Ep. 159 Lessons Learned & How We Made It Through 2020

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In this episode, I discuss:

  • Hear Sarah’s top five lessons of 2020
  • Powerful stories about resilience and patience
  • Explore the importance of community and connection
  • A very special gift for The Uncensored Empath listeners

Additional Resources:

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Uncensored Empath, a place for us to discuss highly sensitive energy, illness, healing, and transformation. My name is Sarah Small, and I’m a life and success coach for empaths, who want to create a thriving body, business and life. Think of this podcast as your no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship. You’ll get straight to the point totally holistic tips from me in real-time, as I navigate this healing and growth journey right beside you. This is a Soul Fire production.

Holy molly, I got this notification on my phone from an app I use called, The Pattern. It indicated that it was a really good time to reflect on some of these lessons from the past year, and to also decide what are you going to carry with you and what is it time to let go of? And just within all of the global upheaval and change, when you pause and you stop to think and reflect, what have you learned? What has this year taught us? How has this year changed us, maybe at the very core level and who do we want to be moving forward? So I asked all of you the same question that this app asked me. And I reflected on it and I gathered up some of your reflections as well. And to wrap this year 2020, I am going to share some of those lessons and some untold stories from my personal life.

Honestly, I went through and this list was quickly at 10 and then it grew to like 15. And then I decided I would just peal back and share some of the highlights of what I’ve learned because honestly, there’s way more than what there’s time for today. And I want to make sure that at the end, we have some time to go over some of your reflections as well because honestly, they’re really amazing. And you’ve all shared with me how much you’ve learned over the last 12 months as well.

Hear Sarah’s top five lessons of 2020

So I’m just going to dive right in and start sharing some of these lessons that have come up in my life. The first one is that sometimes patience is not necessary. Sometimes there is a time to speed things up and speed up the timeline of something, but oftentimes in the space of the unknown, embracing what you can’t control and leading into trust and patience is the most healing thing you can do for yourself.

Powerful stories about resilience and patience

So yes, sometimes there’s a time to push a little to speed up a timeline, but when there’s this giant void of the unknown and we can’t speed things up, or we can’t control, or we don’t have the friggin’ answers leaning into trust and patience, really saves us a lot of often unnecessary stress, heartache and so forth. As you know, and I’ve shared on the show earlier this year, I experienced a pregnancy loss and there was no way to speed up that loss. I had to take a drug, methotrexate, and I just had to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait until that drug finally kicked in to induce miscarriage because it was a tubal pregnancy and the baby was not going to form correctly in my fallopian tube. I had no control. I couldn’t speed it up. There was literally nothing. So I leaned into that process.

I let my body take its time and it took its time. But in surrendering, I did my best to stop stressing over a timeline that I couldn’t change, as heartbreaking as that was. And this is something I never talked about on the show before, but for the last year and a half, there has been a pretty massive uncertainty around some really big moves, me and my little family over here may be making. And literally, any day we could get the news that would change a lot of things in our life, including where we live. So for a long time, because this has been going on for a year and a half, not just 2020, that meant for me, not really putting the time, love, and energy into this home to make it exactly how I wanted it to be. It meant anxiety. It meant for me, based on just some childhood stuff in my past, not feeling safe, never really feeling grounded until eventually, I just surrendered.

I had so many conversations about this with my therapist to see around this unknown of home and where are we going to be and what is our life going to be? And I just want to know. And instead, I just let myself start to build more of this home, especially being pregnant. Now, again, we’re getting the baby’s nursery ready, regardless if that’s the nursery, we’re going to bring the baby home to or not. So I’ve let myself build this home and trust that eventually we are going to get more information. And then, we can course-correct and we can take action at that point. Plus home, I don’t know if you guys resonate with this. Home and just our space, our living space right now feels so fucking important. Making a home, however big or small somewhere where you can live in all these different aspects of your life, whether it’s work, kids, making food, dinner, love, intimacy, self-care time, whatever it is, I’m here all the time.

