How to Deal With Life's Little Lessons

04/30/2014 04:13 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2014
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A few weeks ago, I shared my "Ode to the Universe" with you. The great thing about the universe is that it will deliver exactly what you need, at the time you need it. You may not want it, but if you need it, it will come. What I learned last year was that the universe is persistent. If you don't learn your lesson the first time, the universe will send it to you again and again until you get it.

So rather than hiding under a rock, I have learned that processing each lesson the universe sends me is essential for my well-being. But it's more than that. As the universe has delivered numerous lessons to my door this past year, I have learned that if I don't want to have to learn that lesson again, I need to do three things: Eat it, digest it and eliminate it.

Eat it: This is not always pleasant. I's easier to blame or deny, but if you want to actually learn your lesson and stop revisiting it, you have to swallow it whole -- no matter how bitter the taste. When I got divorced last year, it was so easy for me to blame my ex-husband for the demise of our marriage. He was never there for me, blah, blah, blah. But here's the thing, it's takes two to tango. I was not blameless in my marriage; I was never there for him either. I worked too much and spent too little time with him. Of course he pulled away. Who wouldn't when your spouse was screaming "leave me alone!" with her actions? Once I ate my lesson, I was able to release both of us from the guilt, blame and shame. We were two people doing the best we could in a situation that we had inadvertently created ourselves, and it wasn't working any more. So after trying to repair it and getting nowhere, we chose to end it.

But you can't stop there. You have to digest your lesson in order to truly learn from it.

Digest it: If you eat your lesson but don't really digest it, that lesson can turn fetid, rotting inside of us. Each universal lesson must be processed. Journal about it, talk to a friend about it, make sense of it, figure out what it all means. If you don't, you'll find yourself back at square one again. I thought I had digested my failed marriage. I ate it, churned it around a little bit and called myself cured. Then, I went on a date. I found myself treating my date exactly how I had treated my ex -- mothering him, nurturing him, implicating that he couldn't do anything for himself as I had done with my husband. It scared both of us and we never made it to date two. But more importantly, I realized that while I might have "eaten" the lessons I learned from my marriage, I hadn't digested them. I hadn't truly changed. I needed to dive deeper, to figure out why I was codependent in my marriage, why I acted differently around potential romantic partners than anyone else in my life. This is a lesson that I am still digesting. After being with someone for 21 years, I've learned that you can't digest all of the lessons that person taught you overnight!

Once you've fully and truly learned your lesson then, and only then, you can eliminate it.

Eliminate it: Scary, huh? Elimination is letting go of the blame, guilt and shame that you digested. It's moving on, leaving your baggage at the door, never to return. It's accepting responsibility for your own life and your own actions. It's becoming owner of your fate from this moment forward. You see, the past -- if you've truly eaten and digested it -- no longer matters. It's about living in the present moment. But to be fully present, you have to let go of what's holding you back. This is a difficult step to accomplish. After all, it's easier to hold grudges and place blame on people who have wronged us. In reality, no one wronged us -- we had a lesson we needed to learn based on our own past actions and circumstances in life. If we truly learned the lesson (ate it and digested it), there is no need to hold onto it anymore. It's time to let it go.

I wish I could say that I always followed my own advice -- eating, digesting and eliminating life's little lessons -- but I'm only human and sometimes I buy into the self-pity/blame trap because it just looks so darn appealing. Of course, I have plenty of friends to call me on it when I do that. Then I go back to eating, digesting and eliminating.

So here's to the universe and life's little, and not-so-little, lessons. May you find the courage to eat them, the strength to digest them and the wisdom to let them pass through you.