I’ve just turned 29 years, and I’m very excited about that! I enjoy each of my birthdays and 29 happens to be my lucky number, so I take this opportunity to write about 29 most valuable lessons I’ve learned.

Especially the lessons that I wish my younger self would know sooner so I could have saved myself some difficulties and tough times.

As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in a fantastic coffee place in Java island. They happen to sell here amazing “jewelry for the soul” and many hand-made statues. My husband and I just finished a 3-day hike to Mt. Ijen and Mt. Bromo in Java. We saw the volcano churning out sulfate and gas during the night which locals call the “blue fire” as the color really turns blue during the night and then we continued climbing to the summit to see the sunrise.

At Mt. Bromo we also rode horses in a volcano dessert which was splendid as they led me to ride the horse alone without anyone holding the bridle. It felt like sheer freedom to me.

I’m grateful that I’ve learned so many things in my first 29 years. Many lessons I have learned the hard way, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Overcoming many challenges has helped me to incorporate the lessons into my everyday life which matters the most.

My first 29 years in a shortcut

I was born in a challenging environment which happened to be the best to shape my mental and spiritual abilities. Sometimes, the best way is to walk directly through the fire. At the age of 10, I’ve begun to study the ancient history, the Universe and quantum physics, the power of the mind, philosophy, and many other sciences.

I’ve always gravitated to the knowledge and understanding the essence of things. Which has built a solid background for what I do now. Another major experience was a six-year relationship which has taught me a lot about love, especially how it doesn’t look like. It was a learning curve for me which has shaped me into a person I’m today.

In 2011, I met a man who has awaken my soul. Thanks to him, I stopped running away from myself and slowly began to open to my gifts. Although we’ve never been together, he was the catalyst for my rapid spiritual awakening.

I’ve also studied two master degrees in business and international trade which has brought me to China. In China, I’ve undertaken profound transformation as you can read in my book “Find Yourself.”

Just after I returned from China after two years, I met my husband. With him, I’ve experienced a different level of relationship which feels relaxed, natural, loving, and supportive. I know that if I had met him just a little earlier, I wouldn’t have been ready for him.

I worked for a while in marketing and HR and was getting my expertise and starting my business on the side. I’ve written two books, have had many workshops and seminars in different countries, had a TEDx talk in Kuala Lumpur, have been featured in many magazines and as I’m writing these words I travel with my husband in Asia visiting many amazing places. We both work with a computer, except when I have speaking gigs or workshops which give us the freedom to chose where we want to go.

It’s funny because when I began to open to the idea of living this way it was just a distant dream and now it’s my life. How amazing! You never know what happens if you open to it.

