With so much tragedy in the news lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about life, death, and life lessons. I’ve also been thinking about what saved my life years ago.
There have been times in my life where I wanted to die. I think we’ve all been there.
I hated myself to the core. I hated that I was so desperate for crumbs from toxic people and I hated that as an adult, I was still trying to be one of the cool kids.
I was also ashamed of how little I valued the good people in my life.
As a result, I committed emotional suicide and adopted unhealthy habits that allowed me to gradually, contribute to my own physical death.
Looking back, this is what I now know:
When I wanted to die, I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.
In my early twenties, when I was boundary-less, smoking cigarettes, needing a cocktail just to have enough confidence to carry a basic conversation, and not taking care of my health… I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.
When I would …
- Engage in petty gossip
- Need an opposing force just to feel motivated enough to take action
- Compulsively lie to compensate for my insecurities
- Create drama just to feel significant for a hot minute
… I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.
When I blamed myself for being emotionally orphaned by a well-intended yet unavailable parent…
I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.
None of the above ever turned out well or felt good. Obviously.
So why did I continue?
Because I couldn’t bank on the unpredictability of happiness. Every time I did, the other shoe always dropped.
My own misery was at the very least, predictable.
So here they are, some life lessons that saved me from robbing myself of my own life. I would be dead if I hadn’t implemented and acted on these.
Here are 17 important life lessons that literally saved my life
1. Be kind in your honesty, never brutal. And be honest in your love, never tough.
2. Don’t ever think that “It’s all going to fall into place,” without you meeting the universe halfway and being an active participant in that desired result. Hard work, awareness, knowledge, and acting on that knowledge is what puts it all into place.
3. Be real about rejection.
Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a significant other, your ex, or someone you’re dating…
If you are dealing with a toxic person, it is never you that they’re rejecting.
What they’re rejecting is having to be: accountable, respectful, honest, mature, and communicative. They aren’t withholding any riches from you here. These people didn’t have the capacity to be these things before you, with you, nor will they have that capacity after you.
4. Don’t try to question or conform. Get out of the way when it comes to controlling behavior.
Whenever I encounter someone that tries to control me (and/or others), I have to remember that this:
At some point in their life, this person felt extreme powerless.
That powerlessness traumatized them and this is their only way of coping with it. This used to be me. And I was never conscious of my behavior until I lost someone whose absence hurt more than not being able to control them.
5. People will dislike you.
People are judging you, right now. Some people will never like you for no good reason and there’s nothing you can do about it. No amount of people pleasing, convincing, catering, or empathizing will help.
In fact, I’ve found the opposite to be true – the more firmly, honestly, and authentically you stand for something, the more others respect you (some will ass kiss, some will go silent because they won’t know what to say, some will try to critique/investigate further), whether it’s grudgingly or not.
What people truly respect (and what scares the sh*t out of toxic people/makes them want you more) is when you have boundaries. You draw your own line and through dignified action, say “Here’s the line. You will not go any further.”
They won’t like this, but who cares? They’ll either respect it or be envious of it because it’s the one thing they can’t do. If someone doesn’t like you, there’s no point in ever trying to convince them to. Just live YOUR life. These people are clearly miserable living theirs.
6. Stay away from selectivity.
You have the right to reject anyone who selectively respects, selectively loves, selectively empathizes, selectively values, selectively commits, or is selectively honest with you. You not only have the right to reject and stay away from these people, but you also have the right to NOT feel guilty about cutting them off.
7. You know yourself better than anyone else. You are the C.E.O. of Y.O.U. Don’t ever let the opinions, actions, or inactions of others control what you wear, say, do, don’t do, who you are friends with, and who you date. No one knows you better than YOU.
Adopt this life lesson and you’ll live a much easier life. One that includes the suggestions (no longer viewed as personal criticisms/attacks), from others. Suggestions that you can either take or toss.
