10 Universal Truths That Will Set You Free
From a very young age everyone conspires to hide the truth about life and themselves from us. Adults pretend that they are perfect, and never make mistakes; we’re all convinced that everyone around us has their lives sorted out, and is more capable than we are; and that we should strive to never fail or make mistakes, because these things make us bad. Lies! All lies!
There are a number of universal truths that everybody should know, they should be taught to kids in school. Just think about it, if you knew the following things as a teenager, what difference would it have made to your life? What difference does it make reading them now if they are things you hadn’t realized yet?
1. Adults do not know everything, they spend most of their lives trying to work it out – go on, ask anyone around you whether they had their life sorted out at 18, 21, 30 or even if they have it sorted out now? You are not alone, the kid who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up was the exception to the rule!
2. You are not meant to be perfect, nobody is meant to be perfect, and nobody is – seriously, we are taught to strive for perfection from such a young age because our school system is based on grading us, and praising the people who do well. Striving to do well is not a bad thing; the need for perfection, to not fail at all costs, is a destructive part of our lives though. Pretending we are perfect stops us from connecting with other people – the ability to admit your failings is vital to developing strong relationships.
3. If you don’t decide the direction of your life, someone else will – if you don’t pick a goal, or pick a path for your life, chances are you will be quite passive in making important decisions. This makes it easier for other people to influence your direction, possibly without either of you realising it. Set your own destinations, even if you aren’t entirely certain – just be willing to give yourself permission to change direction when you do finally work out what you want.
4. Just because you are afraid, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – on the contrary, fear is usually an indication that something is important to you, so you should do it. If you make your decisions based on avoiding fear, you will live a boring and frustrating life.
5. You are not the worst thing you have done in your life: stop judging yourself – we all make mistakes and we all do things that we wish we hadn’t done, things we are ashamed of. But you are so much more than the worst decision you’ve ever made, you are also all of the wonderful things you have achieved, all of the nice, positive experiences as well – stop beating yourself up.
6. You are more courageous than you think you are – the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is only partly accurate. It should be “what doesn’t kill you helps you realize how strong and courageous you already are.” I’m yet to meet anyone who was aware of how courageous they could be, until they were put to the test – so remember your capacity for courage is higher than you realize.
7. You are going to fail (a lot) in your life, find the lesson and move on – this one works with number 2, don’t beat yourself up for failing; failure is how we learn and grow. Remember nobody is perfect, we all fail; the important thing is to identify the lesson, otherwise you will continue to learn it through the same failure.
8. Self-compassion and self-kindness are skills that you need to acquire – you can’t be truly compassionate to others if you are incapable of self-compassion. We all have nasty internal critics who spend their time telling us how bad, broken or wrong we are. These skills will help balance the critics so you can be kinder to yourself, and as a consequence, other people.
9. If you choose to live a life that is not aligned to your values, you will never be fulfilled – doing anything that directly conflicts with your values will frustrate you – jobs, relationships, friendships, etc. But it also turns out that if you aren’t doing something that is truly aligned to your values, you will never reach fulfillment; remember, that ‘something’ does not have to be your career.
10. We are all broken in some way, and I doubt you are as broken as you believe – we are all broken toys in some way. You think that your doubts, fears, weird thoughts, and quirky habits are unique to you; you think that they make you broken or wrong. I’m not saying that you should tell everyone, but I’m sure that there are many other people that share them; just search the internet if you need to be reassured.
I used to believe that the opposite of all these things was true. Some of them I realized earlier in my life, but the majority of them I didn’t understand until I took on a year-long challenge to make significant changes in my life, called My Year of TED. Now I know the truth, and in many ways it has set me free from a lot of inner demons and nasty internal thoughts about myself.
What other universal truths would you love to share with the world? What have you discovered on your own journey that other people need to know?