Updated: Oct 14, 2021
This year, I’ve begun writing the monthly “personal development” column for Sharp Women Heartland, an online magazine for women in the Strathcona County area. It has articles about health & wellness, business, finance, food, spirituality, personal growth, professional growth, relationships, lifestyle and more! If you’re interested in subscribing for free to the monthly magazine, sign up here.
Check out my article below, all about lessons that we would all benefit from learning in school.
~ Dr. Jennie Ward
Often when working with clients, I have the thought, why were we not taught these skills in school? In elementary school, I learned how to name all the planets in our solar system, but I didn’t learn until adulthood how to feel my feelings, recognize my thoughts or listen to my intuition. It can make me shake my head sometimes.
Here are a few things that we would all benefit from learning:
1) The power of self-awareness.
When I’m working with clients, I’m regularly talking about the power of knowing yourself. It can be so helpful to learn about your strengths, the areas that you’re working on improving and your potential “trigger points.” You can’t change what you’re not aware of, right? As you begin to recognize your patterns, you’ll know what areas seem to be causing problems in your life. You can adjust, modify and work to improve on handling those things that are throwing you off-kilter. You’ll start to see what you’re good at and work to maximize these abilities. By increasing self-awareness, you can learn how to live your life in a way that is in alignment with who you are and what you truly want. Self awareness alone can make a huge difference in the quality of your life.
2) The skill of choosing your thoughts.
Thoughts are running through our heads all day long and most of us don’t realize that we have the ability to decide how we think. We often focus more on changing the circumstances of our lives to try to feel better. We decide to leave that marriage, change that job or sell that house, rather than look at what’s really driving us to do these things. Taking action is an important part of life, but working on your thoughts first will get you so much further. Examine your thoughts, determine how each thought leads you to feel, then learn how to think about things in a healthier, more balanced way. Although this sounds easy, it takes a lot of practice, repetition and grit to see the benefits. It’s worth the time spent.
3) The ability to feel your feelings.
We spend so much mental energy resisting and avoiding emotions. Human beings are wired to go toward pleasure and resist pain, so, naturally, we don’t want to feel sad, angry, anxious or any other emotion that’s naturally difficult to feel. Unfortunately, when we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we experience many negative effects in our lives. We might start experiencing physical issues like chronic headaches or irritable bowel syndrome. Perhaps we start drinking too much wine or spending frivolously instead of really facing what’s going on in our emotional life. Feel your feelings. Notice where you feel it in your body. Sit with it and don’t avoid it. Trust me when I tell you your life will improve.
4) How to tap into your intuition.
Generally in society we’re taught to go through life focusing on the logical side of things. What job makes the most sense? What partner seems to have all the checks in the boxes? Then we might throw in, “but listen to your gut!” Have you ever wondered how to actually identify your intuition and begin to listen to it? A simple strategy for this is to understand what a “no” might feel like in their body. It often feels like a constriction, a tightness or a clenching. A “yes” might feel like openness, softening or a release. Often when something is a “yes,” you naturally let out a deep breathy sigh. Practice testing this out with things you already know you love and things you don’t like at all. When you think of them, what does your body do? I urge you to learn your body’s signals and train yourself to listen to them. Your life will begin to flow like never before.
5) The knowledge of how to handle money.
No surprise that money comes up a lot in therapy. Is there any topic that causes more stress? Sex maybe! Is there anyone out there that hasn’t made a mistake with their money or wishes they could go back and change a financial decision? What an incredible skill to be able to feel confident in our ability to manage money. All of us would benefit from learning the skill of budgeting, living on less than we make and investing consistently. It’s never too late to learn and there’s always time to make progress.
Do any of these skills resonate with you? Is there one that you might work on improving in your own life? Choose just that one and work to make some small changes in that area over the course of the next 30 days. You’ll be impressed with the result, I’m sure.