to share.

7. Face the scary stuff.

I wasted so much time hiding from the boogie monster, the scary truth inside of me. I just had to be brave and come face to face with how I felt and what I desired.

I had to feel all that I had hidden, repressed, and buried instead of trying to unlock it all through my head with knowledge, or getting someone else to tell me what to do.

Only then was I free; I could I stop caring if other people approved of me or not and just love myself and know what matters to me.

We travel through life alone, and by becoming our own best friend we no longer have to fear being unloved.

8. Accept that life and people are inconsistent.

When I was little, like everyone, I was reliant on others and needed them to be consistent so I could feel safe in the world. Unfortunately, they weren’t, so I got stuck needing to please other people so they would take care of me, but I always felt let down and disappointed.

I was like a drowning young woman at sea, battered around by the force of the waves with nothing to hold onto, because I had nothing of substance to rely on.

Change is the only consistent thing there is. Accepting this empowers us to learn to depend on ourselves.

9. We can be our own best friends.

By facing the scary stuff, getting clear about my deal breakers, starting to trust my intuition, and forgiving myself, I began to like, love, and respect myself.

I turned my curiosity toward finding out about myself and what I actually like, enjoy, and don’t want. I became my own best friend and I’ve got my back if there’s a problem.

I came to know me, inside and out, and what matters to me, so I built a boat of substance and I’m no longer drowning. The world around me can be wild and changeable like the sea, but now I can ride out the waves without fear. The same can be true for you.

10. We are enough.

I never needed to strive to be anyone’s best friend, girlfriend, or wife by keeping a tidy house, cooking like a chef, and making wild passionate love every night, or by being a CEO, earning a fortune, or having a gold medal or a PhD.

It sounds exhausting just writing it, but that was how I used to live my life.

Yes, I sometimes do some cool, fun, interesting stuff; I am curious about the world and enjoying my life. But sometimes I can’t be bothered.

I like to slob around in my PJs watching old movies. I get morning breath and matted hair, but can scrub up well and attend the ballet.

I now know who I am, what makes me happy, and the value I can bring to any relationship or situation not because of what I do, but who I am.

We’re unique, priceless, and irreplaceable, and the sum of every experience.

Our greatest relationship is with ourselves, because it’s through that relationship that we learn how to truly love other people, including our children. And when we demonstrate how to love us, we can get the most joy out of our lives.”

Resisting the Temptation To Stay Comfortably Numb And Conform In Mid-Life

After reading Kathy Gottberg’s blog on Carl Jung and the Art of Aging well, I came across her blog on mid-life comfort and the choice of adventure and possibility over conformity, safety and comfort.

Kathy has a few questions for us to ask ourselves:

  • When was the last time you did something that felt scary or pushed your limits beyond what you routinely do most days of your life?
  • Do you constantly make choices that support comfort in your experiences or do you try to mix that up with challenges?
  • Do you ignore the pain and plight of anyone outside of you family and friends out of a need to “keep what’s yours safe?”
  • Do you routinely self-medicate and go numb in order to deal with what’s going on in the world?
  • Do you avoid all risk even when things aren’t that great because, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t?”
  • Do you secretly crave to do/be/try something new and different but don’t want to rock the boat?

South Africa and the world is becoming increasingly uncertain – we never quite know what tomorrow will bring and what midnight changes there will be. It is not always easy to jump into scariness, adventure and risks in that environment and we prefer to stick to what we know.

But sadly, at the same time, more and more of our friends are dying far too young. Author and palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware shares the number one regret in her book ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

“Dwelling in middle-aged comfort, nonconformity asks us to wake up, become more conscious, and be willing to sacrifice all our preconceived certainties for the potential of what lies out of sight.” – Kathy Gottberg

So I challenge all mid-lifers to choose adventure and possibility whenever you can and live a life true to yourself – and try not to worry about the judgement of those who would prefer you not to.

 

Be Unique – Live Counter Culturally

“We live in a culture that begs us to conform. Through its various messages, it calls us to squeeze into its mold. It exerts external pressure on our minds to believe in and buy its opinions, hopes, and aspirations. Yet, the pursuits that define most of our culture never fully satisfy our heart and soul.

In response, the world will tell us to just run faster, reach further, work harder, make more, and become conformed more deeply. But its promised offer of fulfillment always remains out of reach. Our deepest longings are left unsatisfied.

Unfortunately, through this vicious cycle, we lose our uniqueness. We lose our passion. We lose our energy. We lose our opportunity to choose a different future. And because we are too busy chasing the wrong things, we sacrifice our opportunity to find something greater and more fulfilling in this life.

Meanwhile, our heart begs us to live differently. Our spirit calls us to seek our own passions. Our soul cries out for us to not conform. Our insides long for us to live counter cultural lives. But all too often, the external pressure from the world calls us back into conformity. And we reenter the race. How then do we break free?” – Joshua Becker

In the complete article written by Joshua Becker he provides 4 steps on how to live a counter cultural life.

Drinking the Tears of the World: Grief as Deep Activism

“No-one escapes suffering in this life. None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness and death. Yet, how is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? How is it we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence in the most obvious of times. Without some measure of intimacy with grief, our capacity to be with any other emotion or experience in our life is greatly compromised. It is our unexpressed sorrows, the congested stories of loss, when left unattended, that block our access to the soul.” – Francis Weller

There is so much loss in the world at the moment – death of those too young to die, destruction of the environment, losses of homes due to fire, the slaughtering of rhino……the list goes on.

In this article on grief  Francis Weller speaks of the Four Gates of Grief:

  1. the losses connected to losing someone or something we love
  2. the grief that occurs in the places never touched by love – these are the places within us that have been wrapped in shame and that we do not show to the world
  3. the losses of the world around us
  4. the expectations coded into our physical and psychic lives – expectations of a connection with the sacred

“It is difficult to resist the temptation to retract and close down the heart to the world. What then? What becomes of our concern and our outrage for the way things are going? Too often we go numb…”

It is a long article but really worth the read.

Enneagram

I have just been on a 4 day training course on the Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire (IEQ).  The Enneagram is a sense making map that describes the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. With the IEQ you are able to pinpoint your Enneagram type and this can be used in your development journey and pursuit of goals. The Enneagram leaves room for the uniqueness of every individual and helps you to evolve into the best version of yourself. The Enneagram shows you how small you have made your own box and how to get out of it.

Each personality type represents a worldview that resonates with the way in which people think, feel and act and how they stand in relation to the world, others and themselves. The Enneagram will help you understand what drives your own unconscious behaviour, and will give you greater awareness of your motivations for certain habitual responses. We have the qualities of all nine types in us but one of them affects us more than the others.

For more detailed information on the nine Enneagram personalities read this long but informative article by Shira Atkins.

Please contact me if you would like to book an Enneagram assessment and coaching session.