Lessons Are Best Learned When Experienced

Lessons LearnedI’ve been reflecting on the experiences I learned and lived in 2016, and in this article I’m sharing a few lessons I’ve known for years, which I was able to experience and embody more fully last year:



  1. You only feel judged by someone if you judge your own self.

Although this lesson made a lot of sense to me, I didn’t know how not to feel judged. Every time I felt judged, I started to practice going inward, and checking in. Am I judging myself? Is it something truly relevant here that need to be judged? More often than not I felt judged when others judged me, until this happened…

A friend reached out for help with a stressful situation, and I shared how I’d handle it. We talked about speaking up and asking for what he needed, visualizing the results, releasing attachments to any and all possible outcomes, setting intentions that the highest good of all were realized, trusting that the universe would take care of it, surrendering; allowing the situation to unfold as it may, and most of all, not obsessing about it 24 hours a day. As I shared my experience and the tools I had, he felt aggravated, he cursed, called it mumble jumble, doubted that I had ever experienced any results, or that it would work in his situation. I stayed on the phone with him, and let him vent. The next day he apologized, mentioning that he didn’t know how I was able to stay with him while he challenged everything I shared.

It’s simple. I didn’t feel judged, and I could hold space for him to doubt the tools, and even to doubt me. I have no judgment towards the tools I’ve learned and have applied multiple times in my life. I don’t need to convince anybody, or to make it work for someone else to know that they do work.

Now, judge me on my weight, on some relationship choices, on my lack of will to exercise, or on my love for binge watching Netflix, and I’ll certainly join you in judging myself. Only after someone was expressively judging me, without me feeling it, I understood this lesson from both sides, of being judged and feeling judged, and of being judged and not feeling judged at all.

I invite you to consider the next time you feel judged by someone, go inward – is there any part of it that is true for you? If yes, can you change it, or change how you feel about you? And the next time you hear someone judge you, and you don’t feel judged, can you have an awareness of it, and acknowledge your own maturity and growth?

  1. You can love or receive love as much as you love yourself – to expand the love you give or receive to and from others, expand how you feel about yourself.

This makes total sense, doesn’t it? The key question may be how to grow our love for ourselves, since often it feels easier to love someone else. A few years ago I launched a 30-day self-love challenge that ended up lasting 45 days. The truth is that self-love is a constant daily practice. Although I was starting to feel better about myself, I’m not sure if there was a perceived expansion in my capacity to give and receive love.

In the beginning of 2016 I set the intention to have a better year than the year before. I figured I couldn’t fail as the previous year was quite difficult. It was a simple resolution, and it made a huge difference. One of the decisions I made that is relevant here, is the decision I wrote about in my previous post, to send hand written letters to at least 100 people who had impacted my life at some point, either last year or even years before.

The process of writing the letters felt so good that my self-love was growing with each hand-made hand-written letter/card. It was sort of a gift to me to be acknowledging and seeing the brilliance and essence of others. I also painted a few customized T-shirts for friends and family members. (The one featured in this post, I painted for myself after struggling with self-expression at an event.) I also made an effort to become my best friend as much as possible.

During the last minutes of 2016, I decided to read the cards I had received back during the year as well as holiday cards. Each of them warmed my heart in a sweet and meaningful way, and I realized in that moment, that my capacity to love both myself and others had considerably increased. I could feel my own expansion, and it was touching. I even doubted it, and journaled with my higher self – did this really happen? Can I truly feel the expansion? Am I ever going to lose it? And the answer was that indeed I had expanded – I guess you can’t fake expansion, and that as long as I carry on the practice of giving and receiving love, the expansion would continue. I don’t discard the value of everything else I’ve done before, but it seems that in 2016 I may have achieved the so called quantum leap.

How can you upgrade your self-love practice? What else can you do for you today to make you feel loved and nurtured by you?

  1. I’ll save this one for my next book. : )

My invitation to you is to put in practice at least one of the lessons you have learned on your journey. That one lesson that makes total sense, but you haven’t truly embraced, practiced or experienced it fully yet. What would it be? How would it feel? How could you take steps towards bringing it into your life? Please do it without attachment of the outcome or judgment for not being there yet.

I only was able to acknowledge my experience in retrospect. I thought it was enough to know the lessons conceptually. I didn’t have the ability to know in my core how to live them, until I looked back and felt that I had indeed experienced them. The lessons we learn from our soul, teachers, coaches, therapists, spiritual guides, etc., are good to grasp and understand, and then it is up to us to live it, to challenge ourselves to do things differently, to move forward one small, even tiny step at the time, and then as time passes, observe and be aware of the results.

Feel free to share your own lessons you either know conceptually but haven’t experienced yet, or that you know and have experienced.


Elisa Balabram

PS. I learned those lessons conceptually from the teacher and therapist Ron Baker.

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