5 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier

I was invited by Abubakar Jamil to participate in the Life Lessons Series which I have to say (and this is in no way cynical) that apart from a great collection of articles it’s also a superb way to get cross-links. I wish I’d thought of it myself.

The theme of the series is ‘Stuff that You Wish You Had Known Earlier in Your Life’ but there are so many of those I decided to pick only five of them.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Before I go any further I’d like to make clear this is not a ‘Things I Regret’ article but life lessons. I don’t believe they were ‘mistakes’ but rather choices, assumptions or periods of my life that might have been different if I’d known then what I know now. I didn’t know then what I know now so were necessary and important and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t lived them.

I would also stress that these are all works-in-progress.

1    My Parents Are Wonderful People

Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.

At a certain point in my life I discovered, and there was no real trigger but more a growing realisation, that my parents are not to blame for all the bad decisions, personality defects and problems that beset my life.

In fact, my parents are quite wonderful human beings and I’m very proud of them. They did (and continue to do) absolutely the best they could to raise me, love me and be relationship role models. They’re perfect just the way they are and around the age of 18, when I left home, would have been a good time for me to see that and start to take full responsibility for my own life.

Actually my life turned out pretty well, I have to say, and I sometimes wonder how much different it might have turned out if I’d learned that it is me who is responsible for my life and nobody else. Certainly not those who gave me the gift of life in the first place.

2    I’m not always right

… and even when I am it’s usually not that important.

Reality is frequently inaccurate.

I used to be a person who wanted accuracy above all else, and I would gladly show people the mistakes they made.

I discovered over the years, winning an argument about whether I’m right or not is almost always a hollow victory.  I may prove a point but do very little for the relationship with the person I’m victorious over. Usually it’s rather damaging to the relationship … especially when I’m arguing over something small and insignificant.

There are matters of principle and values that are worth fighting for, so I learned to choose my arguments better.

To check with myself where the energy to argue comes from. If it’s to fuel my ego then I try to let it go. If it’s from a deeper place then I choose to stand up for what I hold as important

3    Deal with things as they arise

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.

For the last three weeks we’ve been without hot water in the kitchen because the pipe corroded and I had to turn it off at the source to prevent a leak. With the hot water pipe broken the cold water has a tendency to come out both through the nozzle of the tap and back down through the hot water pipe into the cupboard below the sink. This has happened at least 10 times in the last three weeks resulting in minor floods of the kitchen each time.

It’s an easy job to fix but one I haven’t got around to.

I’m a great procrastinator. Sometimes this works well but often it’s rather destructive. If something is bothering me, something is breaking down or things are changing, holding onto the way things are and not dealing with it just makes things worse.

Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around.

I’ve learned this is especially important in relationships where holding onto ‘stuff’ is just unhealthy. It burns and festers away inside, until when it does come out it’s expressed in an unconstructive way that can make things worse.

I’m learning to procrastinate less!

4    I’m attractive enough .. and love matters

He had personality problems beyond the dreams of analysts.

I spent most of my teenage years worrying about whether I was attractive enough, interesting enough or desirable enough to ever attract a woman. When I was 15 I was so delighted when I found one person who did find me attractive enough to be with I held onto that relationship like it was treasure.

With the passing of the years I realised rather too late that I stayed with that relationship out of fear (of being alone and that I’m not .. you know .. attractive enough etc.). I’m sad to admit it wasn’t out of the deep love you need to make a relationship flourish in the long term.

I say ‘too late’ because plenty of wonderful people got really badly hurt when I left the marriage (as it was by then) – not least of which my wife. And it took me a few more relationships and a trail of wounded people to learn the lesson.

I wish I’d known known earlier about love, relationships and that I’d had enough confidence in myself that I feared neither being with someone or being alone.

5.   There is no God

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

There … I said it!

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to work out the truth behind the Christian version of God I was brought up with, I wish I’d realised there isn’t a God much earlier. Then I could have used that time on the real journey of discovering the meaning of life and the meaning of my life.

I have no intention of offending anyone but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t believe there is a God (a deity, creator, intelligent external force or entity).

I don’t need a God, ‘sacred’ text or religion to give me purpose in life or to give me a moral code by which to live. Those are things I’m perfectly capable to work out for myself.

I’m sure there are plenty of people reading this (and even more who won’t read it Smile) who vehemently disagree and have discovered the exact opposite. If belief in a God works for you then that’s great. It doesn’t work for me and that’s great too.

You live and learn. At any rate, you live.

Isn’t the nature of life lessons that we all reach different conclusions?

And that’s just wonderful!

In case you’re wondering, all the quotes on this page are by Douglas Adams.

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