I used to constantly need approval from others. Approval that I was good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, worthy enough, and so on.

Right along with my constant need for approval, I had a bad case of the "I'll be happy whens." When I get that job, make more friends (or more money), have a perfect body, finally find my dream partner ... and the list could go on.

I was desperately looking to the outside world to fulfill my inner world.

It didn't work.

What did work though was digging down deep and opening up my soul and heart to love, light and compassion.

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Throughout the process, I learned a lot, and still continue to, as we all do. But when I sat down to write what helped me become a healthier, happier, more peaceful version of myself, these 11 lessons stood out the most.

1. Don't internalize the negative.

We all have our own issues that we're working through, so it's good to remember that negativity from others toward you has absolutely nothing to do with you. It's simply the other person trying to work through his or her own stuff. Use it as an opportunity to stay grounded and centered in your own person and to show compassion and most importantly, to grow.

2. Learn to value your struggles.

We change, we grow, and we learn some of our most important lessons when we're challenged. They shape who we are and make us human. If everything were always hunky-dory, life would be pretty boring.

3. Get out in nature.

Nature connects your soul with the universe on a whole new level. We feel at peace, breathe fresh air, and move our bodies in nature. There's no other feeling like it. You open yourself up and realize there's something much bigger out there and that's both comforting and reassuring.

4. Find a type of movement you love, then do it regularly.

Our bodies aren't meant to be punished by exercise. Our bodies are meant to feel empowered by exercise. And we're meant to feel connected to our bodies (in a loving way) through movement. A client once told me, "If I had to tell my former self something, I'd ask her what she liked to do as a child. What activity brought her joy? Once I had the answer I'd go do way more of that. Movement is therapy for the soul, that is, if you like what you're doing."

5. Open your heart to others, and share how you truly feel.

Letting the people in your life know how you feel is so important. It's the only way a relationship (any relationship) can deepen, evolve and grow. You may feel vulnerable (and a little awkward at first), but your level of honesty will open your heart in a whole new way you haven't felt before. And not to sound corny, but the truth really does set you free.

6. Create healthy boundaries.

You can't fully show up for yourself and others when you feel like a doormat. And I promise (even though you may feel awkward at first), the people in your life who are meant to be there will understand.

7. Have a daily soul practice.

There's something so grounding in little daily actions that nurture your soul. Whether it's a walk, meditation, journal writing, envisioning, mantras, a morning call with your soul sister, setting an intention for the day, yoga, a gratitude journal, reading, or quiet time with a cup of tea, these small yet powerful actions help us savor the moment, feel centered, and give us kind, caring, compassionate souls, the "me time" we so crave.

8. Move forward from all the slights you remember.

Forgive others (that means yourself too), so you can move forward and become unstuck. Holding on to that painful energy can eat at you. Forgiveness doesn't mean you agree, but it means you're willing to accept what happened, learn what you needed to learn, and move forward.

9. Practice living for the moment.

Focus on doing the best you can with where you are (even if you don't like it) with what you have now. That's how you'll evolve into the most powerful you.

10. Recall the good when you feel like a failure.

When you feel like a failure, it's easy to label yourself "a failure." Recognize that this is just a feeling and it'll pass. And recall all the amazing things you've accomplished, contributed to, and made happen. Because you've done a lot! Quiet that inner voice, remember you've felt like this before, and carve out some "me time" to rebalance.

Keep in mind: struggles are tests along your journey, so you can use your tools (and acquire new ones) to see how much you've grown. And remember, you're never given more than you can handle.

11. Honor what your body is telling you.

There's something so amazingly simple yet profound that happens when you start listening to your body. Put down work and go to bed early because your body is aching for sleep. Or, decide to go on a restorative walk instead of an intense interval class because that's just what you needed that day. Open the waves to listening to what your body truly needs in the moment, and see how that nurturing decision opens your mind-body-soul connection.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


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