Things I would whisper to my younger self that I learned in my late 30’s so I could hack "suffering" the way I do now with my current mindset.
Lessons I hope to share that inspires you and impacts your sense of self so you don’t have to go through feeling stuck in life as I did then. I wish we had schools that would not follow the 1920s curriculum and teach us history, sociology, PE, calculus, trigonometry classes the stuff I sat through that I found boring. Nor do I find that information so novel that I couldn’t look that up on Google right now if I needed to. Because that was definitely not something that’s helpful to get through real-life changes such as CoVid. The essential life skills that I would need to maneuver through life in order to be successful and have a performance-driven mindset. So needless to say that I do think our school curriculums need a bit of an update since the 1920s.
I wish schools taught us — Importance of mental health, Self-care, Self-esteem, Mindfulness, Meditation & its 1000 benefits, How to identify trauma and heal from it, Emotional Regulation, Wealth Management, Negative thoughts restructuring, Sexual Talk — not the G rated version, Boundaries, and concepts of Self-Love, Forgiveness, and Letting go.
Don’t know about you but pre-teens up till mid-’20s looked pretty rough for me. I know a lot of us wish that only if we knew these invaluable life lessons in our 20’s we would have suffered so much less. Current research on trauma suggests that the prefrontal cortex (the decision making, logical, judgment, and perceptive left hemisphere of our brain doesn’t develop completely till we are 27 years old. It used to be 25 years old but recent neuroscience and trauma research has now pushed it to 27 years now). Suffering is a very subjective experience and everyone goes through it based on their perceptions, values, and beliefs of the events. But that’s a lesson an invaluable lesson in itself.
So when people in their early 20’s express to me that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I smile and ask them to hold on to their horses and not rush into that. I ask them to settle their nerves by letting them know their brains aren’t completely developed yet to be panicking about it just yet. But instead, I would ask them to work on developing these important life skills that will help them be more resilient and look at life from a glass half full and a positively intelligent perspective than a glass half empty.
Here are the 5 lessons I would like to share with you with the hope that it triggers you to change your current mindset and help you transform yourself into the best version of yourself:
1) Trauma happens to almost everyone its how you chose to process it and learn from it:
I use the word trauma here because being a trauma specialist I believe that trauma lies in the eye of the beholder and almost everyone at some point in their lives goes through it. Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience(s).
What has an effect on someone might not affect the other. Don’t let anyone minimize your hardships. Learning boundaries and knowing that we have very limited time on this earth so not wasting it pleasing others but learning these important life lessons that will build resiliency and make you stronger when faced with adversity. People that are meant for us will stay, and be supportive and kind through it all, and those that have stopped serving their purpose and aren’t aligning with our higher purpose are meant to be left behind. Grief and loss are part of life. It's not how many times we fall but it's how fast we pick ourselves back up each time by learning new lessons and applying the lessons we learned from our hardships.
2) Change is the only constant we have:
I was so resistant to change in my early days and hated it and found myself resisting it so much. We often resist change so much and in the process live in so much distress. This year has been a classic example of that. It's not that on December 31st, 2020 all our problems and worries from this year switch off and they go away. But what we can do is hit a reset button on our mindset and shift it from “why me” to “what am I learning from this year”. Learning to beat ourselves up less for our mistakes, and learning to be more open to making the mistakes and as a result, you’ll learn more, you’ll be more, you’ll learn faster and you’ll stay blissful longer. We keep getting the same tests over and over till we pass it. If the changes you make this year help shift your mindset then anything else that comes your way you will be able to beat it with ease and stay grateful through it.
After every valley, expect a mountain, and don’t expect either of those to last. But instead, live and cherish the present so when you are in the valley you know you will climb yourself up to the mountain top someday with the lessons you learned the last time around.
3) Suffering is a gift: It will teach you to be resilient and stronger if you ask yourself the right questions going through it:
Let me explain before you roll your eyes. This is coming from a girl who endured sexual trauma in her teens, who endured 3rd-degree burns where she almost lost her life right before one of the most important exams of her life. The exam so important that determined my career trajectory, where I grew up wishing to be a surgeon and ended up going to college for Nutrition Science and then Psychology instead. There is nothing wrong with those careers but that wasn’t what I had imagined my life path to be. Suffering is caused when something goes against what we expect it to be. How we deal with disappointments and traumatic life changes really establishes whether we are going to end up being a person who is someone's survival guide someday vs someone who stays in victim mode and in a negative loop and doesn’t see the hope at all.
4) You are all you got — Journey towards self-love is the gift you will give yourself that will keep on giving.
We as humans are supposed to be social animals. Mammals seek social support for existence. But sometimes life has a strange way of bringing to our attention that the very people we deeply love and care about are the ones that might not last till the very end. You can’t pour from an empty cup, we can’t give what we don’t have. We have to be brimming with love in order to love others to the fullest. A relationship we have with ourselves first determines the quality of relationships we have with others. When we are filled with love, and keep practicing daily skills such as meditations, journaling, affirmations, breathwork, and other self-care we do to focus on our psychological well-being we don’t depend on outside validation to complete us. Most of my life I spent seeking love from the outside to replace the lack of love I felt for myself. And no matter what my partners did, it was somehow never enough. And then through a series of failed relationships I learned, I was given the same tests until I became and spiritually evolved into a person I was seeking all my life. It took a lot of cries, intrusive suicidal thoughts, and making the same mistakes over and over till I finally sought professional help for it to help me unshackle the chains of my past and make peace with everyone I thought who had wronged me. And most importantly process through all the hurt, pain, shame, anger, disappointments to finally make room for some love.
I learned to plant the seeds of love that I had lost for myself since I was 12 years old, that I still nurture as a part of my daily self-care practice. When we experience trauma we leave parts of ourselves there when we felt traumatized, so in order to heal that we have to do some subconscious blocks clearing work. I am proud to say that I have finally come to a place in my life where I understand that I am all I have got. People come and go, and I have to hold space for joy and pain to coexist. That I will not resist the sadness and heavy emotions that come as a result of losing someone but will know that it is temporary (whether it takes months, seasons or years to heal) and it too shall pass.
5) Live life with gratitude and you will have everything you are grateful for and more:
There is so much research on living life in gratitude and its effects on your physical health, on your sleep, on your immunity, on your ability to attract abundance when you vibrate at that frequency. Gratitude has surmountable benefits on your mind, body, brain, and spirit. People who live in a state of gratefulness trigger their parasympathetic nervous system which is the relaxation response of our body that balances our stress responses when faced with a challenge. So ask yourself everyday — 3 things you can be grateful for that you take for granted, and 3 things you could let go of today? I am grateful that I am safe, alive, and am about to launch my very first podcast called “Traumatic Transformations” to help people find hope, peace, and purpose so they can be the best version of themselves. I am letting go of my need to be perfect (it's an illusion I have created in my head that will just keep pushing itself farther like a mirage). I let go of the anger that doesn’t serve me and the unnecessary anticipated stress about things that I can’t control.
I believe that with all these lessons consistency is the key, practicing these life skills at least 2–3 times a week can help with neuroplasticity which changes your brain for the better. A healthier brain equates to a healthier body and mind and thus a wholesome spirit.
What’s holding you back from your personal growth? Examples — fears, limiting beliefs, trauma, relationships, lack of resources (books, courses, experts, knowledge), your current habits, or patterns?
If we want different results we have to do things differently. We can’t solve problems using the same thinking we used when we created them” ~ Albert Einstein.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram @gpatelcounseling for more inspiration, education on trauma, mindset, and mental wellbeing. Have a blessed and healed life.
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