29 Things I’ve learned in 29 years

  1. Cherish your challenges. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. When my life looked far from happy, I thought that it wasn’t fair that I had to experience so many difficulties. I wished that I would wake up one day and problems would just disappear. But the more I hoped for having a magic wand, the tenser my challenges have felt. Now I understand that sometimes the shortest way is to walk through the fire and stay open. Don’t close your eyes. Look around and see what the challenges are meant to teach you.
  2. Life happens for you, not to you. Everything in life happens for our higher good. Especially when we don’t see it. Sometimes the life needs to get us from point A to point B by redirecting our path, and it always feels hard. But at the end of the day, you find out that it’s all happening FOR you not TO you. I’ve learned that I must trust and stay open even if I’d prefer a different kind of reality. There is always a higher reason for redirection and hardship. The ultimate purpose of all of us is to evolve, and the life makes sure we’ll even if we don’t feel like we want.
  3. Honor your uniqueness. Until I finished the high school, I felt like an alien. Anyone else? I felt like I didn’t belong and that was probably true, but now I know that this is a good thing. It’s because I’m different than anyone else that I can bring and create something new for others. Other people sometimes need to talk to the “alien” to feel understood. Which ways are you different? Learn to accept them and make them your strength.
  4. Read other people. Not everyone wants to support us and is genuinely happy for our success. I’ve expected certain people to support me because they “should, ” but it was like waiting for a pink unicorn. It never comes. The sooner you understand this, the better as you save yourself some disappointments. We’re all different, and some people aren’t able to be happy for others. Recognizing this can make you more aware and ready to deal with them (by not letting them take you down). See people as they’re.
  5. Let go of people who aren’t happy for you. This is something that I’ve learned just recently, during last few years. I thought that you can always trust your friends, so I was finding excuses for friends who have shared my secrets with others or who have been envious. I had a feeling that I had to understand them and forgive them but that isn’t true. When people aren’t happy about their lives, they tend to be envious of others. If this happens to you with your friends, let them go. Save your time and energy for people who aren’t intimidated by you living your dreams. Sometimes these people can also be your family members, then set some clear borders.
  6. Learn to say what you want and mean. We’re always responsible for our decisions. Even when we feel pushed into certain situations. We can always speak up and say what we really want. This is especially important in relationships – in work, partnership, family, and with friends. Saying what we mean prevents ambiguity and confusion. Whenever people don’t know, they tend to create assumptions and their explanations. Therefore, the only way how to make other knows what you want is to tell them.
  7. Don’t compromise. I know that this can be a tricky topic for many people, but I don’t believe in compromises. They leave both parties feeling miserable. Perhaps not at first but after some time and some more compromises it pushes others away, and it makes you feel demotivated and numb. Just think about it; when you always compromise what you want, it leaves you drained and a bit empty. You lose a bit of yourself. The compromise doesn’t make you happy so you cannot be nice and happy to the other party that has wanted you to compromise. I believe that we all have the right to listen to our hearts and souls and if that works for others, then it’s a blessing. But if it doesn’t you cannot compromise the person you’re. I’ve seen so many unhappy people burying their dreams just because of compromising what has mattered to them. After some time, you stop believing that you can have what you want, so you stop even trying and believing.
  8. Become a friend of your mind. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. Until 2012, I didn’t understand my mind and was swept by negative thoughts and patterns. I saw no way out of that space until I slowly began learning about my mind and why I was having certain negative self-sabotaging thoughts. This has laid the foundation for me to help people overcome and understand their own patterns. It’s extremely difficult to create the life you want if you hear constant setbacks in your mind so this is one of the most important places to start.
  9. Be brutally honest with your feelings. Our feelings are messengers about what is going on deep within. If we shoot the messenger, we never learn the lesson. Feelings are so powerful that they inform us whether we’re on the right path, what we want when we should say no, or what we need to face to let go of any negative pattern. People are afraid to feel. They do anything possible to avoid getting in touch with their feelings, but this leads to a life without inner peace. Thus, get to know yourself through your feelings.
  10. Protect your energy. I wish I’d have known this earlier. Already when I was born. Our environment and people are interconnected with us all the time. The more sensitive ones among us can get quickly swept away by its intensity. Energies, thoughts, and intentions of others are influencing us. Although we cannot touch it or see it, we can feel it. Learning how to protect yourself energetically can be a life changer. Many times, our thoughts and moods don’t belong to us, we’ve just picked them up from others.
  11.  Learning the fact that I’m an empath. Some people are born empaths. I’m one of them. Being an empath means that you can feel other’s feelings and thoughts within yourself as if they’d be your own. You think it’s you thinking and feeling something, but it can be the person next to you. This leads to mood swings and tons of confusion. When I spent two years basically on my own, I was a different person, and I’ve realized what it feels like to be me which has helped me to distinguish when I’m picking up someone else’s energy and when to turn it on and off.
  12. Being disciplined trains the mind. I don’t like discipline by nature; I had to learn to like it. I’ve learned that when I’m disciplined, I feel much better, I accomplish more, and I have more positive thoughts. The more disciplined I get, the easier it is to finish things with less effort. Discipline builds the momentum.
  13. Finding your way is okay. I’ve never had a guru or a teacher in a traditional sense. Mostly I was my own guru. The first 18 years I hated it, I wanted some magical grandpa to appear in front of me and answer my questions. It hasn’t happened, it was more like me being the magical grandpa for others. I used to think that something was wrong with me until I understood that I don’t need it. I have everything within, and most importantly I can create my own way. Even if I’d be the only person on the whole planet doing something a certain way, it’s okay. We don’t have to follow others because others are quite likely not perfect. They also don’t know. Be brave to create your own way – the way that works for you.
  14. Listening to the intuition. Intuition is always correct. We all know it yet we still test it at times to see what happens if we act against our intuition. I’ve learned that the rational mind is great for computing what the diagonal distance of our galaxy (which I did by the way when I was 14) is but when it comes to the real life decisions, forget the rational mind. It works with patterns and with saved information. Whereas the intuition is the direct communicating tool with our soul, who knows where and why we’re going. It’s just much smarter to listen to the one who has the information we need.
