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Episode 39: Obstacles, Excuses, and Compassion: Three Lessons from the Hardest Year of My Life

This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.

Note: This post contains brief strong language.

Hello, and welcome! I’m glad you’re here. Today I’m going to focus on moving through and making the best of a difficult season. I don’t think I’ve made it unclear that I’ve had some of the hardest years of my life recently, and it has required hard work to make sure that my emotional health was put first. I know that at some point we all go through what we call “The Hardest Year”. We’ve all been there, and it’s really that one year where everything seems to go wrong. But those hard times can teach us some of the greatest lessons, the most important lessons that we’ll ever learn. Today I want to share with you three truths that I learned during my hardest year, And trust me, you don’t want to have to go through these struggles to learn these same things, so let’s dive in.

Lesson #1: Your life is always trying to teach you something. Have you ever noticed how life seems to repeat the same challenges until we finally get the message? The endless cycle of reacting in the same way over and over thinking something is going to be different? That’s because life is constantly trying to help us grow. It's during those moments of friction and discomfort that we can learn the most important of those lessons. So what are they? And what can we do to learn them more quickly? The first step: pay attention. When something feels off or uncomfortable, don’t just push it to the side and ignore it. Instead, take a minute to reflect on what you’re feeling and why. You need to be open to transformation. Sometimes we can be so stuck in our own mental framework that we’re not willing to see things from a different perspective. When we open ourselves up to novel ideas and varied ways of thinking, we allow ourselves to learn and grow in ways we had not previously imagined. Progress is a lifelong process. Just because you’ve learned one lesson doesn’t mean you’re finished. There will always be more of life to explore, more challenges to face, and of course, more growth to experience.

Lesson #2: Your excuses are bullshit. Behind every excuse is fear, and the only way to address that fear is to take action. So, how do we stop accepting our own excuses and start doing what we know we need to do? Well, first examine the excuse. You can use a journal for this if it’s helpful for you. What are the reasons you are giving yourself for not doing something? Are they legitimate reasons? We have to face our fears eventually. What is it specifically that you’re afraid of? Is it failure, rejection, or maybe even success? Once we identify our fears, we can start addressing and processing them. It’s not just enough to acknowledge our excuses and fears. We need to take actual concrete steps, intentional moves, towards our goals, even if it’s just a small one every day.

Lesson #3: Change is not easy. I used to be a person who absolutely detested any type of deviation from the norm. It made me feel uncomfortable, like I had no control. Because I couldn't predict what was going to happen next, I was unsettled. I assumed any shift would be negative. Change is challenging. That’s why so many of us struggle with it. But, the effort is always worth it, and you are capable of progress. However, you have to want it enough to actually do the work. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Joset, isn’t it nice that you got through all of that! You’re a much stronger person”, but it's not just me. Every single one of us has the power to make a positive impact in our world, and it doesn’t matter how small it is. That’s because every single action that we take, every word we speak, every thought we have has a ripple effect that extends far beyond us. Think about it. When you choose to live a life of purpose and meaning, when you choose to prioritize your mental health and physical well-being, when you choose to treat others with kindness and respect, you inspire others to do the same. And when enough people start making those choices, that’s when real change happens. But growth requires us to actively step out of our comfort zones and confront our fears and insecurities, and that’s why so many of us resist it. We’d rather stay comfortable and safe from the fear of rejection. Here’s the good news: you are capable of change. You have the ability to overcome your apprehensions and doubts, to create a life that’s filled with intention and fulfillment. The key to doing that is to push yourself, repeating it over and over again and practicing self-compassion.

So, if you take anything away from this episode, let it be this. There is always more to learn from life, and if you don’t accept the lessons, life is just going to get louder and louder until it’s hitting you like a sledgehammer. Your excuses are bullshit. Behind every excuse is fear. Change is not easy, but it’s worth it and you are capable of it. Stop biding your time. Don’t waste your life waiting, worrying, and wishing for things to change. You gotta want it enough to do the work. So how do we make lasting change? Well, identify what you want to change, what it is that you’re not happy with. Ask yourself, is it your job, your relationship, your health? Once we identify what we want to change, we can start to make a plan. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and it takes effort, but if we stay committed to it and keep taking actions, we’re going to see the results. And listen, you need to celebrate your success along the way! When you reach a milestone or achieve a goal, when you get yourself out of a rut and move towards bigger things, it's important to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate your hard work and progress. You know, the hardest years in our lives are by definition incredibly challenging, but I think it can also be the greatest time of discovery, especially about who we are and what we want. By paying attention to the lessons life is trying to teach you, dropping your excuses, and facing your fears, you embrace the hard work, the change, and you can come out stronger and more resilient on the other side. Stop waiting. Start taking action, and embrace the fact that you can do this, and it’s worth it.


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