No one is born with an owner's manual to his or her life. We all just sort of make it all up as we go along, pretending like we know what we are doing and that we are actually completely in control. Just ask someone who has been in a car crash where the offending driver was negligent about how much control we really have...
It may surprise you to know that there are some fundamentals to being human, that if you understand them, will make your path in life a wee bit easier or, at the very least, help you understand your path better.
1. Humans are not wired for a constant emotional expenditure. We are not wired to be constantly stressed out, sad, lonely, fearful, or angry. These kinds of emotions (yes the origin of stress is usually fear, anxiety, or sadness) cause the adrenal system to go in to overdrive. Once your adrenal glands are exhausted, you encounter a whole series of physical and cognitive symptoms. If your mind, heart, and body never get relief from emotional expenditure, you will suffer for it. The best way to get that 'emotional rest'? Go outside, yes outside. I don't mean with your ipod, phone, tablet or computer but just be outside at least 30 minutes a day. Doing this simple thing will lower stress hormones in your body and help you reboot each day.
2. Exposure to trauma of any kind changes us forever. It changes our outlook on the world, how we operate day-to-day, how we love, work, plan for the future, and care for others. So many people are walking around, having been exposed to some kind of trauma, never realizing that it has deeply affected them and the affects are playing out in their daily lives without them consciously realizing it.
3. Everything you have ever experienced, every emotion, thought, and action are with you in this moment. You can't bring it all up to a conscious level (unless you have a photographic memory) but your past creates who you are right now. Now for the kicker...if you were to sit in a room of strangers and recite your past to them, all it would be to them is a litany of facts, nothing more. That is all any of our past is - just facts. What we do as humans is assign emotion to those past experiences. When we assign negative emotions we may find ourselves feeling shame or anxiety, experiencing stress or worry - all over something that may have been over with for years. You can stop that cycle by trying to clearly understand what the emotions are that you assigned to that past event and why. In doing this you might be able to stop that cycle of shame, stress, worry, or anxiety and replace those emotions. It isn't something that will happen over night but it can happen.
4. Attitude, lifestyle, and profession are choices we make. So often we want to 'blame' someone or some event with how our lives are going. Fundamentally, we make a lot of choices each day that provide the construct of our lives. If you don't like how things are going, make different choices. If you keep choosing the same answer to the questions you pose to yourself, the same things will keep happening.
5. The average person tells 4 lies a day, for a total of about 90,000 by the time s/he is 80. What is the most common lie we all tell? I'm fine. There are a million reasons we all tell that lie - that we are fine when we are not. But think about this, if this is a lie, and you are the only one that knows it is a lie, when you tell it, who are you trying to convince? You are trying to convince yourself...so you can keep pretending you are fine when you are not. In my 16 years of teaching self-care, I've discovered many folks are walking around burned out, on the edge, holding it together - just barely. Having no friends to confide in, they get up every day and pretend - rather than deal. A step in the right direction is to stop telling that lie. If you are not fine, don't say you are. Come up with a real, truthful answer that won't scare anyone. Be honest with yourself. I've discovered more people than not don't have a close friend they can depend on and want one. Reach out, extend kindness, seek out a like soul to share with, lean on and be the wall someone else can lean on.
Well, there you go, there are many other fundamentals but I'll stop at these five for now. Think about these things, how they apply to your life. Be honest with yourself. That is the first step in loving yourself, finding contentment and joy, and being able to extend kindness to others so you can deeply connect with them.