What I’ve Learned, 2015 Edition

I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.

  • Resistance is not a reason not to do things.  It may be an invitation to explore further.  It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
  • Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society.  Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani).  When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
  • My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
  • I am sad a lot.  I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness.  I’m trying to sit with it more.  If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
  • I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle).  This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.

What I’ve Learned, 2013 Edition

Our brain on automatic is a pattern-making machine.  Our consciousness can help bring awareness to the patterns through which we live our life, and break the ones that don’t suit us.  Be very careful about which patterns you choose to keep around.

Computers are tools to be used for tasks.  They are not a lifestyle.

We have as much freedom as we decide we have.  Once we can get outside of our patterns enough to notice this, even for a moment, we are free.  Which is not to say that we don’t also need reminding sometimes.

Cutting our losses takes courage, continuing for the sake of it does not take as much courage.

There’s no substitute for getting our hands in the dirt.

A great warning sign that we might not be in the right place is when people measure success by things we don’t care about (like money, or attention, or popularity, or whatever).  Especially when the success being measured is ours.

If it can be erased by a magnet, it isn’t real.

Life is too short to follow the zeitgeist that much, unless it happens to coincide with what we’re interested in anyway.

Just because we’re on the right track doesn’t mean what we’re working toward is going to  (or should) look anything like it does now.

What I’ve Learned, 2011 Edition

  • I am not a perfect person.  I’ve done foolish things, self-destructive things, and I have many days where I’m ruled by ego or just want to spend the day in bed.
  • Curiosity is a driving force.  I’ve written about this before, but I really do believe that all the best lives come from curiosity.
  • Ego is an illusion. “ME” is an illusion.
  • Talking about it beats not talking about it. This one is about relationships.  Often there’s scary
  • Stepping into the scariness of connecting and being vulnerable is the same as living, and always worth it.
  • “Good” experiences provide Joy, “bad” experiences provide data.

What I’ve Learned, 2002 Edition

… sometimes people can still surprise you

… you need to let people make their own mistakes, even though you may desperately want to keep them from pain

… I don’t have to do everything at once, or be everything to everybody

… I have hidden talents

… people who seem to be what you want on paper, aren’t necessarily the people you should be with in life

… sometimes even the most carefully thought out analysis can’t take the place of a good hug

… one of the best feelings in the world is to think about someone and smile because they exist and are in your life

… I probably shouldn’t think so much

… You can go out without getting involved in “the scene,” and sometimes actually even have fun

… Not having someone to wake up with in the morning sucks, but it’s still better than settling.

What I’ve Learned 2001

i’ve learned that at some point everyone goes through a relationship where you end up wanting something that the other person isn’t ready for, and they all pretty much end the same way.

i’ve learned that age doesn’t have all that much to do with what someone wants or is ready for in a relationship

i’ve learned that when the shoe is on the other foot…

i’ve learned that we all have self-esteem problems, we just deal with them differently

i’ve learned that no matter who’s fault it is or the reasons behind it, it still hurts until it doesnt anymore.

i’ve learned to stop writing these cause i’m just depressing myself