There are many articles out there sharing sage advice and insights from generations of wisdom. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself what advice you would offer to your younger self? If you could have a brief chat with yourself five, ten or even twenty years ago, what do you think you would be able to offer in terms of knowledge?

So often people talk about telling their younger self to not sweat the small stuff. This is because we often worry about things that are out of our control and that never actually come to pass.

Another common anecdote of wise advice is to care less about what people think about you, because you cannot please everyone, especially when you follow your own path in life.

Other times people speak about telling their younger self to walk away from the job or relationship, especially when either of these are proving toxic or bound to come to a dead end. This raises the question, “How does one know when it is time to walk away?”

Constant emotional stress takes a toll on our health and happiness. It is a well-known fact that people who deal with elevated states of emotional stress consistently suffer from more health issues. These include muscle fatigue, irritability, constant tiredness, headaches, and more. If left unchecked, your emotional stress will leave you physically ill as well as emotionally tired. That is why many experts say that if you are emotionally drained more often than you are not, it is an indicator that enough is enough.

This is not to say that every difficult situation warrants walking away from. Sometimes situations come about as an opportunity to become better and wiser people. All situations teach us something: sometimes the lesson is to leave, and other times it is to repair. To know the difference, we need to be in a calm and centred place and we need to have confidence in ourselves.

Sometimes our stress makes situations seem worse than they actually are. Research shows that when we have higher stress levels, we misinterpret neutral comments from others as criticism, or see their behaviours in a more threatening, negative light. A huge part of our emotional well-being depends on tending to our nervous systems regularly to keep our stress levels moderated. When we regularly de-stress ourselves, it helps us to see things around us for what they are.

It is important to remember that our human brains are wired to see things negatively. This is known as the negativity bias of the brain. Our brains tend to put a negative spin on things. This is why it is so important to remember that just because our brains think something does not mean it is true.

The other key component to being able to effectively analyse the situation we find ourselves in, is our confidence levels. Confidence is self-trust in your skills, choices and values. It comes from within yourself and feels like an inner knowing of your strengths and weaknesses. We all generally have a strong sense of confidence as a child, but as life throws curve balls our confidence can diminish. Low self-confidence can feel like being unable to handle people’s criticism of you, or having difficulty trusting yourself.

Luckily, every day we are given multiple opportunities to build towards a strong sense of self. It takes small steps. Something as simple as the daily practice of placing your hand over your heart area in a gesture of love and care towards yourself can help. This will bring you into a place of truth and understanding towards yourself.

What is often observed is that when a person gains confidence in themselves, red flags are no longer red flags – they become deal breakers.

Another tool for being able to see the truth of whether you are in a toxic environment or simply in the midst of a tough lesson, is the creation of solid boundaries. These are the ground rules for yourself and your relationships. Confidence and knowing your own worth play a huge role in one’s ability to create and stick to your boundaries.

Perhaps you have your own personal truths to offer yourself when you were younger. Perhaps a review of what you have already learnt on the path of your life will show you that you know more than you think, and these wisdoms can very likely be helpful for your future self.

Kirsty Watermeyer