MindfulnessPersonal Growth

Thoughts, Reflections & Lessons Learned in 2016

Thoughts, Reflections, and Lessons Learned in 2016 | The Blissful Mind

Wow, 2016. You were an interesting year. I would say it’s been one of the most difficult years I’ve had in a long time in terms of my emotional health, and it seems a lot of people agree (and I feel somewhat reassured knowing I’m not the only one).

Thoughts, Reflections, and Lessons Learned in 2016 | The Blissful Mind

Negative things have happened, and positive things have happened. It’s a lot easier to let the negatives outweigh the positives, and I feel like I let myself focus on the negatives more often than not this year. I say let myself because I do believe it’s a choice. Sometimes we let ourselves take the easy route, even though it’s the one that hinders us from finding contentment in life.

Throughout 2016, there were feelings of restlessness, self-doubt, and an overall sense of being uprooted. There were also moments of joy, self-discovery, and forgiveness towards myself and others.

Today, I wanted to share with you some reflections and lessons I’ve learned in 2016. I also encourage you to reflect on your year and think about what you’ve learned, accomplished, let go of, and embraced. Here’s to 2016 and a brighter 2017!

Lessons Learned in 2016

Don't believe every thing you think.

1. Ask if you actually believe your thoughts.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in 2016 (and I only learned this at the very end of the year, of course), is to differentiate thoughts from fact. I was listening to Jess Lively’s podcast interview with Byron Katie, and I had a mega a-ha moment when Byron started to talk about how we create our own pain by believing thoughts that are simply not true. As someone who worries a lot of the time, I can create the most negative and ridiculous thoughts in my head sometimes. Since listening to Byron Katie’s advice, if I catch myself thinking of something in my head that worries me, I ask myself whether this is a fact or just a thought. I try to ask myself, ‘Do you really believe that? Do I know that it’s true?’ whenever I’m worrying or having a negative thought. I encourage you to ask yourself whether you truly believe your thoughts or whether you’re just creating fictional stories in your head.

2. Focus on what you’re doing.

One of the greatest lessons I learned this year was the importance of focusing on myself. I know that may sound a little selfish, but I mean it in terms of focusing on my own goals, values, and needs. I feel like I forgot who I was at the beginning of the year, and instead of working to become me again, I tried to impress other people, forgot about my own goals, and let my emotional well-being deteriorate. I became distrustful of others because I was spending too much time analyzing their words and behavior instead of paying attention to my own words and behavior.

Rather than worrying about what other people (family, friends, partners, strangers) are doing, focus instead on what you’re doing. What are you doing to get you closer to your goals, to improve your health, to create more joy in your life? I’m not saying you should disregard others and push your relationships aside. I’m saying don’t try to control other people, don’t let their behavior affect your motivation, and let yourself and others be free to do what they want.

Related Post: Are You A High-Value Person? Here’s How To Tell.

3. Always listen to your intuition.

Your gut instinct is way more powerful than you can imagine. If you really listen to what your intuition is telling you, you’ll realize that so many answers to difficult questions are already within you. More often than not, we let our ego cloud our perceptions of people, situations, and decisions. We try to rationalize people’s behavior and put up with crappy situations because we hope things will get better. Listen to what your inner voice is telling you to do. Trust that you know what is right for you, despite what anyone else says. Once I finally learned this lesson, life become a whole lot easier.

4. Don’t pressure yourself with too many goals.

Over the past two years, I’ve set myself three goals every month and shared them on my blog. You may have noticed that I stopped doing this after October. The reason? I felt so much pressure to come up with three goals every month that it wasn’t fun anymore. I would only ever achieve one of them at the most, and I felt like I was only coming up with goal ideas so that I could publish a blog post. I know many of you love these posts because you’re goal-setting peeps too, but from now on, I don’t think I’ll be sharing monthly goals anymore. That doesn’t mean I won’t have goals. It just means I won’t be forcing myself to come up with three new ones every single month. I hope you’ll understand!

Related Post: Planning vs. Flowing: How To Find The Right Balance

5. Forgive yourself.

We’ve all made choices we regret. Sometimes they nag at us in the back of our heads for much longer than they should, and it’s easy to think back and wonder how life could have been different had we not made that choice. Truth be told, we’ll never be able to revisit the moments before the decision was made. If we continue to dwell on the past and doubt our own judgment, we are only furthering our own suffering. There comes a time when our only choice to feel joy again is to forgive ourselves for our decisions, no matter how difficult, heartbreaking, or painful they may have been. You have to show yourself forgiveness and trust that you made the decision for your own good and for the good of everyone around you. Every life choice is a lesson to be learned, and only with self-compassion can we truly understand and recognize the positive impact of that lesson.

