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15 Lessons to be Learned from Life Challenges in Your Path to Self-Discovery

Every experience in life provides you with invaluable information, if you listen carefully for the lessons to be learned. Here’s how to do it.“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~ Bernice Johnson Reagon

What has life taught you? Have those life lessons made you hold back from experiencing life to the full? Painful experiences can cause us to withdraw from exposing ourselves to that kind of hurt again.  But there is a way to process the hurt and turn it into a stepping stone that leads you to a full, meaningful and rewarding life. 

The first thing to do is recognize that every challenging experience in life provides you with invaluable information…if… you’re attuned to hearing the lessons to be learned. I realize that some of the lessons learned may be very painful, so you may resist them initially. But don’t make the mistake of pushing them away. Instead, if today’s life lesson feels like too much to process, I urge you to journal about your experience as it happens, so you can revisit it later to glean the lessons hiding within.

I’ve made it a habit to regularly review my life and the lessons I’ve learned. I love philosophy. I appreciate the thinkers’ observations about life, religion, and the world in general. I get lost in my own thinking and observation about my life and struggles. What felt like “not belonging” urged me to seek and find my unique path to self-discovery. What Jane Goodall said really resonates with me,

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

From the time I was 16 years old, I knew I wanted to be a therapist/coach, helping and supporting people’s personal and professional growth. When I was a teen, I was in turmoil. I wanted to figure out my place in my family and in my world. What I didn’t know then is that the profound angst I was experiencing was the energy/push/motivation I needed to get where I am now.

Along my journey to self-discovery, I’ve put to words some life lessons that are life-affirming, if you’re open to letting them sink in. Which of these lessons resonate with you? Which have you already learned, and which are you still grappling with?

15 life lessons to be learned from my Therapist/Coaching Career…

1) The way you do one thing is often the way you do many things. You have patterns for moving through the world — the way you eat, communicate, or use resources. Practice mindfulness around how you relate to everything and everyone, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself.

2) A mindfulness practice makes you aware of behaviors and the thoughts and emotions behind them. Learning to observe without judgment is one of the most potent skills you’ll ever learn. You’ll be able to sort through responses that serve you and those that don’t. Then you can step-by-step create new behaviors that make you more resilient and resourceful.

3) Change is possible IF you start from where you are. You’re remarkably resilient, resourceful, and graced with neuroplasticity, so change is always possible. Resist comparing yourself with others and acknowledge you’re where you need to be to take the next step forward.

4) Identify, accept and name, not blame. While most parents do the best that they can, childhood experiences profoundly impact you. It’s important you name each emotional state you feel, without playing the blame game. This gives you the objectivity to process each one.  

5) Your trauma is YOUR unique experience.  Trauma can be a single event or a set of ongoing conditions, like neglect or ridicule that overwhelm you. This expanded view of trauma allows you to honor your experiences and find the healing you need

6). Value who you are, not what you do. There is no one else like you on this earth. Do the inner work to recognize and honor your unique personality traits. 

7) Personal healing leads to better relationships. Healthful relationships start with knowing your own value and values. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you invite them back into your circle.

8) Know your boundaries. Clearly stated boundaries lead to mutual respect. You’ll be able to seek out those that support you and eliminate relationships that are toxic, whether they’re in the family or in your community.

9) Be present in all of your relationships. When at work, honor your commitment to work. When with friends or family, honor your commitment to them.  Practice breathing exercises and mindfulness so you can leave distractions and stressors at your desk, so you can be fully present and engaged at home. 

10) Relationships take hard work. Just loving someone doesn’t mean you won’t hurt or be hurt. You’re both coming from different places and the goal of forming deeply meaningful relationshipsromantic, business, friendship, or otherwise — is to build on mutual commitment, trust, patience, forgiveness and intimacy.  

11) Expanding your emotional capacity is an ongoing process. Striving to master personal and social competencies isn’t just an intellectual exercise. It takes experiential application.

12) Embody self-leadership somatically. It takes time to get really good at feeling your feelings —observing how your emotions show up in your body sensations. As I often say, feelings are neither good nor bad. They are sources of information.

13) A holistic approach to health improves the quality of life. Without addressing all aspects of your person, your solutions will be incomplete. We are complex beings with mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.

14) What’s right for someone else isn’t right for you. We all have to blaze our own paths. Yes, we can observe and take ideas from others. But ultimately, you have to be true to yourself.   

15) It’s not all about me. We are interdependent beings on this planet. It’s a privilege and responsibility to be the best version of self so we can make the world a little bit better.

Today, looking back, I’m grateful for the path I chose (I often wonder — did I choose my path before being born?) I love the appetite for knowledge and longing for growth and expansion. I love realizing that this list of lessons learned will keep on growing.

A journal is an incredibly valuable tool in processing lessons learned, yet saying what you need to say out loud to a supportive coach is absolutely priceless. What lessons have you learned from life? I’d love to hear about them on my Facebook page. Are you having trouble processing, i.e. extracting,  life lessons from your experiences and would like to develop deeper mindfulness skills? Why not contact me for a free 30-minute consultation and let’s see if we’re a good match for working together!

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