When we reflect on our past, it’s possible to see how all the puzzle pieces of our lives fit together perfectly. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s in those periods of contemplation that we realize every experience has a purpose, even if it doesn’t always feel good at the time.

It wasn’t until I lay in intensive care in 2009, struggling to breathe after a disastrous IVF cycle, that I truly figured this all out. In between the eerie fog of nausea, excruciating pain and the continuous beeping of machines, I drifted in and out of restless sleep. The doctors could do nothing to stop my deterioration, only treat the symptoms as each one arose.

As I desperately tried to make sense of what was happening to me, fear rapidly made its presence known. Feeling completely vulnerable, I could only surrender to what lay ahead and trust that everything was happening for my highest good.

I share with you now five major realizations from my time in hospital that have positively impacted both my life and those of my clients.

Life is Short

Despite knowing we don’t live forever, many of us continue to live as though we do. Time is wasted dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, getting lost in our repetitive negative thought patterns. We stagnate, change nothing and somehow expect life to improve. Yet it rarely does. When we remember that the present moment is where we can make positive changes, we begin to co-create a more fulfilling future and the happiness we deserve.

Our Heart Never Lies

We are raised believing that our head is the master thinker. It is our heart, however, that knows the truth. The answer to every question and problem lies inside our hearts. We just need to get still to be able to hear the messages we are constantly being given. Tuning into our intuition means life unfolds in miraculous ways.

Our Emotions Leave Clues

As much as we may want to resist uneasy situations and emotions, doing so unfortunately only increases our suffering. Instead, we need to acknowledge how we are feeling with gentle curiosity and remind ourselves that emotions are temporary. This will allow any discomfort to pass quicker.

Vulnerability is Our Greatest Strength

It is not until we face a crisis or go through a trauma that we understand how vulnerable each of us is. How we respond to this will make the difference between our vulnerability being experienced positively or negatively. When we accept that reaching out to others for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, we can begin to look at ourselves and life through a different lens.

Kindness is Key

Being human is messy. Pain and heartache are endured as we navigate through the inevitable challenges presented to us all. Now more than ever, the world needs kindness. Choosing compassion for ourselves and others, rather than judgement, is not only the right thing to do, but it ensures kindness comes back to us in a myriad of different ways.

And finally, know that in those dark days when we perceive we are losing ourselves, this is often when we find our true selves. It is in those moments that we understand more about who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly. And when we embrace our whole self, we’re finally able to live authentically with more ease and grace.