Who hurt you? Who did you hurt? What decision do you regret? What mistake are you stewing over?
We all carry fear, shame, and guilt related to what we’ve done or what has happened to us. When we stew over why things happened and hold onto those feelings, they hold us back. If we let go of “why” and consider “what now,” we can see that often the greatest hardships of our life can be our greatest opportunities to learn and grow.
Without the abuse and trauma I experienced, I wouldn’t have the strength, compassion, and resilience I do today. I wouldn’t have had to figure out how to listen to, forgive, and love myself so I could do that for others. I wouldn’t know how to help others heal, or how to build them up so they have the courage to do things they never thought they could.
For too long I wished those hardships away and in doing so I kept myself from being my best self and doing my best work. Before learning to forgive, love, and lead myself I had no capacity to love, serve, and lead others. I had a hard time navigating change and bouncing back from challenges. I was defensive when someone voiced an opinion different than mine. I used power and control to influence others. I second-guessed myself often and always thought people were judging me. Slowly, I am learning to live and lead through a place of love instead of fear.
When we don’t take time for self-reflection and learn to forgive, understand, love, and lead ourselves, we create toxic environments and unintentionally damage relationships. We hold ourselves and those around us back from reaching our potential. Leading starts with you doing your own work. Do you hear me? If you are leading a family, an organization, or any other group and you can’t look in the mirror and honestly say that you love yourself and are effectively leading yourself, you have work to do. (Spoiler alert…all of us, until the end of time, need to be working on ourselves because we are imperfect and human!!!)
No matter what our life experience, we need to make time to think about how we think. Your experience has created perceptions, biases, and assumptions of the world that may or may not be true. And everyone experiences pain and hardship at some level. When we hold onto (or bury) our perceptions, assumptions, and heartache without examining them or freeing ourselves of them, it impacts how we show up in the world.
We go to elaborate measures to avoid the quiet where our thoughts and emotions lurk, but that’s where your power lies. You may be able to bury or hide your feelings for a period of time, but they will rear their ugly head when you are under stress. Those close to you see it even when you think you’re hiding it.
When we try to avoid pain and heartache, we make ourselves weak and unable to recover from the natural course of life. If we face the hard and messy realities, we build strength and resilience to persevere. That is our ultimate responsibility and where real success and happiness reside.
When something goes wrong, you can’t go back and undo it. Ultimately, you can only move forward—and try to make it right by learning from it. The same principle applies when you fall short of your own standards, and you let yourself down.
Do you have the courage to slow down, to look in, to learn, and to move forward into a better you, a better life, and better use of your gifts? Let’s talk!