My definition of truth is “something you keep stumbling into, again and again, in different forms.”
I, like most people, spent most of my life wanting a quick fix for my suffering.
My biggest epiphany (and greatest disillusionment) was when I realized that all the life lessons I’d learned, all of the epiphanies I’d had about my healing and happiness, would have to be relearned again and again.
Though I’ve seen the truth, I keep losing it and, then, having to find it again. I am, like everyone else, on a journey of my own, a journey where I encounter the same truths as everyone else in my own unique forms. Of course, I do (and will continue to) get lost.
All I can do is laugh it off and find my way back to the path once again. I hope this article may serve you as an external memory device.
Without further ado, here are the 6 life lessons that I already know, but keep forgetting (and then remembering again).
1. No one has any idea what they’re doing
I used to think that happy, healed, successful people knew something I didn’t, some magic secret that made them 100% certain of themselves. I thought doubt only came in times of trouble.
Now, I know that doubt is a healthy and necessary part of every human life. And that even the most successful person faces uncertainty in life.
We must be willing to question everything in order to get anything. We must be willing to call truth a lie before we can find it. And still, doubt comes and, then, I doubt myself for doubting. C’est la vie.
2. We’re all fighting the same battles
When I was little, I was horrified by my stretch marks, thinking I was the only person in the entire world who had them.
I felt like a freak.
Soon enough, I realized that they happen to most women, and even most people. While it’s natural to feel like our obstacles, challenges, and problems are different and horrible compared to those of others, it’s simply not true.
Everyone has fears, insecurities, regrets, and scars. Most of the time, silence and fear of vulnerability are bigger problems than lack of similar experience.
3. Before I can fix something, I have to accept it
Just like you cannot program a GPS without a starting location, you cannot change yourself without accepting where you are before that change.
Ironically enough, the number one thing that I’ve found stands in the way of a person loving themselves is their constant, unrelenting, self-induced pressure to hurry up and love themselves.
Even more ironic is when I realize that I’m trying to force myself to be better at helping people stop forcing themselves to be better. What can I do but laugh and try again?
4. I’m in control of very little
Especially as a people-helper, I always have to remind myself that I have no real control over other people, especially their will to change. I thought, for a while, that the only thing I could control was myself, but even that is questionable.
Can I really control myself? When I practice yoga, I cannot control how deeply I go into the poses. When I am faced with criticism, I cannot control the fact that fearful thoughts come. Even when I choose to change my behaviours or change my perceptions, I have no control over how quickly change happens within me.
I find that most of my negative emotions come directly from this – from my trying to control things that are not under my authority.
5. I must exercise the control I do have
While I cannot change people, I can certainly work on myself, do my best, and present myself authentically to other people, thereby setting a good example. While I cannot control how quickly I become more flexible or more resilient to criticism, I can choose to exercise my mind and body each day.
I can control my choices. I can choose to perceive things differently, to be aware of my own behaviours and thoughts, and to take responsibility for nourishing myself, one day at a time, one choice at a time.
If I focus all my energy on doing this, I forget about trying to control that which I cannot.
6. Questions are more important than answers
I try very hard to embrace the impermanent nature of things, but at best, I’m attached to my rituals of detachment. I ask myself what I need, right here right now, always willing to receive different answers. And still, I become comfortable with the answers of today.
Sometimes, I stop asking the questions because I think I’ve found the answers. Then, when those answers aren’t right anymore, I feel a deep sense of loss, knowing I need to plunge into the unknown and ask again. I remember, again and again, that the greatest wisdom in this world is to be able to ask the same questions for a lifetime, always willing to receive different answers.
That is the way to truth.