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Episode 87 What’s important this Christmas
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20 Things 2020 has taught me

2020 has taught me

On the cusp of the New Year and the possibility of a psychological fresh start, I’m asking – what do I know now that I didn’t know 12 months ago? In a year of many dark clouds, what have been some silver linings? Here are 20 things 2020 has taught me, many the hard way.

  1. Back in January, with the year stretching ahead of us, I thought that here’s another opportunity to progress towards my goals and dreams, to work towards getting what I wanted. It turned out that 2020 was really about appreciating everything I already had.
  2. I turned the big 5-0 in June. It wasn’t a happy birthday, not because of the absence of a big celebration, but because my Dad was ill in hospital and Covid restrictions meant I was unable to visit him. That birthday weekend showed me that the best gifts don’t come wrapped in a bow.
  3. 2020 reminded me that when all is said and done, family and loved ones are the foundation of my life.
  4. Spiritual teachers say that if you argue with reality you will suffer. Well, I certainly did my arguing with reality in 2020 and I did suffer. Pushing against the unfairness of travel restrictions, seeing my diary leak business and of course my Dad’s cancer journey. I’m learning the subtle difference between resignation and surrender, the shades that distinguish the pain of resisting reality and the pain of self-betrayal from growing pains.
  5. I knew that my health is my wealth, but in 2020 my definition of health expanded to include mental health.
  6. Even when life is unbearably hard, I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Whilst I can support, listen to and love others on their life journey, I don’t have to walk it for them.
  7. Having moments (or days) of anxiety, sadness, grief or despondency is not a sign of weakness, it’s evidence of my humanity. When I feel broken, it’s my ego breaking down, opening me up to allow more compassion and love in.
  8. It’s only when I reach rock bottom do I know who and what supports me. When my soul is weary, if I surrender to what is, that’s when the breakthrough occurs.
  9. 2020 confirmed for me that busyness is my tool of choice for distracting myself from uncomfortable emotions.
  10. It’s said that life is a marathon and we just have to keep going. 2020 taught me that perhaps life is more like a relay. There are times when I have the baton and can sprint ahead. There are also times when I have to pass the baton because I’m exhausted. In 2020 I reached out for help, anathema for those of us who think we can do everything. In the past I would have seen it as weakness, now I view it as wise.
  11. Even if my intentions are the noble, it’s not my job to fix situations or control circumstances. I cannot choreograph every aspect of my life. In 2020 I’ve seen sufficient evidence to know that when I get out of my own way, give others the benefit of the doubt and trust in the process of life, that things have a tendency to work out.
  12. When I don’t show compassion to myself, it’s hard for me to show it to others. If I view other people’s suffering as contagious, when I’m suffering I’ll retreat, cutting myself off from the very support I crave.
  13. What I label good or bad is subjective. From a different perspective, or with the gift of hindsight, I might label it differently. There are times when it feels like life is happening to me, but with a higher perspective, I’ll realise it is actually happening for me.
  14. My most important relationship is with myself and my inner being.
  15. I cannot have a truly fulfilled life without an evolving spiritual dimension and practice. Meditation, yoga, reading and prayer have been my handrails in 2020.
  16. I cannot change other people, I can only change how I relate to them not changing. I don’t allow the stuff that loved ones are not working on to hold me back. I balance this by leaning into kindness because we are all doing our best.
  17. I know in even more detail what uplifts me and what depletes me.
  18. Necessity is the mother of invention. I’ve taken more risks and tried new things in 2020. I had to pivot my business and those changes have opened up new possibilities.
  19. I so value and appreciate my home and I’m privileged to be able to work from home.
  20. I’m more resilient and courageous than I thought.

2020 has taught me. Survival

2020 was not about thriving, it was about surviving. Life will test us, but it is up to us whether we let it grind us down or polish us. 2020 brought me to my knees, but I survived and maybe I’m a little wiser and more compassionate as a result.

For me, it’s all about progress in a direction. And progress is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than I used to be. So, continued progress, that’s my personal wish for 2021.

I hope you enjoyed this post and do let me know in the comments if you experienced some of these learnings also in 2020.  Self-care became a critical component for me as I navigated the stresses of this year.  If you would like some valuable self-care tips to use in 2021 then check out my post Self-Care 2.0 – the 2020 upgrade.

Best wishes

James