nineteen things I wish I had known early in life


One day when I was very young, a warm and benevolent voice said these things to me:

  • Wisdom is distilled pain. Everybody experiences loss, betrayal, and trauma. You can turn away from pain through denial or blame, but both keep the suffering inside you. You cannot get rid of your pain, but if you sit with it long enough and it will distill into wisdom.
  • Your demons are created by the pain you are avoiding. Locking up your pain in the dungeon where (you think) it can’t be seen it is the root of addiction. Your demons are there to prevent anyone from entering the dungeon or even knowing it’s there. The more shadow work you do, the more you can see the shadow in others. Befriending the prisoners in another’s dungeon is where angels fear to tread.
  • Life doesn’t care how you think it should be. Expectations are just idealized projections that have no real power. Life is not fair. Life doesn’t owe you anything. Accepting that is liberating.
  • You can’t control what happens to you in life, you can only control how you respond. Navigating life is like being on a sailing ship: you can’t control the wind, weather, or currents, you can only control the sails and rudder of your ship. If the wind blows against you, tack into the wind. If the weather is unpleasant, refer to #1.
  • Be curious about life. Be curious about other people. Be curious about your challenges. Be curious about your suffering. The only way around is through; curiosity is your drill.
  • When you are unable to say no, you cannot give a whole-hearted yes.
  • Choose a career that makes you feel alive. Many will spend 30 to 50% of their waking hours working; spend that time doing something you enjoy. If you choose a career that fills your bank account while it drains your soul, you will be unhappy. Fulfilment is the true wealth.
  • Certainty is the friend of decisiveness, uncertainty is the friend of learning. Steer a path between these two.
  • Never get too good at something you don’t enjoy.
  • If you climb over other people to get to the top, you will be standing on a mountain of people who want to see you fail.
  • The mind can be confused by complex decisions but the body & heart are not; use them to see the way forward. The right choice is the one that brings peace inside.
  • Being right is over-rated. Almost everything we humans think is true will be overturned within a few hundred years. Fall in love with your ideas, but don’t marry them. You will get more benefit from being kind than being right.
  • Waste no time trying to get someone to like you. Some people will like you and some people won’t, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Spend time with people you like who also like you. Dislike acts as a filter, keeping the right people in your life and everyone else out. Be thankful for the way dislike serves you.
  • When meeting someone new, first offer your trust in small ways. Test their integrity to see if they are worthy of more. Vulnerability with the right people is magical. Vulnerability with the wrong people is grist for your wisdom.
  • Don’t chose a partner based only on external factors like looks, social status or wealth. Look at how you feel when you are with them. Choose someone that you can have great conversations with, who makes you laugh; someone who enlivens you heart while bringing peace to your soul.
  • You can’t have great sex when you are stuck in a gender role. Your conditioning say’s that a man should be strong and a woman should be all things to all people (except herself). If you get past the gender expectations, you will see that men and women are more alike than different. We all want to be loved and treated with respect. We all want some combination of intimacy and freedom. Authenticity is the key to intimacy.
  • If you withhold your desires to avoid burdening your partner, you are withholding the gift of your vitality and passion. Share them without expectation of fulfillment; desires are important ingredients in the recipe of life; without them it’s bland.
  • Becoming more conscious is the act of disidentifying with the objects of your perception. You can experience a toothache without being the ache. You can experience anger without being angry. You are not your thoughts, ideas or creations. You are not your personal mythologies. You are not what you can see . . . you are that which sees.
  • You can see your body in a mirror, but you can’t see your consciousness. We can only get reflections of our consciousness from other people. Those reflections are like a fun house mirror, but it’s the best we’ve got. There is no hurry.

Ok, there really was no voice. And if there had been, I probably would not have understood it anyway. Some of these I learned by watching others, most I learned the hard way. If you are inspired by any of these, I invite you to leave some of your own life lessons in the comments below.

This entry was posted in Ashwada, Humanity, Psychology, Relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

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