I really haven’t been going anywhere except for appointments. Even my groceries have been delivered. So home feels so important and I was avoiding it. And when I finally decided to just embrace that lack of control and lean into trust, my home actually feels way better. And I haven’t changed too much. And over a month ago, we got news that the genetic screening for this current pregnancy came back abnormal. And I’ve kind of been hinting at this on social media, but haven’t really shared any of it publicly, because it’s honestly been a lot, a lot, a lot to process. And what happened was we got a call about the sex of our baby and informing us of it. And then, also letting us know everything was fine and low risk. And literally, the next day, we got a call back that in fact it was abnormal and they couldn’t confirm several things, but it was just a screening.

So not a diagnostic test and they couldn’t tell me anything else. It could mean this, it could mean that. I literally had this giant spectrum of what that could potentially mean. And I had no idea what it actually was. No one knew exactly what it was. So we had days of waiting before we could talk to these multiple genetic counselors that we’ve spoken with, then weeks of waiting until we can be seen by genetic specialists. And then more weeks of waiting on the diagnostic results, which we’re still waiting on. And I could have spent the last month plus thinking about worst-case scenarios with the health of this child, I could have had frantic stressful thoughts. And instead, I’m just surrendering to the length of this process. And it’s making me emotional right now, because it has been really intense. I had to go in for an amniocentesis, which is where they take a needle and stick it through your abdomen, into the amniotic fluid to draw out the baby’s DNA.

Really, it’s just the skin cells and the amniotic fluid that they use to test. And it’s been a fucking lot! But I kept reminding myself that if I keep just having these worst-case scenarios, thoughts, and I’m stressing the fuck out, how does that change anything? Whatever it is, it’s there already. I can’t change it. So I’ve surrendered to the length of the process, the outcome of the process. And I’ve decided very consciously and intentionally, decided that I’m just going to send this baby unconditional love. I’m going to practice patience and trust that she’s going to be okay and have a good quality of life regardless. And she can hear me now. She can hear my voice. So I want to be conscious and intentional with even the words or the energy behind the words that I’m using. Sometimes patients, screw it, they’re out the door, speed up the timeline, get shit done, go, go, go alter things. But in the space of the unknown embracing what you can’t control and leaning into trust and patience is the most healing thing that you can do for yourself. That is one thing I’ve learned this year.

Community and connection

The second thing is that humans are not meant to go it alone. Humans at a basic, basic level, want to be seen, heard and understood. They want to be loved. They want to feel love, experience love. And in fact, when you are supported in your healing process, you feel safer, more trusting. You’re more able to relax so that the body can actually go do its work and you can actually heal. There is plenty of research and science behind this. It’s fascinating. Part of the research also shows that loneliness can trigger a threat response, a flight/freeze stress, and threat response that can make you sicker than cigarettes.

And on the flip side, studies in communities where it’s a tight-knit community, have shown that people who are part of that tight-knit community have longer lives. It’s fascinating. My inner nerd loves this research and being able to understand that and share with you that we’re not meant to go it alone. Yet, here we are in a year, that feels very isolating for all of us and I’m not bringing up anything political right now. I’m just simply stating the fact that many of us have been isolated this year. And likely, it’s had effects on our health, either our physical health, our mental well-being, the feeling of being connected or not to other people in the world. And my honest truth is that I thought as an I.N.F.J. on the Myers-Briggs test, and an introverted empath, who hates big crowds to begin with, but I would fare pretty damn well.

I’ve also already been working from home for eight years. Yet, I felt lonely. I miss the feeling of being with friends and family. It’s hard to have gone through the loss of a baby without anyone to grieve with. It’s hard to be in this pregnancy without anyone to see my belly growing. I miss my friends and my family. I miss hearing people laugh in person. I miss looking people in their actual eyes, I’m as sharing meals together. And since I was young, my family has had this tradition with my mom, of every time we would sit down, it’d be us, four kids. And usually, we had boyfriends and girlfriends with us, because whoever we dating also became part of the family pretty quickly. And we would sit down to eat. Usually, my mom cooked and we would always do. And we still do, honestly, we still do this, but it started when I was young, the worst and best thing that happened that day.