Related Post: Vulnerability, Loneliness, And Where The Heck Have I Been?

What lessons did you learn in 2016? Leave a comment below!

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Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! The Blissful Mind is your guide to being the calmest, healthiest, most productive version of yourself. Whether you're trying to slow down, de-stress, or feel more content, I’m here to help make life a little less complicated.
  • Holly

    I absolutely loved reading this. I’m such a worrier too so I can completely relate to you there! I really have to give myself a talking to and ask if I’m making too much of a situation when there really isn’t anything to worry about. I’ve found journaling really helps with that. A goal for me in 2017 is to definitely be more present :) wishing you all the best for the new year!

  • Oui In France

    Sage advice, Catherine, thank you. Listening to our intuition is a big one and can be so difficult because like you said, you hope things will get better. But more often than not it’s right!

  • This was such an honest and thoughtful post Catherine, thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry you had a difficult year. Your posts are always a breath of fresh air and a force of positive energy so I thank YOU for bringing that and sharing it with us on your blog! This was so well written and you conveyed your thoughts so eloquently. I enjoyed reading your reflections and resonated with so many things that you wrote about, in particular: “Don’t believe everything you think. Sometimes we create our own pain through assumptions.” I tend to overthink things and as a result, end up making a lot of assumptions or ‘stories’ in my head that lead me down a path of negative self talk -I really needed that reminder.

    Thank you for continuously creating such amazing content! Have a happy holiday :)

  • Such wise thoughts, as always, Catherine! Number 2 and 4 really struck me, as I think my word for 2017 will be focus, and I’m doing my best not to set any new years resolutions. Kind of inspired by your monthly goal posts, in that I want to choose one or two things every month to really focus on. I’ll be sitting down soon to reflect on the year, and seeing what lessons I’ve learned as well.

  • I love what you said about sometimes not believing your own thoughts. I think I can definitely be my own harshest critic and that isn’t always productive or good. I always love your honestly and seriously profound insight. Thank you! Happy new year!

    xx, Pia
    http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

  • Yes! I’ve had to learn ALL of these lessons this year. Especially the first one, my mind has been a mess this year. I’ve also had to learn how to have faith and not try to control everything. To have faith that everything will be fine even if I don’t know how. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • jillconyers

    Forgiveness for others comes so much easier to me than forgiveness for myself. On July 15 at a yoga retreat in the Smokey Mountains to complete yoga teacher training I forgave myself [wholeheartedly] for putting my body and heart through an eating disorder. I’ll never forget the exact moment and the realization that forgiveness was the one thing that was missing from my recovery journey. Wishing you a healthy and happy new year Catherine.

  • Emilia

    I totally understand #4, but I thought you might like to know that you’ve inspired me to set one mini goal for every month of 2017! In the past I’ve started every new year with a long list of lofty goals, and usually NONE of them get “accomplished” in the way I’d like. I’m really excited to spend January focusing on developing a meditation practice. Happy New Year!

  • 4.Don’t pressure yourself with too many goals.

    I was just thinking about that before reading this post. This year I managed to stress up myself with doing multiple things at the same time and I managed to do a lot but it left me feeling miserable, worried and concerned with thoughts racing in my brain all the time. But the good part is that it gave me and idea about how much I can take on concurrently, so I am slowing down a bit. Happy new year to you :)

  • I love this post so much Catherine. What a lesson-filled year you’ve had! I particularly loved the lesson about not setting yourself too many goals. I know this is something so many people do and often my clients come to me wanting to work on SO many things, but I really believe — and have experienced — how powerful it is to focus on achieving less things but actually really taking meaningful action towards them.

    I learnt so many things in 2016 (it was quite a challenging year for me too) but the one that stands out the most is that I’m capable of doing things that scare me.

    I hope 2017 is an incredible year for you Catherine!

    • I definitely experienced the same thing when I worked with some practice clients for my coaching course! It can be so tempting to want to achieve everything, but it’s really about picking and choosing what’s going to be the most rewarding in the long run xo

      • Ahhhh yes! I completely agree Catherine. Narrowing in on what’s really important and focusing on that is so powerful 🙌

        PS. What coaching course did you do?