Mental Health, Mind, Progress, Soul

Learning from 2017

We’re almost at the end of the year, so there is a lot of review and reflection going on at the moment.

“F*ck off 2017” is a bit of a common theme. It hasn’t been the best year for many people I know, myself included. Losing my mum, going through a hurricane, friends going through relationship breakups, their own loss, money problems. Family fall outs. Questionable political situations. More natural disasters. General death, destruction, etc etc. You name it, it seems to have happened in 2017.

So it is understandable that many people want rid of the year. They want it over so that they can just forget about it all. But I’ve decided that, despite the bad stuff, I need to look at things a bit differently.

I have been trying to be more positive and with project 35 – becoming my best self – that means I want to learn from my experiences. The good and the bad. 2017 on the whole has had some pretty dark times, and they were not enjoyable. But, those things cannot be changed, they cannot be undone, so instead I want to find the positives in what has happened, to learn and grow from the tough times. We are who we are because of the experiences we have. We can become our best selves by learning from the experiences, and in my opinion particularly the bad ones.
Some have asked me “how can you turn a negative into a positive?” Well, to be honest, you can’t, not really. Some people can I”m sure, but I think often they are in denial or just ignoring things. But then that is the wrong question to ask. I believe that the way to actually approach things is to think of what you can learn. You need to identify and understand what is different. If you can see what is missing then you can see where you have space to grow. It might be something that makes it easier to deal with something. It might be a new perspective on things. They say you shouldn’t have regrets – because you know, that is about feeling bad about something you can’t change. If it is something you can change and it makes you feel bad then you should change it, but that’s maybe a different blog post…
For example – I *may* have mentioned that I have been through a category 5 hurricane that destroyed my little piece of paradise in the caribbean (if you missed that, have a look at this).
  • I had to deal with losing most of the things I owned – I gained a new perspective – learnt to identify what was really important in terms of material and immaterial things.
  • I had to deal with coming back to an island where there was no electricity and limited functionality – to make things easier I have had to be more patient. I have done a lot of the queuing (some queues more efficient than others) and getting stressed about the wait doesn’t make the queue move any quicker!
  • I have had to deal with a lot of stress and frustration generally and I believe I have become better at dealing with and expressing my emotions in a constructive way as it makes it easier to deal with them.
  • I have had to deal with (and continue to deal with) many others who are also stressed and frustrated and I believe I have become more compassionate and increased my levels of empathy for those around me. Being more conscious of a need to be empathetic has made it easier to deal with people who I may have otherwise thought of as difficult.
And that is just a direct result of the hurricane – it is without thinking about what I have been through and learnt from my mum passing away or any of the other sh*t that has gone on this year.

2017 as a whole seems to have had more of an impact on me than any other year of my life so far (OK, in terms of a year that I can remember – I’m sure learning to walk and talk were pretty fundamental but you know, #everyonedoesthat ). BUT, as a result, I believe I’m going to be leaving 2017 as a better person than the one that entered 2017. And that is a good thing.

It’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns going forward however. I know that. Whilst there are few certainties in life, sadly death and destruction are certainties. Drawing from the uncomfortable times I’ve experienced this year I hope will help me to deal with the bad stuff in the future, so I’ll be in a better position than I would have been for whenever the next “thing” happens.

Here are two of my favourite quotes to finish off for today, which I think kind of sum up my view of 2017 and beyond… enjoy.


“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”


“If you want to see a rainbow, you have to have some sunshine and some rain”


Photo credit: me – Tortola, Christmas Day 2017

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