Thank you 2019 for challenging me to be a better version of myself.
I know I am not alone in the fact that at times 2019 seemed really challenging and if I had to capture it in a sentence, I would say … 2019 has been a year of tremendous growth for me. Most of this growth, (like most growth) has come from being challenged and realizing that my familiar patterns were not helping me but rather causing my suffering.
There are two important lessons that I take away from 2019 that I thought I would share because they have been life-changing for me. And I don’t think I am alone in having to learn them!
The first lesson is lessons of love.
I have learned about love in so many different ways. First, I have learned that I (like everyone) am worthy of love, no matter what my inner critic tells me. This lesson came when I realized I was looking to my relationships to prove that I was lovable, after years of this pattern I finally realized it was not working! Although people have loved me, I never really truly believed it because I didn’t love myself.
Which is the second love lesson, I learned that what I really wanted all these years was to love myself. This was not a huge surprise as I had heard it forever, but what I didn’t know was that although I thought I loved myself (and I did to a certain degree) most of this love for myself was dependent on others’ opinions of me. I believe this was the birth of the ‘people pleaser’ personality in me. In my experience, I would ‘please’ others to gain their approval to prove that I was lovable. As soon as I realized this, I knew I needed to make some changes. These changes involved for the first time in my life putting myself first and breaking the pattern of ‘people-pleasing’ and always putting others first. I have to say that at first, this felt really uncomfortable as my pleasing others was so deeply ingrained. With practice and a lot of positive self-talk, this became easier and easier. I am sure as I continue to work on this pattern it will continue to get easier!
I guess you can say that 2019, was the death of my ‘people pleaser’ and the birth of my self-love. And self- love for me, was the acceptance of all of who I am; loving and embracing all parts of myself. Including the shadow aspects of my personality. This too took some effort on my part, as the parts of myself that I deemed as undesirable had been suppressed for so long that they felt foreign to me. To embrace them meant I had to face them and love them for what they are. This means that I can love the parts of me that can be mean, can be rude and can be selfish. They are all apart of what makes me, me and they are loved!
Once I stopped trying to hide the undesirable parts of myself and just loved where I was at and who I was, the more I could accept that others loved me too! See that’s the thing when we don’t love our self, then no matter what others say, or do we will never truly believe they love us. Too many of us look to others to prove that we are loveable and worthy of love. But we end up harming our relationships because we can’t accept love unless we accept love from our self first.
All of these lessons in love allowed me to open my heart … truly open my heart to others and to myself. Now having an open heart does feel vulnerable but I would rather be open and vulnerable than to not experience love in all of its warmth and joy!
Needless to say, this was a journey that took the better part of a year and although I feel like I am on the stable ground these are lessons that I will continue to work on into 2020.
The next biggest lesson in 2019 is that life is much better when I live in a state of flow. This one took a lot of conscious work on my part to counteract the cultural lessons that have been ingrained in me. To me living in flow is doing what brings me joy, on a minute to minute basis. Really listening to my intuition and my body on what is the best choice for me. At times these choices felt and still feel like a leap of faith. What I have realized now is that when I am not in a state of flow life is hard work … my body is tense, and my mind is chaotic, and my thoughts are overwhelming.
On the other hand, flow to me is a state of inner peace, it is a beautiful, calm, strong trusting place. Mostly this work required me to ask myself “am I doing this because it brings me joy” if the answer was ‘no’ then I didn’t do it! Even though that meant that at the time I was not doing the ‘acceptable’, if it did not feel right, then I didn’t do it.
These two lessons go hand in hand. It takes self-love to be able to stay in flow especially when you are going against cultural priorities!
Overall 2019, has been a year of tremendous growth for me, at times this growth felt like I was moving nowhere and at times it felt like I was going backwards. There was more than one occasion that I asked myself if I was crazy! But that’s the thing about personal growth if you are pushing yourself into new territory it is bound to feel awkward and uncomfortable. You are moving past patterns, that you have been working with for years.
I like to think of personal growth like the transition of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The transition that the caterpillar goes through is a difficult one. It takes all of its energy and inner strength to complete, and at times it is in pure agony, but when the wings start to form it is all worth it!
For me, I say good-bye to 2019 with a huge thank you for all that I learned, and I look forward to 2020 where I get to test out my new wings.
How about you-
What was 2019 like for you? I would love to hear if you are willing to share.