1. Material things won’t make you happier:
Throughout my life, things have been a Band-Aid for emotionally trying times. This was set at a young age when I was faced with external negative stimulus which was attempted to be remedied with material things. This is something we often set for our children in the form of rewards. “If you get your flu shot, you can get a toy…” “I am sorry your fish died, would a stuffed animal help you feel better?” We often set a precedence that items can fix feelings. Unfortunately, that leads to coping mechanisms that mask the negativity for a short time, but does not fix the root problem. The secret to happiness is accepting yourself, and is unrelated to the things you have.
2. If your goal is to make everyone else happy, you will lose yourself:
I have been lost and am currently in the process of finding myself. It is so easy to get caught is a cycle of helping others and depriving yourself. The word ‘No’ can be very powerful in finding yourself (another post, another day, perhaps). If you were to ask me what my hobbies are, what my style is, what my dreams for my future are, I would have no idea how to answer. I had spent so much of my life being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a nurse and so many other titles and wore so many hats that I spent no time at all being ME. In the process of finding myself and I am finding that I like me and it is ok if not everybody else does.
3. Being perfect is impossible and being the best version of yourself is much more fun anyway:
Since I was a child, I have set expectations for myself so high that I consistently let myself down. The song ‘Perfect’ by Alanis Morissette was lyrics that I felt were written to me.
‘Sometimes is never quite enough
If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love
Don’t forget to win first place
Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face’
Through my current journey I am amazed at how imperfect we are all meant to be and it is those imperfections that make each of us unique. Uniqueness should be embraced and nurtured.
4. Achievements matter much less than memories:
Successfully completing a task or challenge, or being the best at a certain feat can be an amazing feeling; however, the journey of life can create amazing feelings as well. Memories made taking the road trip that you almost cancelled, spending time with loved ones and enjoying the journey of life are so important. So often, we miss out on opportunities to live because we are running a rat race to accomplish an achievement that often does not matter in the big picture. Dr. Seuss says “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Too often we don’t participate in these ‘moments’ chasing after accomplishments.
5. Happiness can’t be found. It is built from within:
I have searched. I have hunted. I have explored and scavenged. I have found places, things, and people who have made me feel better for a short time. Some places, things, and people have helped me along my journey, but in all of the time and effort, looking inward toward myself is where true happiness lies. I realize that I am responsible for that. Happiness is an attitude that I must choose. Some days it is hard, but it is my job to keep this happiness.
6. When you learn to accept the apology you never got, life become better:
I have found through much anguish, that the ability to forgive someone is a gift you give yourself. I had spent many years, decades even, holding contempt toward a person that I love dearly. It was a daily struggle related to events that had occurred long ago that I could not let go of. One day I realized that this person never meant to hurt me and likely doesn’t know how badly I do hurt related to the past. I have been treated well the past few years and finally was able to reflect inside myself and accept this as an apology as I could feel the love and care that I received from the one who didn’t really know how deep my pain was. Since that time, I have allowed myself to open up and our relationship has flourished. I no longer hold the negativity and am able to truly enjoy a person that means so much to me.
7. Mistakes are simply lessons to learn:
As a semi-reformed perfectionist, I often would decline to even try new things for fear of failure. Today, I embrace every mistake I make, and I allow myself to make them often. I am amazed and thrilled at the lessons I have learned. My youngest daughter is so much like me in this aspect that even as a baby she wouldn’t speak until her enunciation was perfect. I would hear her mumbling to herself, but she refused to have conversations until she was sure she wouldn’t fail. We are both a work in progress with overcoming perfectionism, but it is very liberating when I don’t let it get the best of me.
8. Quality over quantity when it comes to friendships:
This lesson was a slap in the face to me and it was a hard adjustment. While I was in my previous relationship, we had many couple-friends that were mutual. We gathered often in a social setting and I became very close to many of them. I would often hear from the women of the group how poorly I was treated and how they didn’t know how I put up with the abuse. Of course, I justified it as I longed for a relationship without it. When I made the difficult decision to get out of the relationship, many of these same women began gossiping about how I destroyed my marriage. I now have a couple close friends, who have remained constant to me throughout an extremely difficult time in my life. These are the friends that I would not want to go through life without and I am blessed to have them.
9. We are treated the way we allow others to treat us:
I have been kicked, spit on, called names, assaulted, and ran over by a steam roller. The first of those are true… there really hasn’t been a literal steam roller. Each time I returned for more, I lowered my head and built up my wall, but I continued to allow it to happen, even justifying it. In allowing this, I began to believe it is what I deserved and that I was not worthy of anything else. You must believe that you are worthy of love and respect to be loved and respected. If you allow yourself to be steamrolled, you will be. If you respect yourself and do not allow others do disrespect you, this will be true for you.
10. Life is about the journey, not the destination:
As cliché as this sounds, it is so true. If you are most concerned about the end, the final result, you will miss so much. Life is not being born and dying. Make a point to enjoy your life, take the back roads, observe what is wonderful around you and live through the eyes of your children. The doing, seeing, and being is much more thrilling than the outcome.
11. People deserve a second chance (sometimes even a third or fourth):
Some of the best relationships I have built have come from giving a second chance. Some of the people I have lost in my life because I refused to give them a second chance. I will be forever grateful for those that have given me a second chance, without it, I could be in a very different reality than I live. A word of advice though, if a person wears out their chances with you, evaluate it carefully. For some, it may be exactly what they need; for others, it may be a way to break you down. Stay strong, respect yourself and give the chances others deserve.
12. Loneliness is very different from solitude:
Solitude is good for us; it is being alone without feeling lonely. Being in solitude can be an amazing thing. It allows you to be alone with your thoughts and your dreams. It allows time for reflection, for meditation and for personal growth. Loneliness is a sense of emptiness and can be felt whether you are physically alone or with others. It is best to find a person that can be your companion. Find a person that you do not experience loneliness when you are with them, and are able to practice reflection and personal growth with their encouragement and without distraction.
13. Courage is not the absence of fear:
Another tagline you have probably heard more times than you care to, but it makes the list of hard learned lessons. The times in my life I had to be the most courageous were the times when my fear was the greatest. I made very difficult decisions in very difficult times because I knew that changes had to be made. These include times of being without a home, times of protecting myself and my children, times of leaping into the unknown because the known was so painful. Courage is finding strength in the face of pain, grief, or fear. Courage means you do not let the fear stop you.
14. Having the right people to share your life with makes all the difference:
This is a BIG one! I am sure you have put the pieces of my puzzle together already but in case you haven’t… I was in an abusive relationship for over 16 years. Through this my friends were his friends’ wives and girlfriends; I had only minimal contact with my family and was not allowed to have any life outside of work and the home. In leaving that relationship, my eyes were opened to the amazing people I had been missing out on. My sister and I reconnected and she is the most amazing person I could ask to be in my life. I was able to rebuild friendships with 2 wonderful women that consistently show me what true friendship is. I have reestablished relationships with both of my parents and am so lucky to have their support. I am able to thoroughly enjoy my children in a stress free, almost whimsical, way. I am finding what it feels like to receive true, unconditional love from a significant other. I am able to be me. Unapologetically, me! I am able to enjoy each and every minute we spend together and am always looking forward to the next. I have so much joy, passion and adventure in my life. It is truly awesome how much positivity can be in your life if you only allow those in who want to be there and treat you well. I am very blessed to have my tribe.
I have endured. I have been broken. I have known hardship. I have lost myself. But here I stand, moving forward, growing stronger, finding myself. I will never forget the hard times in my life. They have made me who I am, and I am really starting to like me.