And everyone would go around to the worst thing that happened today, is this. The best thing that happened today is this. And I have actually no fucking idea when that started or how we started it, but it just did, that stuck. And we bring everyone in on it. And it’s a sense of connection and sharing what’s on your heart. So, because the normal ways of connecting are not always possible, have not been very possible this year. My lesson has been in creating or finding community in other ways. The Empath Leaders Membership is a community that I created for that. And actually, I’ve been reflecting on this and I think that the sense of connection and belonging within the group has evolved much faster, into the sense of a little family, than it would have otherwise. Because people are depending on these other ways of getting connection, and not feeling isolated than they would normally be.

I also joined a Yogi Mama’s book club and a prenatal yoga moms group on Saturdays. They’re all virtual. And two of my business besties and I, have been having regular FaceTime calls. We aren’t meant to go it alone. Not only has that been in my face and emphasized. And what an effect this has had on my emotional, physical, spiritual well-being, but it’s also something that I’ve learned that I have to consciously create. When the world flips upside down, we have to get creative in order to fulfill some of those needs, so that we don’t feel isolated. Humans at a basic level, want to be seen, heard and understood. And so, in this year, my lesson has simply been to reach out to either ask for help, to create community, to find community, so that that need doesn’t go on fulfilled.

Critical thinking

The third thing is critical thinking. Critical thinking is key regardless of what I was taught or what you were taught, regardless of what our family says is right or wrong, regardless of what the news portrays, regardless of what your Facebook feed has curated for you, regardless of what articles you’ve read or they report online, we’re all biased in some way. I even took some tests this year from Harvard. There are these tests you can take on inherit biases and it helped me understand that we are all biased in some way. And some of the sources I mentioned like your family or the news, they have an agenda. And so, it’s up to us to use our critical thinking, our minds. Use our brains to seek truth to possibly discover more than one truth. To empathize with the other belief systems. To see then that there’s maybe one more than one possibility. To ask good questions and make the best decisions.

And it’s the questions that I wasn’t asking that have made the biggest changes and revelations, and clicking aha moments for me this year. I’ve been in this six-month course on using your Enneagram type to do anti-racism work. And my biggest moments of growth have been when I asked a question of myself that I had never considered before. So our teacher, the guide presents this question. I asked myself this question that I had literally never considered before. And it is in those moments where that critical thinking has been clicked on after sometimes getting a little fucking lazy. It’s not okay. I think we’ve all been there, but I just don’t feel it’s okay anymore. It never was. And so, again, regardless of what we’re fed, as far as information, it’s up to us to use our critical minds and to seek the truth in the beauty and the divine answers in the world. Also, knowing that there’s probably more than one right answer or possibility. So I’ve really turned that switch, that knob all the way up this year, and started to use more of that critical thinking.

Coming to you with a brief interruption and really, really exciting news. You will not hear about this or read about this anywhere else, except for the podcast. And it’s very time-sensitive. So it’s also for you dedicated podcast listeners between the dates of December 14th, 2020, and December 31st, 2020. If you were listening during that time, I want you to send me an email. It’s sarah@theuncensoredempath.com. If you would like to join us, this is my gift to you for one free month of the Empath Leaders membership. There are no strings attached. If you want to stay, you can certainly stay. I hope you do, because I think you’re going to love it. But if you just need to come in and get a month of support, that’s okay as well. Inside of this group, we have these amazing souls who are doing the inner work, who are peeling back the layers of themselves so that they can show up to the world in a more alive, authentic, empowered way to share their message, go take action on their mission.

And while everyone’s working on something different in their life, it is such an incredible community that has turned into family. We have weekly calls. There’s an accountability call that my team hosts, we have support threads. My favorite is the monthly breathwork. We have healing sessions. There are coaching sessions with me. You can also do one-on-one sessions with some of my healing guides that I’ve brought to you inside of the group, who are illuminated students and have been trained by me personally. This group is freaking incredible and it’s my gift to you. The end of this really wild and crazy year, to just come get some support. So if you’d like to take me up on that offer between now and December 31st, 2020, just email me sarah@theuncensoredimpact.com. And I’d love to get you inside.

