Sometimes We Teach What We Need To Learn

Sometimes it takes repeating the same messages to others for us to internalize them ourselves. See why sometimes we need to teach what we need to learn.

I’ve had this topic on my list for months now. What I usually do when planning out my content is review my master list of topics and the one that speaks to me that day is usually the one I’m meant to write. I’ll write ideas down whenever I have them, but sometimes by the time it comes to pick a topic, that one is not ready for the world yet.

I think it was actually over the summer when this idea came to me. I was in the middle of working on my marriage and dealing with an emotional state that finally found a name in a diagnosis of depression. I was writing this blog as I normally did, but I felt compelled to write posts that were focused on treating yourself well, embracing your imperfections, and ultimately emphasizing that at any time and any day, you are enough. I realized that as much as I wanted to convey those messages, they were also the ones that I had the hardest time internalizing.

You know how advice for others always comes easily, but when you turn it around on yourself you have a hard time following it? That’s how I felt writing those pieces. It’s like I knew that this is how I should be treating myself and the steps I should take to have a healthier life inside and out, but I couldn’t always follow along.

Subscribing to the adage that practice makes perfect, I learned that repeatedly focusing and writing on these subjects was slowly helping me get to a place of acceptance and self-love that I don’t think I would have gotten to as quickly if it weren’t for the need to show up and share my words with you (so THANK YOU).

I don’t think that I would have been able to write this post at that time because I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet. My appreciation and care for myself has increased tremendously in the last 6-8 months, but there are still certain life subjects that I need to revisit more than once in order to more fully internalize the message. Here are some examples:

1. Exercise

I chose to be a personal trainer and a fitness instructor both because I love the subject matter and because helping others and pushing them to achieve their best is something that resonates with me. Teaching classes is an incredible reminder of the power that each one of us has and that we can constantly grow and achieve new goals. I constantly repeat messages about working as hard as you can, learning to silence that negative voice, and that on any given day, you should be proud of the work you’re doing.

It’s not easy to add a regular exercise routine into an already busy adult life. It takes planning, dedication, and a desire to be better. Teaching students that come to a 5:15 am class is always an inspiring experience and both seeing those people and repeating those positive messages helps me realize why I choose to live the way I do.

2. Self-care

This has been incredibly important for me to prioritize and understand. I went through many years bending to the will of others and acting in caretaking roles, which ultimately left me lacking a sense of identity. I didn’t know what I liked or didn’t like and I didn’t realize that I was important enough to put first.

With as much as I run around during the day, it can be easy to forget to put myself first. Some days I like to schedule a little extra time between clients so I can do things like treat myself to a delicious coffee or donut (or both). I try and get all my blog work done during the day so that I can spend time with Neil or even just myself and a good book. With repeated practice, I’ve come to view self-care as a necessity and not something selfish.

Related: 10 Self-care Tips for When Life Gets Hard

3. Progress not perfection

This one still gets me. I struggle between being too hard on myself and absolving myself of all responsibility as I try to find that imperfect balance. Life is a journey and it’s about trying to do your best each day. If you fall short, you can always start again. Perfection is an unreachable goal, but since it was a concept so ingrained in my thinking, it takes repeated messages to the contrary for me to finally hear them.

The days that I know I don’t have to be perfect are AMAZING. The days when I forget are stressful and disappointing. I’m much quicker to forgive myself for mistakes I make, but it’s continually a process that I’m not perfect at conceptualizing (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?).

Related: The Importance of Learning to Critique Your Story

4. Learning my worth

By not prioritizing myself, I made it easy to let others take advantage of me. I didn’t set boundaries at work or at home, and I found myself resenting many people and places despite the results being due to my own actions. I settled for less compensation than I deserved and I was afraid to ask for what I wanted.

If anyone were to come and ask me about work-life boundaries or how much they should be charging for sponsored posts/social media campaigns, I would have no problem offering my advice. When I flip the script, I’m often less confident about my own decisions. I’ve gotten much better at the boundary issue, but I still struggle with asking to be appropriately compensated for my time and my work. Baby steps.

Related: 6 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Personal Growth

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.


  • Can you relate to any of these examples?
  • Do you have any of your own?


    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      That’s a tough one for me too. Always working on it.

  1. February 18, 2016 / 5:45 am

    It is the “those who can’t do, teach” idea but slightly different. Some people don’t know how to take their own advice. But I also think that, once you figure out what you need to learn, and actually learn it, that you are a better teacher because you know that matter from the inside out. But the key is to get beyond just preaching, and actually get to practicing.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Getting Intimate: Podcasts and My Colonoscopy ResultsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:12 pm

      Most definitely. Once I finally internalized the things I was saying it made me a much better person and even better at trying to help others internalize it too.

  2. February 18, 2016 / 6:26 am

    I can definitely relate to this. I recently started to teach yoga and I find that I am more of a relaxed, wind down the day and let go kind of teacher. In other words, right now I dont feel like I can teach more of a power yoga class. I find this is because I need that reminder to let go and relax. Everyone holds so much stress these days and I hope in my class that the students can let go a bit but it is also something I am reminding myself to do at the same time.
    Alicia recently posted…Disney World 2016 Day 2My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:13 pm

      I love it! That’s exactly what I was trying to convey.