8. Keep creating. It disables the obsession with what other people think.
James Altucher, says it perfectly:
“There are other bad habits. Like thinking too much what other people think of you. But whenever you create something new, you become a threat to all around you. And when you’re a threat, you’re a target. And when you’re a target, people will try to put you down and trash you. It will be irrational. It will be crazy. It will be frustrating and scary and make you angry. Just assume all people are irrational. Keep your expectations low on other people. Not that they are bad. But that they are lonely and they find friends who are eager to take you down. Let them make their friends and have their fun. You’re already having yours.”
9. You can’t take someone more seriously than they take themselves, nor can you hold them to a higher standard than they hold themselves to.
10. Everyone obsesses.
Some people are better at hiding it than others, but trust me on this one – everyone is just as insecure and in their own head as you are. And just because some may be better at playing it off, that doesn’t make them any smarter or better than you.
11. Stay away from people who have to decide and claim versions.
I don’t wake up every morning, look in the mirror and say, “Natasha, you are going to be a good person today; you have to be honest.” I just am.
Stay away from the people who have to mantra/hypnotize themselves into humanity, honesty, and integrity. Also, stay away from people who claim that the truth has versions.
12. You will never get anyone to see in you what you don’t see in yourself.
And if someone does see something in you that you don’t see in yourself… you’ll wear them out.
Conversely, you will get people to see in you what you DO see in yourself (this applies to desperation, insecurity, feeling unworthy… you name it).
If you’re lucky, they’ll think you’re awkward and leave. If they’re toxic, you’ll blink your eyes and all of a sudden, you’re the doormat for their dirty boots.
13. As long as you don’t respect yourself, you’ll never truly respect anyone who respects you.
It took me a while to learn the value of being attracted to what was good for me instead of what triggered me into becoming a performing circus animal.
14. Redefine passion.
If you have any kind of abandonment issues, parental issues, triggers or un-dealt-with trauma (I think that covers everyone on the planet), you will likely get more excited from finding a drop of water in an empty well than a gallon of water in a plentiful well.
And that’s okay.
We are wired to want what’s in limited supply. This is why so many of us are addicted to romantic love – hot/cold, up/down, yes/no, Jekyll/Hyde intensity (which we mistake for intimacy).
It keeps us on our emotional toes, but at what cost?
I’m not suggesting that you settle. What I am suggesting is to take a hard look at how you define passion.
If a few hot moments come at the cost of your mental health, it’s time to fold. Passion is not all about feeling sexually turned on. If you feel turned on immediately when you meet someone, that may be a sign that you’re sexually deprived. But it’s always a very normal confirmation that you are the sexual orientation that you are. It will never be a sign that you’re in the presence of a soulmate.
True love is LINEAR. This is why Johnny Cash sings “because you’re mine, I walk the LINE.” – NOT the triangle, octagon, or relational quadratic equation. You will reclaim your life the moment you say “no thanks” (with your actions) to competing, being right, being chosen, or being good enough for a toxic person to change.
15. Don’t pearl-label.
One of my favorite life lesson quotes by Hugh Hefner:
“My Mom said that she herself had been raised in a very oppressive home, so she had been unable to show that affection. And I said to her, “Mom, anything that you may have done that was less than ideal was a blessing. It motivated me to create the world I have created and accomplish what I have accomplished.
Sometimes it’s the sand in the oyster that creates the pearl. You need some irritation. You need some repression or some conflict. And my life would have been much less satisfying if I didn’t have that.”
Don’t try to pearl-label people who have proven, time and time again to be your sand. Appreciate the sand and accept it for what it is: a primer for YOU to evolve. Don’t waste your precious time trying to turn the sand into a pearl. That’s not your job.
16. People will always have a reaction to 1) your successes 2) your failures 3) your evolution. Pay attention to how those closest to you react to not only your 1’s, 2’s and 3’s, but also, how they react to other people’s.
This will tell you everything that you need to know about them.
17. The difference between a person that everyone wants to know and a person that everyone knows they can use? Boundaries.
You were not born to be a doormat.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.