Getting into your body

The fourth thing I want to share with you is that even in the darkest moments, when getting into my body has felt most uncomfortable, there’s still healing there. It’s in those moments that I find the light. I feel I dissociated from my body for three months. I was in so much pain throughout my first trimester. And one of my best friends is pregnant now, too. And she was, what do you eat during your first trimester? Everything sounds horrible right now. And I couldn’t remember. This was like two months ago and I realized that I just blacked a lot of it out and I knew I was doing it. I knew I was doing it. I had just hired a business coach in August. That was the month I got pregnant, who ended up basically being a second therapist for me, because I wasn’t taking action on anything during that time. And I just cried to her that I couldn’t stay in my body long enough to meditate, or move, or breath. See, I knew. I knew I wasn’t in my body and I cried about it. I cried. I can’t be in my body. It’s so uncomfortable to be in my body and anything that would help me feel more, I avoided because I was already feeling so much and I didn’t like it. And I think my ego is trying to protect me because when I finally sat down to just literally stretch and breathe, my body got full tingles, full-body tingles. It was like I had come back home after going on a little vacation for several months.

And all I had to do was get back into my body, feel my body, breathe into my body, stretch my arms over my head, slow the fuck down. Get out of my head, into my body, I finally felt at a home inside of her again. I found the light, the lighthouse. I found my way back. I began to see the lessons. I stopped the train of negative thoughts and self-pity, and I realized how much I was growing and how many lessons were actually present when I slowed down enough in that dark, dark moment. You just have to slow down just enough, not completely, but just enough to get into your body because there is healing. There is light there. And so, as I slowed down enough to feel that light and gather up the lessons, the dark didn’t feel so dark anymore.

Now, I know you’re not all pregnant, but I hope you can see how, even in your darkest moments this year, or maybe you’re feeling that right now, that when you pause to get into your body, to breathe into it, to stretch into it, to move into it, even when you don’t want to, that there is healing there, that you will find a little twinkle of light there. And I’ve had to find my way back to that this year, because, for a long time, again, my ego is protecting me. I was trying to unconsciously, that process was trying to protect and keep me safe in a way that I dissociated from my body. I did not want to be in it. And while the body thinks it’s protecting you in those moments. Thinks it’s protecting you in those moments, there’s not actually a benefit that comes from that.

So I feel like I’ve just arrived back home. And it’s interesting because, because I’m pregnant, arriving back home feels different. It’s like there’s a different color paint on the walls or something. It’s not totally the same because I’m sharing this body with another soul right now, but there’s still that light to be found when you slow down and you get embodied.


All right. Number five, resilience. Does it mean that you break down? It’s that you get back up again, and again, and again, resilience does not mean that you never crack, that you never fall, that you never cry, that it is never hard, it is that when it’s all of those things, and not always immediately, but you get it back up. I shared about this recently on my Instagram as well, where I feel like I’ve been strong many times in my life. And this warrior mentality has taken over, but it’s been at the expense of my emotional needs.

I know I can push through things. I know I can dissociate from my body when the pain is too intense, but if I push through them so hard that I never feel anything, is that really what we call strength? And that push is not what I strive for it. Instead, I prefer the energy of resilience. And I shared this story, I’m just going to read briefly to you, on Instagram, about the morning of the procedure I recently had.

“This morning, I laid on the procedure table with my pants, rolled down, pregnant belly exposed, and arms over my head. With three women surrounding me and my husband holding my hand behind me. I took a long, deep breath and stared at the ultrasound monitor to see the long thin needle puncturing through my skin and eventually into the amniotic sack, the home of my baby. I felt an all-consuming feeling of we’ve got this. I’m going to protect you little baby. Don’t worry, they won’t disrupt your wiggly playtime for long.”

And I began to cramp up and I just kept breathing in and out, in and out, and repeating to myself inside my mind, “We’ve got this, we’ve got this, we’ve got this, we’re in this together. We’ve got this.” And I kept myself present in that moment. And as the procedure wrapped up, I asked the questions I wanted to ask, to gather all the information I could from the doctor, and the sonographer, and the other assistant that was in there. And then my husband and I walked to the car and I felt my eyes well up. And my husband said, okay, who do you want to call first? Because we’ve been calling our parents after a lot of these appointments. And I just responded to him, I need time. Give me time, I need to process. And I let myself just fall into the tears, the relief, the worry, the stress, the knowing that I was just about to step into another long period of waiting. And I just let myself feel all of it. And I felt like a strong mother in that room, but it wasn’t at the expense of feeling the very real fear of what was going on.

