Last week I headed off to the woods for my regular trip to a log cabin where I take some time out from the world.
The beauty of a trip like that is not only snuggling in to rest (with Kali, of course) and doing all of the things that I love (can you ever read too many books and watch too many movies? I think not!), but also the opportunity for some serious introspection and reflection on where I've been recently, and not so recently...
You see, I’m a firm believer that this Soul Journey of ours is all about learning, and maybe if we all shared our lessons with one another, then it would be a little bit less scary and a bit more fun.
So after a few days out for introspection, I thought I'd share what I've realised are my my top seven (one for every day I was quiet on social media) lessons from the last few years of Soul work and inner journeying… and actually from the whole of this life so far.
1. Shy bairns get nowt
If you’re from anywhere other than North East England this line probably makes no sense at all, so let me start by explaining that “bairns” is Geordie” for children and “nowt” is Northern for “nothing”.
So to translate, this one means if you stay quiet and hide away then you’ll get nowhere – a lesson I first learned when I was eight and missed out on the lead role in the school pantomime because I spoke too quietly (cue a very shouty “audition” to be the Fairy Godmother…).
Since then I’ve learned that it’s a bloody important lesson to bear in mind; whether that means shouting about the things that are important to you, taking a chance on something that scares you, saying no regardless of what other people may say or think sometimes we all need to remember to feel that fear and just bloody do it!
2. Embracing my cycle
I’ve talked before about how the amazing book Code Red by Lisa Lister changed my life; because it suddenly re-introduced me to myself in a way I could understand.
It showed me that just because I feel, or even act, that way for a few days of every month I’m not as anxious, lazy or greedy as I’d always thought I was, but that actually this was just my hormones asking to be listened to and my body needing some attention in different ways throughout the month.
The more I tuned into those signs – and to myself – the more I started to recognise myself as continually changing, bloody strong in any number of areas on particular days and as able to connect better with myself and the world around me.
I love Lisa and her work, and have lost track of how many people I’ve recommended Code Red to over the years, but I’m not sorry; I firmly believe that tuning into our cyclical nature (be that because we bleed regularly or through the moon) is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
3. Go your own way
Why yes, I am singing Fleetwood Mac as I type this, and if you’re not then I definitely suggest you click here and give your ears a treat as it’s an absolutely necessary soundtrack to this part of the post!
The world will tell us all that there are easy paths to take; the world will even show us that there are easy paths to take and remind us time and time again that many people are perfectly happy taking those paths.
But that doesn’t mean we have to do the same.
Whether it’s in your work, your relationships, the timings you live your life by, the way you dress or the things you do to fill your free time going your own way can be scary, and at times it can be bloody lonely. But following the callings of your own self and heart ahead of those other people give you can also be more powerful and wonderful than anything else you’ll ever do.
Don’t be afraid – as the old line goes “everything’s waiting for you.”
4. Just because you think it’s easy doesn’t mean everyone else does
Years ago I was talking to an old boss about how my skills really weren’t that impressive.
After all, listening? Connecting with people? Surely they’re easy things anyone can do!
“No,” he told me, “for some people they take a lot of work. You just think they’re easy because you’re so good at them.”
It’s a line that’s stuck with me ever since; that just because something seems obvious and easy to us doesn’t mean that it does to everyone… and so doesn’t mean that they’re not special skills that other people really value in you.
Whatever your skills, talents and specialist subjects may be, never ever be afraid to embrace and celebrate them!
Of course the reverse works too… just because other people think something is easy, doesn’t mean that you have to. Whether we’re exchanging cold hard cash or swapping skills, we exchange energy so we can not only be compensated for our own skills and how they can help in the world, but also so that we can make the most of other people’s skills too.
And whether your skills are helping people to laugh or helping people to heal; making the world more beautiful or helping processes to run more smoothly they are no more or less important than any other, regardless of what the capital markets may tell us about any one thing.
Each of our individual skills and abilities are just as valid and important to the world as the other, and I promise that your world will start to seem brighter and better the moment you start to celebrate your own natural strengths rather than wishing you were more or less of something else.
A little note: This photo is of me at Machu Picchu at the end of a solo round the world trip. The travelling alone was the bit I found easy; the trek through the mountains? Definitely not!
5. I am perfect for all that is perfect for me
Keeping with that theme I know I’m not alone in saying that I spent a lot of time believing I wasn’t enough – not clever or experienced enough for jobs I wanted; not pretty or desirable enough for the people I liked and so on.
