As a part of my journey since becoming a life coach, I have spent a lot of my time immersed in books, podcasts, various personal development resources and working with my own coach, trying to develop a deeper understanding as to what makes people suffer and how to help them fall back in love with their lives and themselves.
I started to realize how valuable all of this information would have been if I had learned it in school. I thought back to my days as a young adolescent who spent most of my time in a state of insecurity, worried about what other people thought about me, and being too quick to judge others as well. I thought, how amazing would it be if there was a class to teach young women how to properly love themselves? How to accept themselves and how to develop more confidence and self worth? A class that focused on teaching young women how to discover and embrace their true authentic selves, quiet their inner critic and overcome past shame, guilt, resentment and regret so they could move forward as the confident and powerful force they were meant to be?
So I decided to create something for the young women still in school who could benefit from the learnings that have been key to my own personal growth and healing journey. And I had the extreme pleasure of seeing it come to life for the first time a couple of months ago.
The women that came were extraordinary. They were far wiser than I was at their age. They were mature, compassionate and had experienced more suffering than that which anyone should experience in a lifetime, much less by the age of 16 years old. I was taken aback by their willingness to grow, improve themselves, be vulnerable and open up about personal and painful details of their lives so they could learn how to release, let go and move forward.
As mentioned, my goal was to teach them how to embrace their authenticity, decrease their social anxiety and overcome any past shame/guilt/resentment that prevented them from feeling worthy or deserving of a brighter future. What I hadn't expected however, was that they would be teaching me a few profound lessons that demonstrated their maturity, their selflessness, their compassion and how to turn their own suffering into opportunities that made them stronger.
So I thought I would share them with you:
1.) If you see someone in pain or suffering, don't ignore it - express compassion. One of the young women in the program shared with me that when she sees someone struggling, someone in pain, or someone being bullied - she's the first person to approach them and ask them if they want to talk or if they need any help. Not many people think this way. Oftentimes, we make up excuses to avoid helping people that suffer around us. We might tell ourselves, "They don't look like they want to talk" or "They're strong, they can figure it out on their own", or "They probably just want some space" or any other excuse we give to avoid helping people that may need it. Her logic was this: "Whenever I see someone in pain or suffering, I assume they don't have support or someone to go to - and even if they do, what bad can come from showing someone you care? You never know what little support that person might be receiving in their life (even from their own family), and if I can help even one person realize that someone cares about them and is thinking about them, then it's worth just asking the question". Can you imagine how different the world would be if we were less self-serving, and more focused on how we could be of service to others around us?
2.) If you believe in someone's potential - be their cheerleader and encourage them to live up to it. The particular young woman that taught me this lesson didn't even have to voice it - she simply lived this lesson through example. She would hitch a ride with someone from out of town two hours prior to the beginning of our group session because that's the only time her ride was available and she loved our topics of discussion that much. She was an advocate for my work and my message, so much so, she would approach other young women in the school and tell them about the program, encouraging them to go when she thought they could benefit from a particular topic. On the nights before a session, she would reach out to others, encouraging them to go because she felt "it would help remind them of their potential". She knew of others that suffered from past experiences or painful situations, and she wanted them to know they weren't alone.
One of the number one reasons people don't make positive change in their life is because they don't think they are capable or worth it. Imagine how drastically you could change one person's life if you simply reminded them of their potential on the days when they themselves, forget it? Imagine what you could inspire them to do, to change, or to become?
3.) If someone does something to wrong you, treat them with empathy and forgiveness, not anger or hatred - it's likely that they are suffering far more than you. Another incredible young woman shared with me a time when an old friend of hers once stole some of her belongings. She told me, "Sure I could have gotten mad, started a fight or got her in trouble, but I knew that for someone to be in a place where they could want to hurt other people or steal from them, it was obvious that she was suffering - I saw that not as an act of hatred, but as a cry for help". To be so young and have such a mature understanding of other people's suffering, and having the strength to express empathy over anger was humbling to me, and one of the most inspiring conversations I had during my time with these incredible women.
I say it at all of my events and to all of my clients, but I continue to not only be inspired but also continue to learn equally as much from them as they do from me, and these incredible young women were no different. I don't really have a conclusion to the post today, other than if you can take away even one lesson from these young women and apply it to your relationships, your outlook and your life - I think the world would be a better place.