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It was an overcast but humid morning as I sat on the beach, looking out into the vast, never-ending ocean.
An ocean always reminding me how small we are in the scheme of things. Always grounding me and filling me with a sense of peace—a warmth descending on me, even on the cooler days.
It’s my place for thinking and reflection.
And today, I was reflecting on my life—the highs the lows. The peaks and troughs. The blessings and the lessons. As I move toward my 54th year, I have amassed a treasure trove of lessons and wisdom.
The gift of challenges, adversity, heartbreak, sadness, pain, and even grief is what we learn and how those learnings may help others.
Here’s my little box of big wisdom:
1. Everything is temporary. We are mostly creatures of habit, and big change terrifies us. We find comfort in our cocoon of life, relationships, job, and routine. We like to believe in permanence and attach ourselves to the security of this. In reality, everything is temporary.
2. Beneath anger is usually fear. People react in negative ways with anger, jealousy, control, and oftentimes, these are driven by fear. Fear of loss, fear of change, fears in the world—can show as anger.
3. Others treat you the way you treat yourself. How you allow people to treat you is how you feel about yourself. If you lack boundaries and fear upsetting others, you open the door to others disrespecting you and treating you poorly.
4. A lifetime is not long. We all think there will be a never-ending cycle of tomorrows; the truth is there won’t be. We have this one life, so follow your soul and live purposely and presently.
5. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness comes from within, but it also comes and goes. Grab it with both hands. We need to stop looking for happiness externally and instead go within and listen—listen to what our soul is saying.
6. Don’t play it too safe. We do love our comfort zones, but most of us know little truly grows there. What if we stopped playing it so safe? What if we stepped outside and there was a world of magic waiting?
7. Not everyone has the same heart as you. We too often think everyone has the same heart as us, but they don’t. This isn’t to say it’s good or bad, just different, and when we are blinded by our own perception of another, we can open ourselves to hurt.
8. There are different types of love. The unconditional love for our children. The love for our family and friends. Romantic love and then there’s the rarer, deep soul love. Not everyone gets to experience all these loves.
9. Everybody lies. Some smaller and insignificant and others far bigger and significant. The biggest lies we tell are often to ourselves. We justify why we stay in places or with people when we know we no longer belong there. We convince ourselves we are living the lives we desire when, in fact, we are sometimes living the life and dreams of others.
10. Real listening is a skill. Too many of us listen to respond, to give advice. Real listening is to hear another, like really hear what they are saying and openly consider what’s been said—without judgement.
11. Insecurity masquerades as ego. It’s a form of self-preservation. Ego can be destructive in all parts of our lives. When we allow our ego to control how we react, we show our worst behaviour. When we are insecure, feel threatened, or out of our depth that ego will jump in to protect us from embarrassment. A little ego is fine now and again, but if it gets out of hand, it’s toxic.
12. Judgemental people lack self-awareness. Everyone can be a little judgemental from time to time. But some people are incredibly judgemental because they lack self-awareness and are closed-minded. In the year 2022, we should be able to respect the choices of others (legal choices). It’s not up to us to preach our virtues onto others. It’s up to us to stay in our own lanes and be open-minded and respectful of the opinions and beliefs of others.
13. Most people have not been taught how to unpack emotions. Generational trauma, beliefs, and behaviours have resulted in decline in mental health over the years. Many of us were never taught how to deal with our feelings or emotions so have learnt to distract ourselves or dismiss and bury our negative or painful emotions. Stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and all the mental illness labels we have are a pandemic and so much stems from unhealed trauma and the lack of skills we have in unpacking our emotions and feelings.
14. Greed and power are a disease. They have seeped through all corners of the world. Greed and power are driven by sad, unfulfilled people who continue to search for happiness. More money, more status, more, more, more and what they realise is—it is never enough. They are never satisfied because these things do not make us happy.
15. We all have inner work to do. I never understood this, and I think many people don’t. But we all have unhealed wounds or trauma of some sort that needs healing. The stuff that forms our belief system and makes us react and behave in the way that we do. My greatest blessing is facing the hard stuff and healing because without the healing we never grow.
16. Nobody else can make you feel whole. We are whole beings. Nobody can complete us, fill our cup, or be our other half. We are not two halves; we are whole alone. It’s also nobody else’s job to fill us up. If we are looking for and expecting someone else to do this, we will forever be searching. We need to stop chasing the fantasy instilled in us and start believing in ourselves.
17. There’s more to connection than our connection with others. We need connection. Human connection is obvious, but what about our connection to ourselves? This is the most important connection of all; without it we will always be lost. Connection to the earth and nature is beautifully grounding. Connection to faith whether that’s religion or some sort of spirituality or mindfulness. We need to tune in.
18. Our physical health is more impacted by our emotions than we know. The body always keeps the score. We’ve come a long way in starting to understand the impact our emotional and mental health have on our physical body but nowhere near far enough. Not enough doctors speak about this or even understand themselves as they are not taught this. Medication of course has a place but so does nutrition, exercise, and now more important than ever, stress reduction.
19. Gratitude is critical. Being grateful for even the smallest of blessings will change your outlook. Focusing on the good can improve your headspace (this is not to be mistaken for toxic positivity).
20. Kindness and compassion are difficult for some. For someone who is kind and has compassion for others, this is hard to understand. But for some people who have not healed their own sh*t, they find it hard to show kindness and compassion to others. They’re not always bad people but definitely wounded people.
21. Sometimes life is a masquerade ball. Sometimes we are surrounded by people afraid to show who they really are. Always popping their mask on to show who they think people want to see.
22. Authenticity is the key. When you live your most authentic life—the truth of who you are—and follow the truth of your soul, you will find life becomes better. It becomes more abundant and fulfilling. You finally understand life.
23. We don’t always get closure. Sometimes we have to give ourselves closure. Accept that closure won’t be forthcoming and move forward. We all want closure; it gives us more of a sense of an ending, but sometimes no matter how desperately we need it, we just don’t get it.
24. Letting go is a b*tch, but it can set us free. Sometimes the only way to open a new door is to close the door behind us. Letting go can be gut-wrenching, but most of all we are terrified to let go because that means it’s gone and maybe we still have hope and don’t want it fully gone. We can let go of things and they come back, but we do need to let go because without letting go we remain stuck.
25. Your energy enters a room before you do. It’s all about the energy. We are attracted to and drawn to certain people because of our energy. We find ourselves at certain stages of our lives because of our energy. The idea is to raise our energy by doing our work. Healing what needs to heal. Practising mindfulness and gratitude. Striving to be better people.
26. Loving yourself. This one is the biggest gift of all. Love yourself enough that you set boundaries. Love yourself enough that you look after your physical and emotional health as best you can (and get help in need). Love yourself enough that you can be content and happy alone. Love yourself enough that you teach others how to love you.
We are gifted with so many lessons throughout our lives. The trick is to take them on board and use them to grow and change. Some lessons are absolutely bloody brutal—they will rip your heart and soul out and trample all over the top of them. You will feel like you can’t get back up. Like you cannot breathe and thoughts will frighteningly and harshly speed through your mind questioning who you are, what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, whether you can go on, and do you even want to.
When we learn our lessons, we gain wisdom. We let go of bitterness and resentment and we open our arms to growth and new beginnings.
So on the beach that morning, I gave a wink to the universe and let the humid breeze wrap me up in a hug. I looked at the footprints in the sand from where I had been, stood up, and began walking in a new direction, with all my reflected-upon wisdom.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ~ Aristotle