18 Lessons I’ve Learned About Life.
Years ago, I vowed to make personal growth my priority, regardless of the price I paid.
Growth, for me, is not about getting ahead or proving myself to anyone else. It’s about learning the lessons I’m here to learn and becoming increasingly aware of my actions. I am a student of life, and will continue to be as long as I walk this earth. I am still discovering ways to better my being, heal my heart and cultivate awareness. Here are a few of my favorite and most valuable revelations:
1. Honor your creativity: We are born to be imaginative creatures, and yet, somewhere along the way, our creativity is dismissed as insignificant while we make formal education, financial security and structure our primary concern. Explore your creative side by learning how to express yourself passionately and artistically.
Learn something new about yourself, and discover your passion through art (painting, sculpting, music, dancing, knitting, photography or writing).
2. Learn to love yourself: I use the word “learn” because very few people are actually taught how to unconditionally love their essence. As children, many of us received the message that we are worthy of love only if we are good, obey the rules and make our parents and community proud. You are not here to make others proud of you, nor does true love need a reason to exist. You are worthy of love right now.
When you learn this, you will be at peace with yourself and you will no longer be affected by what others think of you.
3. Heal your wounds: We are all hurting on the inside, and yearn for relief from the pain. We do everything in our power to avoid the ache by either running from it or numbing out (medication, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, drama, etc.) to feel less miserable. Deep-seated trauma produces anger, hatred, bitterness, self-loathing and isolation, preventing us from feeling the love in our hearts.
Until we heal our wounds, we are unable to fully love ourselves and share love with others. Look at your issues smack dab in the eyes and deal with them straightforwardly so you can live a life of understanding, compassion and delight.
4. Be your own guru: No person on this earth knows what you need more than you do, so don’t allow others to have control over you and your choices. You don’t need a teacher, preacher or guru dictating your life. You only need to get still and quiet long enough to listen to the voice of honesty that resides within you. You possess the answers to your every question. Trust your intuition and be your own guide.
5. Give without expectation: If someone has ever handed you a favor with the intention of receiving something in return, you quickly learned the difference between a gift and psychological manipulation. If you choose to give, give freely and from the heart. If you are incapable of giving without expectation, it’s best not to give at all.
6. Respect your body: The human body is a beautiful phenomenon intelligently designed by nature. It accompanies us from the moment we arrive on earth until the day we leave this planet. Your body is yours and yours alone. Get to know it in its entirety. Stay strong and healthy with nourishing whole foods and daily movement.
Practice safe, meaningful sex with someone who listens to your needs, honors your body and treats you with respect inside and outside of the bedroom. Become comfortable in your own skin, wear what you want to wear, and pay no mind to the way others perceive you. Deliberately love every curve, nook and cranny of your gorgeous body.
7. Be with people you trust: Relationships are a huge part of our lives, and have the power to affect us positively or negatively on many levels. Surround yourself with people who genuinely have your back 100% of the time. Spend time with people who nourish your spirit, protect your heart, and meet you where you are. Cut out any person from your life who brings you down or depletes your energy.
Life is too short to hang out with mean-spirited individuals. The people in your life should lift you up, inspire you to be your best, and celebrate your eccentricities. Love heals, so create your soul tribe with kindred souls and love them fiercely.
8. Listen to children: If you want to make the world a better place, treasure the children on this earth. It is our responsibility as adults to love all the children. While guiding them through youth, give them plenty of space to explore the world instead of brainwashing them with dogmatic beliefs. They need to be loved, not controlled.
Build their confidence, protect their innocence, and honor their intuition by giving them a voice of their own. Allow each child to express his or her feelings through words, and respect what they have to say. They are wise beyond their years.
9. Learn to let go: Have the courage to walk away from any person or situation that does not serve your highest good. There is always something better waiting for you around the corner.
10. Be honest: Honesty is always the best policy. I’ve heard many people argue with this statement and give reasons for hiding the truth or telling lies to excuse their behavior. Deceit and dishonesty are signs of weakness. Become so boldly honest with yourself that you have no qualms about telling the truth to those around you.
11. Know your worth: If you want someone to know your worth, you must first learn it yourself. Teach people how to treat you by treating yourself with the respect you deserve and accepting nothing less from others.
12. Set boundaries: If you give without first taking care of yourself, you will become depleted. Nobody wins that game. Put your needs first and learn how to say no. When you nourish yourself, you become so full of love that it will spill over onto everyone around you without any effort.
13. Solitude is your friend: A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me my secret to health. I answered, “Solitude.” Solitude has given me access to more wisdom than any teacher, preacher, book or class I’ve ever encountered. The majority of my healing has transpired during time alone.
I often spend days at a time retreating in solitude and silence as an opportunity to listen to my needs and understand how I feel without being tainted by external influence. Spend time alone and discover your magic.
14. Give yourself permission to feel: You are not a robot. You are a human being made of real emotion. You don’t need to hold it together and pretend everything is fine all the time. You don’t need to put on a mask to hide your feelings for the sake of others’ comfort. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to cry. Honoring your emotions is a sign of strength and bravery.
Rejecting your feelings will not make them go away, but will only escalate the turmoil and confusion. Emotions show up in our lives for a reason, so listen to their message. Sadness, anger and depression often serve as reminders that we need to reevaluate or change a situation in our lives. Take time to respect and understand your feelings, then you can make choices from a place of clarity and empathy.
15. Follow your own way: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in this life is to march to the beat of my own drum. I started questioning my environment and the choices being made by those around me at a very early age. Conforming to traditional beliefs and behavior always felt wrong and dishonest.
It took me a long time to truly shed the expectations held for me by society, but it was by far the most rewarding and best decision I’ve ever made. Question everything you’ve been taught. Stop trying to fit in, abandon popularity, and pave your own path. You need nobody’s approval but your own.
16. Trust the timing of your life: Every person is on a path unique to his or her needs, abilities, strengths and passion. Just because you are not moving at the same pace someone else is moving doesn’t mean you are behind. There are no winners or losers in this thing called life, so move to your own rhythm.
17. Sleep: Get sufficient amounts of sleep. It makes everything better.
18: Stand up for the innocent: Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed unfathomable abuse, hatred and oppression. Cruelty and manipulation of any kind is unacceptable, and can induce damage that lasts a lifetime. Have the courage to stand up to bullies, even when standing up to bullies does not score points with onlookers.
Those who promote abuse and control will do their best to silence and punish you for calling them out on their bullshit. But protecting those who are too scared or incapable of protecting themselves is always the right thing to do.
Zella Sage is a Healing Guide, Creative Writer and Holistic Private Chef. As a leader of well-being retreats and workshops, she has been teaching Yoga for 16 years while encouraging others to restore connection to self and exist in their truth. She is passionate about healing the heart + soul + body through mindful movement, plant medicine and personal evolution. Her own healing journey has included massive amounts of solitude, silence, Yoga, dance, travel, deep breath-work, writing and unconditional self-love. Feel free to contact Zella through her website Zella Sage or Instagram.