Martha Beck recently outlined 10 life lessons we'd all be better off unlearning. Based on my work with my coaching clients, I have found that 5 of them have an especially profound impact on people.
1. It's important to stay happy
Martha jokes around about how stressful it is to be happy all the time. The funny thing is that honoring ALL of our feelings is what leads to happiness. There are entire books written about how painful this myth is. One of my favorites is The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris. Brene Brown also discusses the risk of always going for happy in her book Daring Greatly. When people try to numb the "bad" feelings (like anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy) they numb all feelings. We can't just numb some feelings and not others. Brown says it best, "Numb the dark and you numb the light." So what do you do? Honor all of your feelings, be mindful about your numbing behaviors and learn how to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions. Learning how to experience all of your feelings will actually increase your capacity for joy and happiness.
2. I'm irreparably damaged by my past
First and foremost, you are not alone. Everyone has scars from their past. Some bigger, some smaller, but they are there. This lesson is all about worthiness. The truth is, no matter what happened to us growing up, we are all worthy. We were born worthy and we are still worthy. Again, Brown says it best, "If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging." Do the work you need (with a mental health professional, if necessary) to build your worthiness and then get clear about what you want for your life. Once you have some clarity, you can make choices that support that vision and take any action you possibly can today to work you toward that vision and leave the damage of your past behind.
3. Success is the opposite of failure
The truth is that success is the result of failure. I am constantly talking with my clients about being a scientist in their life. Come up with theories and create experiments to try them out and see what happens. They can be just small steps to see if you are heading in the right direction: starting a blog, going on a date, asking for an informational interview with someone who has your dream job. The key is to experiment a lot so you can fail fast and fail often. Just make sure you learn along the way. That is what will lead to success.
4. It matters what people think of me
It totally does. I mean, if it matters to you, it matters to you. It's OK to feel that way and it's important to be aware of that. Just make sure you know what YOU think of you and make sure THAT matters MORE than what other people think of you. This is all about belonging. Brown describes belonging as "the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us." So people end up putting a lot of stock into what other think about them so they can change themselves in order to belong. The problem? You can't achieve true belonging by being somebody else, by trying to model yourself into something others will love they don't actually love you, they love who you are pretending to be. Be yourself and find the people who love you for who you are, not who they want you to be.
5. If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect
Pick up a tabloid and see if that's true. A lot of people have had your wishes come true for them, but their lives still aren't perfect. Don't live for the dream. Live for the moment. Go ahead and have the dream and work on figuring out how to get there, but find joy in the journey. You can do both by looking for what is already perfect in your life. How did you make that happen? How can you make it happen in other areas of your life? If you only look forward and forget to look back and forget to notice what's happening all around you, you'll miss out on the joy AND the clues that will take you to the next stop on your journey.
There are all sorts of "lessons" we have learned in life. Take time to stop every once in a while to ask yourself if the lessons you hold yourself to are still serving you.
Elise Touchette is the founder of Shine A Light Coaching She is a Certified Martha Beck Inc Life Coach and Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner. She is passionate about helping people develop and grow as individuals so they can unite with others to create success. She works with leaders to help them attract the partners, talent and clients that will help them fulfill their purpose in the world. You can learn more about Elise and her coaching services at her website and can get some insight into her philosophy and coaching style by following her on Facebook.