4 Important Life Lessons Learned in February
A fairly short update for you all this month as I realise I haven't been blogging much and wanted to explain the reason. I've now made it to the final draft of the memoir I've been writing, with weeks of brutal editing and deep emotional work to explore some of the topics and add the depth it was missing. I feel like I've been working on this book for so many years after starting in the first UK lockdown in 2020. It provided so much comfort to me then, passed a lot of time stuck indoors and was so cathartic writing it. But admittedly, I was still quite close to some of the events mentioned and realised how much I needed this distance from it to focus on myself and my recovery, and write it in a hindsight way now that my life feels extremely different. So that's what I've been focusing a huge portion of my free time on and is something I've now started pitching and speaking to publishers about. It's a very long process and far from over but I've been in a real flow with it lately and feeling extra motivated to get it out into the world.
However, that's also why I decided to do this 'Little Life Lessons' series. So much happens each month, not even in the way of 'doing things' - as I'm writing this from the sofa in my PJs where I spend most of my time - but just in terms of lessons and insights. I really wanted to share mine each month as a self-reflection activity for me but to also still engage with you as regularly as I can.
So, after a mostly quiet on the social front but super busy on the personal development front, here are my February discoveries/lessons:
It's so freeing to own your story.
I used to feel as though I was failing at things when my life wasn't going to the planned timelines I'd created. I began to hide or justify my experiences for fear that my reality was 'wrong' or 'unsuccessful' based on what I could see from others. For so long I carried this feeling of being disadvantaged because of my surgeries, based on the comparisons I had been making to my best friends who were getting engaged and buying houses as I was learning to walk again. It's only whilst writing my book this year and doing deep emotional work with a life-coach to add depth to it, that I realised how much that constant comparison just held me back from processing and coming to terms with changes.
I spent a lot of time exhausted from justifying why things were/are the way they are and living in denial of certain events to avoid the pain of fully exploring and accepting them. I hadn't been courageous enough to fully own my story and every part of who I am. But being more 'real' lately has taken a huge weight off me and I've found so much power and strength in owning my story, being honest with my reality and removing any barrier, shame or pressure I previously felt to hide my imperfections. I feel like I've redefined my version of success and as a result of just owning my story, I finally feel free and accepting of it.
"When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending." - Brene Brown
Name to tame.
This one is new to me but since doing deep emotion work, I've discovered that any emotions left unaddressed don’t actually go away until they’re acknowledged. Anyone that knows me would agree I tend to shrug off emotions or keep them stored, potentially denying myself from experiencing pain or 'opening up a can of worms.' But I've recently been taught this incredible tactic that has really changed my life. It's a tactic called 'name to tame' and encourages you to notice emotions and begin to name them for what they are e.g. anger, grief, humiliation, excitement, threat, joy, rejection, shame, hope etc.
Previously, I've either never truly known how I'm feeling or I'm so confused at all the mixed up and erratic array of emotions flitting between gratitude and anger, or grief and excitement that I tend to ignore them as best as I can. But naming them has been so incredible at encouraging me to step back and disengage from the emotions. I'm able to recognise the way I'm feeling whilst still being in control of how I react to certain events, essentially 'taming' my emotions so that they lose their power and no longer engulf me in their strength.
Use this wheel if you're unsure how you are feeling - there are so many emotions!
Feeling discomfort is needed in order to grow.
It turns out that we're always going to feel some level of discomfort or imposter syndrome whenever we try anything new. I now understand that the discomfort I used to try and avoid whenever trying anything for the first time is actually needed in order to grow. There have been so many things this month that have required me to step outside of my comfort zone - appearing on a podcast episode, doing a live Q&A with a support group and even leading an entire project in my day job. Feeling that level of discomfort or fear is something I've naturally wanted to shy away from and yet the outcomes are exactly what I've wanted: on all occasions I've been able to get my core message and values across and truly make a difference to another person's life who is also recovering, adapting or trying to navigate past a challenge. Although I felt unprepared each time, I was able to develop personally and creatively and enjoy the process of learning. Feeling a level of discomfort whenever you try anything new is simply a part of the growth process and it's necessary to push yourself outside of your comfort zone every now and again in order to become the person you want to be.
There's no such thing as a problem-free life.
I love this discovery because it isn't even new - it's something I've learnt over the past two years given that apparently even brain surgery hasn't made me exempt from future woes. There will always be a problem but this month, I've had the opportunity to really be reminded of that again. And it's so crucial. My problems this month have been worlds away from some of the problems I had last year, or the year before that, but they are still problems and have conjured up some very similar emotions for me. That being said, the best part of realising that there is no such thing as a problem-free life is the ability it has to give you permission to stop worrying so much about the future.
There's no such thing as the 'I'll be happy when' trap that some of us have guiltily fallen into at times. When you rid yourself of this, you make room for the awareness of all the other possibilities available to you. As scary as a life of never ending problems may sound, it also offers immense freedom. No one has life completely figured out and no one is void of pain. You've made it through the challenges you've faced to get here today, and you have more strength than you realise to make it through the rest. Don't be hard on yourself.
Read my January review here and let me know if you're joining along/have any lessons to share with me 😊