Make Life Great Again. 50 Lessons From My Worst Year Ever.

Make Life Great Again. 50 Lessons From My Worst Year Ever.
Photo: Lisa Degliantoni

To “Make America Great Again”, it must start from within. To help make life great again, here are 50 lessons learned from my worst year ever.

  1. The bad news is, you will never run out of things to cry about.
  2. The good news is, not everything you cry about will be sad.
  3. Bits of shattered dreams can be reimagined and reconfigured into unexpected masterpieces.
  4. During times of significant stress, hair falls out in chunks  It’s just hair. It grows back.
  5. Don’t assume others know what you’re feeling. We’re all storytellers, and we’re all on different pages. People aren’t mind readers.
  6. While in the darkest tunnel of a crisis, the road ahead seems long and narrow. Time seems to stand still. Once you’re past the crisis, however, it shrinks in the rear view mirror.
  7. Medicine is called a “practice” for good reason. Doctors cannot possibly know everything. They are not always right, nor are they always gracious about their lack of complete knowledge.
  8. Depression and anxiety are sometimes manifestations of untreated medical conditions.
  9. robust appetite ought never be taken for granted.
  10. The right song at the right time can literally save a life.
  11. Helping someone else is the quickest, surest way out of a gnarly forest of funk.
  12. Sharing your vulnerability is brave; concealing it eats you alive.
  13. When others stoop, they expect us to crouch down to get a closer look. Don’t fall for it. Keep standing.
  14. The best way to ride through a wave of emotion [sadness, anxiety, loneliness, fear, anger, depression, or feeling overwhelmed] is to be curious about it. Seriously. Welcome it. Ask it a few questions. Don’t fight the emotions or tell yourself you “shouldn’t” feel so [sad, anxious, lonely, fearful, angry, depressed, or overwhelmed]. You feel the way you feel. And as silly as it sounds, asking those emotions why they’re here will help to usher them out. Telling them they have to go is ineffective — and only gives them more power.
  15. Meditation is not a hippie-dippy practice for granola-crunching weirdos. Scientific evidence proves meditation improves brain function and mood. Meditating, even 5 minutes daily, changes your life.
  16. Not every person you love is capable of loving you the way you want or need them to.
  17. Hydration is essential for every aspect of your life, including mood.
  18. Changing yourself takes time. When you commit to a change in your own paradigm, prepare for the ripple effect caused when others respond to the “new” you. Realize they may then commit to changing themselves, which will require you to readjust further.
  19. The most effective communication tool is validation. You don’t have to agree with others’ beliefs or feelings, but acknowledging and validating their beliefs and feelings keeps the dialogue open.
  20. “Should” is one of the most judgmental, negative words you can use, especially when you’re talking to yourself. “I should do better,” “I should be happier,” Come on. Cut yourself some slack and live in the present. Use “am” and “are” when describing your feelings, even when they’re negative. “I am unhappy about this, and I am able to improve it by…,” or “My feelings are hurt right now, and I am able to see that things are in disarray.” Own what’s happening now. You’ll feel stronger and less like a victim.
  21. Sleep improves everything.
  22. In the wake of narcissism, victims feel broken, angry, lost, unworthy, resentful, insecure, controlled, manipulated, confused, abused, and fearful.
  23. When good things happen to bad people, good people sometimes make the unfortunate decision to do bad things.
  24. Strength takes many shapes and forms — including silence and inaction.
  25. Life is the ultimate marathon. Pace yourself. Struggle and pain will not last forever, even though it sometimes feels as though they will.
  26. Look someone in the eye and say thank you. At times, this is enough.
  27. Trying and failing both take tremendous courage.
  28. Letting go can be a sign of leadership.
  29. Giving up is not an option.
  30. Think it’s as bad as it can possibly get? Chances are you probably don’t know the half of it. Remain present and grateful for where you are right now. Things could be worse.
  31. PTSD doesn’t just happen to military personnel.
  32. There’s always another corner to turn…especially in the darkness.
  33. Remind yourself on a regular basis not to overthink.
  34. Love yourself. Everything else will then fall into place.
  35. Comparing yourself to anyone is ridiculous. You’re exactly who you’re meant to be.
  36. Black-and-white thinking (also known as all-or-nothing thinking) leaves little room for negotiation, and that’s a deal breaker when you’re trying to find peace with others — or yourself. Remember: “Leave room for gray to save the day”.
  37. It’s not selfish to attend to your own needs.
  38. Showing up is more important than solving.
  39. You’re harder on yourself than anyone else. Make room for self-compassion.
  40. Listen to your gut, especially when others insist you’re wrong.
  41. During times of intense pain and overwhelm, stop yourself and accept what’s happening. Like that feeling just before a glass hits the floor — there’s no turning back and you must embrace what’s happening. This is called radical acceptance. When we radically accept a difficult situation, things feel different, rather than hopeless.
  42. The stages of grief and loss are profound. They occur and impact us all differently, but the basics include:
    •Denial, which keeps us in a self-protective daze.
    •Anger, which is often accompanied by blame.
    •Bargaining, which is when we try to minimize feelings of loss.
    •Depression, which allows us to fully experience our pain.
    •Acceptance, which is empowerment…a place where meaning is found in the loss we’ve experienced.
  43. Others enjoy helping. If you need help, ask for it. At the very least, accept it.
  44. Listening to a sad song when you’re blue sometimes lifts your spirits better than a happy song. Hearing sad notes or forlorn lyrics can validate your feelings of sadness… and help you feel less alone and misunderstood.
  45. There are victims and there are survivors. Decide which one you are (pick the latter) … then act like it.
  46. Tolerating distress is something we need to embrace more. If something feels bad, take a moment and ask yourself why that is…and how the feeling came to be…rather than jumping to change it without first understanding its cause.
  47. Eliminate the word “but” from your life. Seriously. Ban that sucker from your vocabulary. You’ll feel more positive, I promise. Instead of “2016 was a terrible year, but I feel better now that it’s over,” try “2016 was a terrible year, and I feel better now that it’s over.” Instead of, “I gave it my all, but I learned a lot along the way,” try “I gave it my all and I learned a lot along the way.”  Using “but” invalidates the first part of your statement. Knock it off.
  48. A bad word box helps. Keep bad words at bay. Just put ’em in a bad words box. Examples include negative and all-or-nothing words like impossible, all, must, ought, nothing, can’t, why, fail, always, never, ever and completely. These words tend to stall — and even kill — progress. Try good words and phrases, like perhaps, maybe, if, how aboutI’ll consider that and what do you think?
  49. You know what you know. You don’t know what you don’t know. Just make sure you know the difference.
  50. The people who hurt you the most are probably the ones hurting the most.

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    Christine Wolf

    I tend to cover life's ups and downs. I don't shy away from the tougher, more emotional stories. While I'm always willing to voice an opinion, it sometimes contradicts my innate desire to please everyone at all times. Such is this crazy life, I suppose. Ultimately, I search for meaning in the human experience, and openly share how I (try to) keep my head above water. Thanks so much for dropping by. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

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