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Life is your greatest teacher: how to identify life lessons

Have you ever heard the expression “Life is your greatest teacher?”

We often feel like we need to search for answers to life’s problems through self-help books, or by spending hours trawling the internet for advice and guidance. However, many of the answers we are seeking are presented to us in different forms throughout our life journey. We just need to tune in and pay attention to the signs.

Author Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Life presents us with opportunities for growth every single day, and our greatest lessons come from our own lived experiences. The most profound lessons show up through the people we meet and the experiences we have.

Generally, our greatest teachers are those with whom we share the most intimate relationships; particularly our partner, family and friends. You could read all the self-help books in the world, which are great stepping stones and provide wonderful insight. But the secret to embracing life’s most valuable lessons, come from your relationships and experiences.

When you pay attention to your experiences and relationships, you begin to see how life is presenting you with lessons. They may show up in many different shapes and forms, but life has a way of giving you a gentle nudge towards the lessons you need; in order to learn and grow. This is why, above everything life is your greatest teacher.

Shapes and Forms of Life Lessons

Life lessons are presented to us in many different shapes and forms. The problem is, it’s often only in hindsight that we see the true value in these lessons. Hindsight is a great teacher, and part of being human is making mistakes and learning from them.

However, throughout our lives we develop unhealthy patterns and addictions that keep us ‘stuck’. They distract us from learning and growing from our mistakes and inflict great suffering on ourselves and others.

But what if you could learn to identify lessons as they show up in your life?

Is it possible to become aware of the lessons, as and when they present themselves?

The answer is, yes.

Life is there to support you, it just takes a bit of patience and awareness.

Gaining understanding of the shapes and forms of life lessons will naturally increase your awareness when situations arise. They present themselves in the following ways:


Do you ever feel like the same lesson keeps presenting itself over and over again? You might feel like you keep attracting a certain type of person into your life. Or maybe you feel like you are having constant ‘bad luck’. The actual situation will differ, but there may be a sense of the same experience repeating itself in different forms.


Relationships can teach you a lot about yourself. Throughout your life you will encounter many different relationships; each and every one holds valuable lessons to be learnt. Whether you are conscious of it or not, traits you like or dislike in others are often mirrored in yourself.

Discover more about mirroring others in my article, Other people are Mirrors of Ourselves.


Everyone has patterns that they develop in order to cope with life, and certain patterns can keep you ‘stuck’. Life will present you with opportunities to break these old patterns in order to learn and grow. When you pay attention, you might identify where these patterns are no longer serving you.


Most people tend to avoid conflict. Let’s face it, conflict feels painful and uncomfortable. But the truth is, every single one of us will be forced to deal with conflict at some point in our lives. Believe it or not, conflict can provide you with some of your most valuable life lessons. It comes down to taking responsibility by identifying your response when dealing with conflict.

“Life is a continual process of learning and evolving. A journey, with each step bringing you closer to uncovering your true nature once again.”

How to Identify Life Lessons

1. Practice Awareness

The most important thing to remember when it comes to identifying life lessons is, “Life is your greatest teacher.” When situations arise, pause and ask yourself, “What is life asking me to pay attention to at this moment?”

By pausing and honing in on your awareness, you are able to shift your mindset and separate your emotional response to a situation. Maybe life is giving you the opportunity to deal with conflict with a positive approach. Or perhaps someone has come into your life in order to teach you a particular lesson about yourself.

2. Shift your perception

Instead of viewing a perceived ‘negative’ situation as an inconvenience, view it as an opportunity. Every situation that presents itself to you is an opportunity for growth, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem at the time.

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have, so use your perception wisely. As Helen Schucman once said, “Every situation, properly perceived, becomes and opportunity.”

3. Listen to your intuition

Life is constantly presenting you with subtle hints and clues. They come as intuitive messages and guidance, that’s why it is important to tune into your intuition. We often lose touch with our instinctual nature, but with practice it becomes stronger. “Your intuition is a muscle. To develop it you must use it.”

Pay attention to the subtle messages, bodily sensations and inklings that are presented to you in any given situation. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I knew that was going to happen,” just after something occurred? This is your intuition speaking. You have the ability to tap into a higher source of wisdom and knowing if you choose to listen.

4. Recognise patterns

As discussed earlier, part of life’s great lessons is recognising painful patterns that keep you ‘stuck’ and hold you back. When you are able to identify negative patterns, you give yourself the opportunity for growth.

When you find yourself reacting to a situation in a particular way that hinders your self-growth, pause and pay attention. See if you can identify a pattern in this behaviour. Ask yourself, “what is the trigger for this pattern?” Once you can identify the trigger, you are able to implement new positive behaviours, which will eventually become second nature.

5. Practice mindfulness

Meditation is a wonderful mindfulness tool for increasing awareness. By quieting your mind, you give yourself the opportunity to reflect, learn and tune into the lessons that life is presenting you with.

6. Relax, allow life to unfold

When you allow yourself to be open and trust life, a dramatic shift occurs in all aspects of your life. Everything moves in ebbs and flows; this is the natural rhythm of life. When you try to control or fight against the natural flow, it causes disharmony and blockages. Trust that life is your greatest teacher, by allowing things to manifest in divine timing.

What life lessons and experiences have you gained, which have empowered you to be the person you are today? Share your comments below.

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