And so, in this post, I wrote:

Resilience was letting the emotions release, and then continuing to move forward one step at a time.

And in this process of resilience has been immense grief. And as I’ve learned, as over the last five years, both my brothers have died, my grandmother has died, and we’ve lost a baby. And I’ve learned to grieve, is to really live. And I also, recently, heard a theory that the more resistant we are to grieve the dead, the more resistant we are to give praise to the living. It is from Author Martin Pretzel. He writes, “In modern society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone, and without the support of community. Yet, grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country, or home we have lost is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise because it is the natural way love honors, what it misses.”

And so part of my resilience has not only just been getting back up after feeling the feelings, and moving forward one step at a time. It has also been letting myself grieve. And so, this year I’ve grieved, I’ve trusted the process. I’ve surrounded myself with people in whatever way I can. I’ve used my brain to activate discernment. I’ve found healing in the darkest moments, which is also where I’ve reconnected to myself. And I’ve got back up again, and again, and again. And while I could go on, and on, and on was so many more lessons of the last 12 months, I’m going to wrap it up there because I want to share some of the beautiful messages that this community has shared as well. Around what you’ve learned in the upheaval and change and transformation and fluctuation. And a lot of the unknown, of this year.

Vanita wrote to us and she said, “Ive been slowly learning how to be authentically me.” Which I think is so beautiful.

Kate’s lesson is that, “New, good things always begin, even in shadows and pain.” Hell yes.

Carissa writes, “Taking care of my whole well-being is a non-negotiable, and often includes periods of rest and reflection.” Amen. Lindsey, “That everyone has their own truth they believe wholeheartedly. Does it make your truth wrong and theirs right? Its just where they are in their belief system of things. Also, when we detach from having to be right, we can really zoom out and see the bigger picture, and supporting one another exactly where we are on our journeys without any judgment. Also, even in the shadows, theres still light. That is how the shadow is created in the first place.” Beautiful.

Sadie. “Ive learned that the universe speaks to you daily. And if you do not remove yourself from a situation that isnt good for you, then the universe will create a storm so uncomfortable, that you no longer have a choice, but to leave and switch directions.” Have I felt that before? Yes!

Laura, “At my core, I know whats best for me. And if I move in alignment with that, I can trust and know what should happen, will.

Lauren, “Just when you think youve come a long way in inner work/healing, energetic boundaries, the universe still presents you with new and different opportunities for growth. The work seems ongoing, cyclical in new and profound ways.” Yes. There’s always more layers to peel back.

Lisa, “Letting go isnt easy, but its worth it.

Toria, “What is, and who is important? Life is short and so precious. Re-evaluate your priorities, be it with work, study friends or family, et cetera. Whats important? Whats really important?” Hmm. That’s such a good question too.

Sandy, “Ive been learning that control is all an illusion after many, many ego deaths. And have been finally allowing myself to go with the flow and to figure out this elusive surrenderwhat it really means now. My anxiety is basically healed at this point, which is incredible. Lots of shadow work this year from energy healing and Iowasca.” So powerful.

I think I’m saying this correctly, Akvilla, “I like to be home, more than I realized.” I love that realization.

I’m going to have to wrap this up with Holly’s, which I think is a beautiful, beautiful learning that I deeply resonate with as well. “Divine love, aka, God, is the only infinite, unchanging truth.” So good.

So as I was reflecting on this and trying to pick which of my lessons I was going to share with you, I was also reminded of a short passage from my brother Jordan’s journal. He wrote this in India, in the Himalayan mountains on April 24th, 2014. And I actually have the very last line tattooed on my arm now. It just stood out so powerfully to me, and it’s so meaningful to me as we wrap up this year and invite you to trust the process. He writes:

I feel centered. All the tumbles have aligned in me, which allows me to be open. The energy of the world can flow through me. I am listening. I am more receptive. Everything is more obvious. I dont know where Ill be going, but I trust the forward movement. I trust the process.

And with that, all of you, Uncensored Empath podcasts listeners, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Not only for tuning into this episode, but all the support and love, that I’ve received from you over the last several months and really, this entire year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope you have the best or best of the year, and I can’t wait to reconnect with you in 2021.

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December 17, 2020


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