  15. Don’t make your decisions based on others. This was a big game changer for me. Like many other women, I also used to listen to the “good” opinions of others. I thought that it’s the part of being the good obedient girl. Oh, how I was wrong! No one else knows better what is the best for you than you. Others are most likely lost themselves. I’ve “wasted” years by making decisions based on the fear of losing their approval instead of giving it to myself. This is what we should teach our children – it’s okay to follow your heart, that’s why it sends you these beautiful dreams. Don’t let others interfere. Get inspired, but it’s you who has to choose.
  16. Be your own best friend, don’t look for the validation outside. I know that we’re social beings and having friends is important. Yet it should never replace the relationship you have with yourself. Choose your friends wisely because they’ll influence you. If you feel like they’re dragging you down, then they probably do. Sometimes we think that our peer group is the best and positive but not everything that looks perfect actually is. Always be there for yourself and be ready to stand out and be “the black sheep” if you need to. Don’t let anyone hold you back.
  17. Learn how to love yourself. I don’t say just “love yourself” because that is said easier than done. It’s about learning. Loving yourself is a process and sometimes a life-long process. Yet I believe that we should all try to find more love for ourselves. Everyone can become more self-loving in distinct ways. Find the ways that work for you and then keep showing up for yourself moment by moment. It gets easier.
  18. Be there for yourself. Always. Life happens, and sometimes it’s testing us at all levels. People we love, leave, people we trust disappoint us, our dreams don’t work out, we get sick and tired. But at all these times, you’re the only person who is there with you. Don’t abandon yourself when life gets complicated; it’s time you need yourself the most. Be honest and admit that you could have done better but don’t leave yourself because of that.
  19. Strengthen your connection with your soul on a daily basis. I used to look for something that would make me feel fulfilled. I’d searched for it in the books, other people, in hobbies, traveling. In all the wrong places. Feeling fulfilled and happy cannot be found outside ourselves. Yet we all spend years searching for it right there. The primary relationship is the one we have with our soul and with the higher power we believe (whatever it is, labels don’t matter, neither of them is precise anyway). Find yourself, find that secret and special place where you connect with your soul. Let it guide you and let it act through you.
  20.  Embody your soul. This a mantra I live by – or at least do my best. If I were to sum up our life purpose in just a couple of words, then it’d be “embody your soul.” Embodying your soul means expressing the very essence of you. The never changing essence of your deepest part. I know that this may sound like something we cannot reach easily but trust me that anyone of us can do it. That’s why we’re here.
  21. Create the life you want. Your life is yours. You’re responsible for yourself and living and expressing your most beautiful dreams. No one can find happiness by living dreams of someone else. I know that we’ve created a society which loves systems and structures – especially those systems that don’t work for anyone. Yet I invite you to use your precious life for doing something that matters to you. Even if no one else agrees and supports you, do what makes you feel alive.
  22. Have your routines. Find something that helps you to get reconnected to yourself and bring balance into your life. I don’t say that it needs to be meditation and yoga. Just do whatever brings balance into your life. This builds a strong core that is like an anchor in the midst of the storm. You can change the routine whenever you want. Although I have routines, every day it looks a bit different. Diversity works for me the best. What makes you feel good and grounded?
  23.  Don’t try to save and change others. We want our dearest people to be happy, but it’s their choice. We cannot force them doing something that they aren’t ready and open for. Everyone has own growing and learning curve. The pace is between them and their soul. We cannot push others to do something if they don’t want. By doing so, we only deplete ourselves and harm the relationship with them.
  24. Spend time alone and get to know yourself. I know that this is possible always. Not everyone can travel alone or live abroad alone but we can all find moments for ourselves and our thoughts. Without knowing who you’re, you’ll keep being swept away by others. They’ll try to impose their will on you, and you’ll feel confused because you’ll not know what you want and who you’re. When you know who you’re, you also know what your dreams are, and you feel more guided.
  25.  Real love doesn’t hurt. This may also be controversial because many of us have experienced the painful love. Yet the only thing that can hurt us is our love illusions bursting. The love that is supporting and not demanding cannot hurt. It’s our ego that gets hurt. I like the saying by the Alexander the Great; “True love never has a happy ending, because there is no ending to true love.”
  26.  A partnership should feel easy not like a struggle. My first relationship was a struggle, so I thought that it’s like that in every relationship. Therefore, I even stopped seeking for any relationship for some time. Feeling at ease in a relationship requires two things. One is that you get to know yourself and learn to help yourself (not expecting your partner to save you). Two, you find the right partner which again goes back to knowing yourself. You have to be very clear on who you want and what your standards are.
  27.  Relationships are assignments. All of our relationships are assignments, especially the romantic ones. They teach us which parts of ourselves we need to integrate and what lessons we need to learn. Your partner is a mirror to you, and they reflect your true self to you. The part of you that you wish to hide, but they don’t let you, so you have to face it and deal with it.
  28. Deal with your baggage in a partnership. I said this earlier, but I want to stress it out again because it’s so vital. Don’t expect your partner to save you and heal you. If that happens, great, but it’s your own responsibility. The moment you build these expectations you’re slowly killing your relationship (and yourself). Don’t expect them to support you in your drama and instead heal it yourself.
  29. Don’t control the outcomes. Sometimes we want to keep ourselves safe by trying to control the outcomes, but then we don’t allow the good things to come our way. The controlling energy is the energy of restriction. It’s like being in a perpetual spasm. It costs too much energy, and we put ourselves in a cage. It’s better to learn to receive. Just breathe and take it easy, the life gets much better.

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Originally published at sylviasalow.com


  • Sylvia Salow

    Life Coach, Public Speaker, Author. TEDx Talk:http://bit.ly/TEDxLifePurpose

    Sylvia Salow is a life coach, international public speaker, and author. Her mission is to help people step into their potential by guiding them to release their limiting beliefs that keep them from the life they desire. In her work, she guides people to rewire their mindset, clear up the energy blueprints of limiting patterns, and reconnect them with their inner guidance. You can also watch her TEDx Talk on "How to Feel and Find Your Life Purpose." Download a FREE guide to help you find your life purpose. Or join a weekly newsletter to receive new articles and inspiration, as well as, free past monthly challenges. Read more at her website: www.sylviasalow.com or get inspired by her two books.