Writing has been so difficult for me. In 2018 I wrote two pieces for my blog after coming off a great writing year in 2017. So here we are 3rd week of January 2019 and I’ve finally quieted my mind long enough to write my annual post of what I learned in the previous year. This will be my 3rd installation to this practice and probably the year I’ve seen the most honest and transformative change in myself. I turned 29 last summer and reconciling what my 20s has been and meant to me has been agonizing and inspiring at the same time. With my 30th birthday a little more than 7 months away, I stepped into 2019 determined to conquer some challenges I’ve been making steady progress on since 2015. Here’s what I learned in 2018.
Healing is About Processing Pain
American society and it’s quickly growing health and wellness industry has catapulted the word “healing” into our everyday lexicon. With soft pinks, deep browns, and ferns as a common aesthetics, the practice of “healing” is usually centered on feeling good. Allowing yourself to grow past your mental and emotional pain. When I decided to take my healing seriously and primarily be accountable to myself (see what I learned in 2017) I discovered that the process back to being healthy, starts with pain. There is no transformative process that takes place without pain. From childbirth to weight loss, financial literacy to education. We will rarely accomplish anything without emotional, mental, or physical discomfort. Healthy processing of pain is what healing is about. Processing pain is about learning healthy coping techniques. Without these techniques we have no choice but to return to our old ways of coping that usually lead back to more pain. If we can think of pain as being a purposeful tool to breaking through the walls our mind and experiences have built for us, as another emotion or sensation on a wide spectrum, we can make conquering it much more attainable. Researching and creating these new habits require patience. So, take in the full knowledge of what pains you and you’ll be on your first step to change. Recognize. Acknowledge. Accept. Act. These are the steps to changing your life.
Boundaries are the foundation of Self Love/Care
From a psychological standpoint, much of our emotional pain that we have experienced from other people is brought on by repeated offenses against our boundaries. Many of us learn that our boundaries are neither recognized or respected in childhood and naturally grow into adults who don’t know how to start resurrecting them for our mental peace of mind. Self-love and self-care are also popular words in the health and wellness lexicon and not surprising also focuses on feeling good. The love of self should translate to the healthy protection of self. Not allowing the ones who are interested in drinking from our cups to take but never replenish. People who insist on engaging with you, whether that be platonic-ally or romantically, must show a firm respect and appreciation for your boundaries. Most importantly, you must show a firm respect and appreciation for your boundaries. Setting boundaries was some of the toughest work I did this year. I had to set boundaries with my family, friends, and past lovers. I had to show myself that I could control the energy coming into and out of my life. Maintaining those newly developed boundaries was the most laborious part. When you’ve let people violate boundaries for so long, them seeing a big red stop sign on their next encounter looks more like an obstacle than a firm pronouncement. Regardless of the guilt, the shame, the impending loneliness we must stand decisively behind our choices and our boundaries. Those who refuse to respect your boundaries don’t truly care. They care more about their desire than your peace. If you don’t stand up for you, who will?
Build with Like Minded People
The first two lessons were lengthy and heavy, so I hope to make the last 3 concise. Build with likeminded people means stepping outside of your naturally developed circle of friends and family to converse and learn from people with similar goals as you. This experience brought so many amazing women into my life. I’ve been able to build, plan, and map out ideas with other female entrepreneurs and get valuable life advice in the process. It’s a little scary at first, but if you have confidence in your goals you’ll naturally attract others who also have confidence in the same goals. Find your tribe and always remind them how special they are.
Not to be confused with situational awareness (although they’re similar) is the act of observing your surroundings and yourself in the many day to day interactions we have with people and triggers. When we feel ourselves moving from the space of emotional stability, this is the time to engage, observe, and activate awareness. It is a skill that must be built over time. It requires you to think and examine your emotions before speaking. If we can master this skill we can learn when to acknowledge our triggers externally and when to move on without an exaggerated reaction. You save more energy for yourself and live more at peace with your choices when you act from observation and not from impulse.
Whew. This lesson right here was the doozy. Forgiveness of self and forgiveness of those who have done us wrong but never apologized are some of the hardest emotional battles I’ve taken on in my 20s. No one does this life thing perfectly. No one has all the answers and gets it right the first time, every time. Forgiveness is the key to truly moving forward. I had to forgive myself for not staying with my daughter’s father and then the following terrible relationship choices I made for myself to give her the two-parent household I didn’t have. I had to forgive my parents for not knowing exactly what to do when they were still kids themselves. The most difficult forgiveness, was forgiving myself for pouring so much love, time, and energy into people who did not have the same desire to pour into me. I spent so much of my 20s trying to convince others to love me properly when I could’ve been loving myself all along. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? So now I am grateful that I learned this lesson and am now doing everything in my power to love myself as thoroughly as I deserve. In return I’ve been a better mother, attracted better men, and have no unhealthy attachments. Life is good.