  3. February 18, 2016 / 8:10 am

    I’m always working on #4. I feel like I’m in the same boat as you: I can give the right advice about a person’s value, and I totally believe it to be true, I just can’t apply it to myself. I also love the phrase “progress not perfection.” It’s such a good reminder of what matters.
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Costco Shopping Guide: Part SixMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:13 pm

      It’s such a good saying. Maybe we can negotiate each other’s values to other people

  4. February 18, 2016 / 8:22 am

    I completely understand this – in fact, most of my best writing (for myself and for others to read) is usually a result of some type of struggle/dark place.
    And the process usually opens my eyes up to something I needed to see all along.
    #4 is a big one for me. I’m all talk about OTHER people realizing their value but I have a hard time realizing mine. Especially since I always saw myself obtaining further education, working in a high-power field, etc.
    Thanks for sharing <3
    Catherine @ foodiecology recently posted…How Diets are Like Parenting (And Why You Should STFU About Both)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      Totally agree. I think my bar has been so low that now I have a hard time even realizing what a just value even is!

  5. February 18, 2016 / 8:42 am

    Oh absolutely, there’s a reason for that saying those who can’t do, teach. It’s one thing to know everything we should do but putting it into our own practice is tough. I struggle with that all the time.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #59My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      Why can’t it be easy????

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      Most definitely. When I knew nothing of self care is prob when I abused exercise the most

  6. February 18, 2016 / 9:02 am

    #3 is something I struggle with a lot, and I find that I tend to bounce back and forth between the extremes rather than find a nice comfy place in the middle. I’ll either work my ass off and be way too hard on myself, or just throw my hands in the air and give up on everything. It’s gotten better over the years, but definitely still something that needs work.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…new leggings, heart shaped pizzas, & a book i love (ToL#170)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      Me too. I’m very black and white in my thinking and I’m always trying to find that place in the middle.

  7. Paula
    February 18, 2016 / 9:59 am

    I just journaled something very similar to this post a couple weeks back. I’ve been contemplating a change in career the last year or two and recently had someone ask me if I ever thought about being a wellness coach. My first reaction was, “How can I possibly be a wellness coach when I’m still working on my own hangups??” But it’s so much easier to help other people along if you’ve made (or are still making) the journey yourself, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be able to look at a map and give someone directions using street names alone; it’s entirely another to be able to fill in the details with landmarks because you’ve made the drive yourself.

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      I love that example!

  8. February 18, 2016 / 10:09 am

    Yes, this is SO true. Often I’m writing something on the blog, because it’s what God is teaching me this week. I guess you could say that I know myself the best, and God knows me the very best, so He teaches me the lessons I really need to learn.
    Emily recently posted…How My Family Helped My RecoveryMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      Great perspective Emily!

  9. February 18, 2016 / 11:45 am

    I agree with this SO much! This it definitely something I struggle with. I think my biggest one is letting little things go – I always tell my husband and family and friends to just let small things go and not focus so much on them, but I’m ALWAYS focusing and stressing over the most silly things.
    Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood recently posted…Differences Between My First and Second PregnancyMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:21 pm

      Haha too funny. I always try and think about what I would tell someone else in my situation but it’s not always easy to follow that advice!

  10. February 18, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    #3 and #4 really resonated with things I’ve been dealing with lately! Perfectionism is something I’m naturally inclined to take way too far (even when I was a kid), and it’s a lifelong battle for me to be kind to myself. I’m also contemplating a job transition, and I had to REALLY step out of my comfort zone to negotiate compensation. Why have we been conditioned to feel so icky for just expecting what we are worth? I found that it wasn’t so hard once I was well-prepared, but knowing how to prepare isn’t easy. There is some good advice on the internet but it’s not applicable to every situation or industry.
    Sarah @ racingoprah recently posted…What’s the worst that could happen?My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      I usually sell myself short in that arena. I have some opportunities coming up and I’m going to have to put my big girl pants on. Eek.

  11. February 18, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    I agree…A lot of the time I can tell people what’s the best thing to eat but can’t ever seem to do it well myself!

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      We just have to keep trying I guess!

  12. February 18, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    “Know your self-worth” —> you know what I’m gonna say about that and the convo you’re about to have! YOU GO GIRL!

    Slow clap for you all around. Love you.
    Lauren @ i had a big lunch recently posted…No soup for youMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 18, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Haha thanks girl. And thanks for lunch. I’m still thinking about it. Mmmm cookies.

  13. February 18, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    SELF CARE. Erin, I have six kids, two of which are my step-kids, all within a blended family. My husband has bipolar disorder and has been in and out of hospital. My oldest son who is 15 has been in and out as well, for different reasons. And I? I have an anxiety disorder. Like, no shit.

    I will never forget the day that my dad said something that made me hate him for years. He said (condescendingly), “Oh leave it to Suzy to try and save the world.” I lost my relationship over that statement but eventually got it back, along with my spirit. Because the old fart was right.

    I can love well. Sure. I can live well, totally. But I can only go halfway, and then everyone else has to meet me there with their drawstrings taught and their fight faces on otherwise? I’m out. And when I show up to that drawing line, you better believe that I will be standing there all in, balls out. I will do whatever it takes to take care of Suzy so that she’s whole and healthy.

    Showering used to feel luxurious. Shaving my legs? Criminal. Now I take care of me, coconut oil and all while everyone else can fuck right off because they’ll thank me when they meet me halfway. <3
    Suzy recently posted…Before the FlushMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 21, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Sounds like you’ve got some good boundaries there. With all that you have going on, you HAVE to!

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 23, 2016 / 1:23 pm

      Totally true! Now that I’ve been doing it for awhile I realize how valuable it is and I’m not afraid to ask for what I’m worth. Recently I had the same thing happen when negotiating a social media role. I was like “I’m really good at what I do which is why this is my price!”

  14. Lexie
    April 1, 2016 / 7:01 am

    This post resonates with me as I am ending 25 years of caretaking family. I had to relearn my own value and give myself a new found much needed credit for finally putting myself first, recognition of my own needs and credit for learning boundaries after all these years of putting myself last. Great post

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 1, 2016 / 8:23 am

      Thanks Lexie! I love that you’re taking the time to figure out what you need and want. You’re the most important person in your life!

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