As raindrops pound on my rooftop, I feel thankful that I forgoed plans to spend the afternoon at the park. Since the evening before, they have been relentless; behaving like a jealous lover, demanding that the object of his love open up the door and let him in. Commitment and consistency whispers my name. Commitment to myself and my progress and to you, my readers. I respond. Resisting the urge to spend the afternoon under the covers, I bundle myself up into a sweater and sit half excited and half reluctant at my desk. A smile of satisfaction beams across my face as I complete this first paragraph. It is the eve of my 45th birthday!
“Mummy you getting old”, my daughter jokingly said to me; but celebrating my 45th birthday feels more like a milestone. During the preceding weeks I had been contemplating a lot about the lessons I have learned during the 45 years granted to me on this earth. After all, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, so says Socrates. Thus, I have chosen to share with you what I believe to be the 5 most important lessons I have learned.
Lesson # 1
Topping my list is that decisions and choices have consequences and forgiveness does not necessarily equal an omission from these consequences. I learned this one very early on. At age 18 I became pregnant. I was petrified at the thought of having to tell my father that I was pregnant, but no amount of praying and asking God for forgiveness and to take away the pregnancy made it go away. Regardless of my circumstances at home, I made the decision to engage in premarital sex and one of the consequences, among others, was teenage pregnancy.
The struggle of being a single mother was oh, so real! What is important though, is that I learned and I grew as a result of the experience. I did the best I could at raising my son and though my earthly father and my baby’s father, would have left me; I am thankful that my Heavenly Father did not leave me. He was always there for me; especially when times got really tough, He always made a way.
Lesson # 2
My second lesson; comparison is the thief of all joy! This quote is accredited to Theodore Roosevelt, I added in the word ‘all’ for emphasis. Having had brushes with issues of poor self-esteem, depression and anxiety, it became important to my mental health and survival that I learn not to compare myself to others. My life’s circumstances and experiences have been different from theirs. Therefore, how can I compare myself to them? By comparing myself to others, I was doing myself an injustice and forcing myself into an unhappy and depressive state.
Fleetingly comparing ourselves to someone else is something I believe we all do at some point but to consistently internalize this attitude is detrimental to our well-being. Compare yourself only to yourself. Are you a better person today, than you were yesterday?
Lesson # 3
My third lesson was a game changer for me. Once I learned this lesson I found that my self-confidence elevated and I felt happier with myself. The lesson; do not seek validation from others. My poor self-esteem issues and other childhood trauma may have contributed to the habit of needing validation. The truth is we all have a need to be liked, admired and praised by others, especially for our gifts or accomplishments. However, to constantly seek others approval and base our sense of value on what others think, is not healthy and will only do us harm.
Elizabeth R. Thornton author of The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are, reported that 55% of respondents in her research responded that their self-worth was often, more often, or always tied to what others think. Charles Cooley, offers an explanation for this phenomenon in his looking glass theory. The theory postulates that we evaluate ourselves based on what others think of us. Thus, based on Cooley’s work, the quote “I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am”, has become well known.
“What other people think of you is none of your business.” I don’t know where this quote originated but the first time I heard it was from motivational speaker and author Lisa Nichols. If you ask me, these are words to live by. Make them your mantra and stop seeking validation from others. Your value and self-worth is not dependent on the opinion of others, neither are your gifts, and what you have to offer the world. The need for validation certainly has the potential to cause you to suppress your gifts or even steer you off your path to using those gifts and using up all of your potential and even reaching your dream.
Lesson # 4
Lesson number four is, ditch fear. I continue to use as one of my mantra, “fear is only false evidence appearing real”. This also helped me to become more confident and brave. Fear can impede our growth and cause us to miss out on some awesome things in life. Les Brown in one of his motivational talks says, “some of us prefer known hells, rather than unknown heavens.” Ditch the fear and the known hell and go for the unknown heaven, you just may be surprised by the outcome.
Fear and disobedience lead the Israelites to spend 40 years in the wilderness on a journey that should have taken 11 days. They feared dying in the wilderness and cursed Moses saying that he should have left them to serve the Egyptians (a known hell), but Moses told them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today.” My advice to you is the same, do not be afraid!
Lesson # 5
Lesson number five; personal development is hard work but well worth the effort. It is my belief that personal development is a lifelong affair; it never ends. However, it has to be intentional. It is also not always a walk in the park; it takes time, it takes effort and it takes discipline, but the benefits are enormous. I was listening to a talk by Jim Rohn recently and he said, “the greatest gift you can give to someone is your personal development.” Your personal development not only benefits you, but those that are important to you, as well as everyone you meet. Through your personal development you can make an indelible impact on the world.
There you have it; the five most important lessons I have learned.
- Choices have consequences.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Do not seek external validation.
- Ditch fear.
- Personal development has to be intentional, it is also hard work but rewarding.
As I transition into another period of my life I am excited about the other lessons life has to teach me. What is life without learning? Life is such that it teaches us lessons all the time, we just need to stay attuned and be willing to learn and thus grow. Once the lessons are learned we become better and stronger individuals. I especially like this quote from Brian Herbert, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I would love to keep the conversation going. Please leave me a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me which of these five lessons resonated with you or what valuable lessons you yourself have learned along life’s way.
Want to read more? My mother and I share the same birthdate; November 23rd. She gave birth to me on her 15th birthday. Check out our unique story and my tribute to my mother here.
Until next time, stay safe and be blessed! 😊