In my last post I shared our plans for the new year. I wanted to dedicate some space, though, to the lessons I learned in 2020. This year was particularly challenging for everyone. While the common sentiment is that we all can’t wait to say good riddance to 2020, I’m laying this year to rest with nothing but gratitude and peace in my heart. The personal struggles I faced caused some of my darkest moments but led to equally as much emotional healing and psychological growth through those experiences. I can definitely say that as I go to sleep for the final time this year, I’ll be deeply exhaling and releasing much of who I was when this decade began.
I’ve spent the final two months of 2020 delving deep into my journal to understand what can no longer serve me in our path forward. Why journaling? It forces you to come face to face with your feelings, in a time when we are very apt to distract away from our internal world via social media, TV time, or anything to zone out on and keep the mind busy and buzzing. I’m beyond grateful for the tools and literature which have guided me in discovering what to release and how to let it go. Here’s what I’m leaving behind in 2020:
Rigid rules or stories that keep me in my comfort zone
A huge life change like the one on our horizon doesn’t come without much psychological growth and expansion. When I take time to notice the stream of thoughts running through my mind, I often catch myself being a slave to stories that don’t serve me. Perhaps I get a sudden inspiration but then my mind comes in with all the steps and tasks I must first complete before I act on the inspiration. Though my intuition is pointing me towards something exciting and new, my mind tempers it with rules about “the right way” to do it. This almost always leads to me not taking action at all. This is exactly how your mind keeps you stuck in what’s comfortable and known, and prevents you from trying anything new. I’m committed to no longer serving these false stories anymore and listening in to the gut feelings that arise guiding me to do something now — not tomorrow, another day, or after ten other tasks are completed first.
Expectations placed on others
I’ve done much work to become more aware of the role my ego plays in my life. The ego is the mind-created self concept of who you are, the values and belief systems you live by, the things that are right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, etc. I’ve noticed that many times when I feel pain or hurt, it’s because something or someone didn’t meet my expectations. And because I know well that you can’t change another person to fit your expectations, the only thing to do is release yourself instead from needing things or people to be a certain way. A favorite bit of wisdom I often remind myself when I realize I’m feeling hurt by unmet expectations is this: 1) People’s behavior is never personal — it’s a reflection of who they are and how they feel about themselves. Remembering this allows me to release the initial pain I feel and move forward with lower expectations and more awareness for the power of my own mental health.
Relationships that can’t or won’t evolve
This is one of those hard truths that usually takes a lot of pain before you can see it for what it is. As I’ve gone inward and identified the deeper emotions driving my behavior, I’ve realized that many of my relationships lead to self betrayal on my part. I silence my opinions, bury my true feelings, and tolerate my reality being denied — all in an effort to “go along to get along”. In truth, these behaviors keep me small and leave me feeling wholly unheard, unaccepted, and unsupported. In 2020 I started speaking my truth about my feelings and needs in many of my relationships. What I hoped would lead to more authentic connections, in large part, had the opposite effect. People in these relationships villainized me, unfollowed me, stopped communicating with me, and otherwise completely withdrew from connecting. However, I found a lot of comfort and healing from reading the daily content and advice of Nedra Tawwab, a therapist and relationship expert I love to follow on Instagram. One thing she said that has stayed with my heart and allowed me to release the pain I once carried was, “You cannot create healthy relationships with people who are not interested in creating healthy relationships.” Until then, I’ll be compassionately keeping my space — and my peace — from relationships that hold unhealthy dynamics or require me to be inauthentic to myself.
2020 was a great challenge, and also a great teacher. It showed me where I needed to work to let go, evolve, and heal; to make room in my heart for greater things. To close this year and this chapter, I’d like to share a couple affirmations from some of my favorite accounts that have supported me in my growth and healing this year.
I understand that every storm that passes through is clearing the path for something bigger, brighter, and more bountiful.Alex Elle
Expansion doesn’t come from hard work alone. The expansion of one’s life is directly proportionate to the expansion of one’s heart and mind.Millana Snow
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