It’s official, the other day (Aug 5) I turned a year older.
This birthday hit me a bit differently than the other 37 birthdays. Although this birthday was super low-key, it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. Why? Because I’ve already spent the year honoring and celebrating myself, and not only that, I’ve shared my self-care journey with my little family of 4 (my dog included). So my birthday was full of reflections and gratitude. Not to sound corny and cliche, but what’s left to ask of others when you, yourself, have a firmer grasp of who you are, plus when you can see the humanity in those around you. There’s no expectations or need for others to help make you feel special on your birthday, as you already know that you have a purpose, and there’s something unselfishly self-soothing with this thought that is both able to give and receive at the same time.
Also, this year, I had unloaded a tremendous amount of self-conflicting obligations, expectations, and illogical responsibilities, and I feel freer. This means I also unknowingly said goodbye to the mainstream expectations of busy birthday festivities that leave me sometimes tired and empty by the end of the night.
My seven biggest lessons this year:
- When you start working on yourself, you stop waiting for others to change.
This is such an empowering to gift to give yourself. To take back this power that we unknowingly give others. We are always in control of ourselves and what we choose to do within every moment of our lives. This is self-care and it also looks like building a life that you no longer need to escape from. I now understand that there’s no shame in self-improving so that I can show up and respond to life rather than dealing with life and needing to run away from it. Personal growth also is a process of learning to lie to ourselves less as our worse pain is almost always self-inflicted, we just don’t realize it. Many people may be blamed for our unhappiness, but no one is responsible for our unhappiness but us.
- Life is full of ups and downs.
It’s the inevitible and without these ups and downs, there’s no longer ‘life’. What else would there be to learn from? To be of service to? To have a purpose for? I believe that the universe never gives us things we can’t handle and it always has our backs if we choose to listen. It’s what we make of ourselves within these highs and lows that determines who we are. A happy life is not a life without struggle, but it is a life with meaningful struggle. Without struggle, our joy would be empty and meaningless. Although it’s hard to find light while within darkness, it’s the unvarnish truth that in every difficulty and discomfort there is an opportunity to improve, change, and be better.
- Whether you realize it or not, you’re always choosing what to give a f*ck about.
This is ultimately self-awareness. Unfortunately, most of us operate on autopilot and have been raised and living our entire lives in a certain conditioned way that we don’t stop to give ourselves a second thought to what and where we are giving our attention to. Our self-awareness determines where and who our time and energy is allocated to and what the actual f* we’re doing with our intention and motivation. When we become more aware of ourselves and our emotional state, we are better able to manage other elements of our lives as well – thus leading to making better choices on where to place our f*cks leading to a clearer mind and a better grasp of our emotional state.
- Life is but a series of contradiction and paradoxes.
Here are some examples:
– Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good.
– To deny negative emotions is to ignore useful feedback from the world.
– The avoidance of suffering, is in itself a form of suffering.
– The avoidance of struggle, is a struggle.
– Hiding from shame is to know of the shame.
– Generally the more we get upset over something we don’t want to hear, it means we really needed to hear it.
– All growth requires some loss – a loss of our old values, behaviours, even our old identity.
– Learning about trauma doesn’t heal trauma, knowing your pain, doesn’t remove pain. Until we adopt new behaviors, and beliefs in regards to these trauma and pain – nothing will change.
– You will never be happy if you’re consistently searching for what happiness consists of.
– Constant positivity is another form of avoidance.
– To be liked by all is to be loved by no one and to be ignored by most.
- The quality of relationships we have in our lives will dictate the quality of our life.
If the relationships that we hold in our life is fullfilling we will feel fulfilled. If these relationships are dreadful and unfulfilliing, we become dysfunctional. Depending on who we choose to associate our lives with, we can be broke but happy, successful and ashamed, live simply and satisfied, healthy and depressed.
- You are the thoughts you keep within your mind.
Pain may be the inevitable but suffering is an option. Since emotions and the body’s reactions are triggered by the thoughts we give attention to, we’re living in a world of thought: Our thoughts create our experiences, and thus, we experience what we think. This is where our choice to suffer typically resides.
- You can not escape the darkest parts of who you are.
Our demons are a part of us, the shadow of all the things we like about ourself, the things that make us who we are. Picking a fight with, or denying who we are is sure to lead us down a path to self-loathing and destruction. Instead, we must become friends with our darkself and integrate it into our lives.
This birthday celebrates me living a purposeful life within the journey of life. It’s about being aware of my thoughts, emotions, and feelings and not betraying myself for others. It’s about showing up, as my best self, ready to respond without reacting to others. But most importantly it’s about cultivating a life where I can be of service to others’ humanity and while honoring my own as well.