Of course now I know that’s not true – that idea of being “not enough” is just a state of mind that can always be changed… and has! But along the journey to accept that, I realised something else too; that my idea of “perfect” isn’t necessarily right for everyone.
Take Chris Evans for example. Captain America is pretty much my dream man; to me he’s about as perfect as a man gets. Yet not everyone will feel the same; someone who wasn’t such a crazy dog parent might roll their eyes at his canine BFF, a person who didn’t love Saturday afternoons in a stadium would probably be a little turned off by his love of all things sporty; and although I swoon a little every time he gets political, I guess if you have less liberal views or hate talking about the state of the world you’ll likely hold that against the man. Perfect for everyone? No. But ticking enough boxes to be my dream man? Oh hell yes.
And that’s something that can be transferred across all sorts of situations – the reminder that there is no universal “perfect”; just people, situations, experiences and plans that are the right fit for each of us. My advice is to stop worrying about the things that don’t fit us and start focusing on those that do.
And of course that includes the fact that maybe the situations that seem right to us from the outside really won't be on the inside... Maybe Chris Evans has some really irritating habits that would take a serious compromise to live with; or maybe there would be deal breakers there which would mean he wasn't right for me at all (like if he smelled really bad or hated Harry Potter, neither of which I believe, for the record ;-) ) And that's OK too. Life is a journey of living, learning, compromising where we can and moving on from those things that turn out to be horrendously wrong for us after all; all in the certainty that the things which are right for us will fit much more comfortably.
To paraphrase the wonderful Glennon Doyle, you will be too much for some people – and situations – those are not yours.
6. Good things come to those who wait
I have a tattoo on my back that means “to wait with certainty and allow your faith to carry you along”, all based on the idea that patience and faith are my greatest lessons in life
For the longest time I was seriously impatient and would get irritated every time I had to wait longer than expected for pretty much anything at all. Not in the way of the person who told me back in my McDonald’s days that she would stab me if her quarter pounder took more than two minutes, but about the bigger stuff – you know.
After the dream message from my Nanna that inspired my tattoo I became really conscious of that idea of patience and would actively remind myself to surrender every time I started to feel frustrated or anxious about life not going according to the plan I’d set for myself…
But it didn’t always work.
Honestly, the frustrating thing about patience is that the thing that helped me learn this lesson the most was – you guessed it – time. Sigh. But it’s not the only thing that helped.
Other things were building my connection to the wider Universe and to something greater than me; and also building my connection to myself. I know, it probably sounds really cheesy but it’s true. Because the more I started to develop my connection to the Universe the more I started to have faith that everything will work out, and likely better than I could ever write or force it (seriously, who am I ever to think I always know the best ways forward?!).
And the more I built and developed my connection with myself, the more I learned to trust in the power of my own pace, and the ability of myself to create the things I want, even if it takes a little while.
7. Numbing the pain doesn’t make it go away
Number seven, and possibly the toughest one I’ve learned over the past few years.
I say this as someone who drank alcohol regularly for years, who ate at least one bar of chocolate a day for years, and who continuously surrounded herself with people and noise for the longest time.
All those things that distracted me from the icky stuff I didn’t want to feel and the frustrating things I didn’t want to pay attention too? They didn’t fix anything. In fact, all they ever really did was numb what I was actually feeling.
Of course I still worked on my Soul journey and on healing the things that were holding me back… but it wasn’t until I stopped numbing and concentrated on the things that had always screamed at me to be numbed that the healing really started to take effect.
That’s not to say you must give up chocolate or booze, become a hermit or never buy another designer handbag again; but more to ask you to investigate the things that cause you to reach for those numbing tactics.
I would eat chocolate when I was stressed for example – so by working on fixing the stress and the patterns that caused it I found I not only stopped craving chocolate quite so much, but also felt better without it too.
Whether it’s to relax, to feel better, to actively quieten our minds or something else entirely, we all have things we reach for to change our mood; but getting to the root of the problems we’re self medicating is so important if we want to change those habits, and make ourselves happier in the process.
So there we are, my favourite seven lessons so far on this journey through life. Ask me again in a year, a month or even a week and they might well be different, but isn’t that what learning, growing and changing what life is all about?
If you’re struggling with any of these, or with the lessons you know your Soul is asking you to learn, then get in touch – Soul-Centered Counselling offers a safe and supportive space to work through even the toughest of lessons and patterns.
Meanwhile I’d love to know – what are your biggest lessons in life so far? Tag me in you post on Instagram using @miss_cmr!