Over the years, the Game of Thrones has provided us with a multitude of lessons, almost sculpting the way we view televisions. character development, plot lines, and even how we make decisions in our every day lives. The following are 10 essential life lessons to learn from Game of Thrones:
1. Learn to expect the unexpected from the people around you.
Among the 10 lessons to learn from Game of Thrones, this one is one of the most important and most common lessons that we all will face at some point throughout our lives. Truth be told, I shed a tear or ten during the ‘Red Wedding’ and ‘Mother’s Mercy’ episodes. Both episodes portrayed our beloved characters allowing themselves to be blindsided and subsequently killed due to misplaced love and trust. People’s objectives and motivations change during their lives and sometimes their only concern becomes self-preservation. The sooner you learn that no one owes you a lifetime of loyalty, the better. It’s up to you to watch your back and in the words of an old friend “cover your a**”.
2. Recognize a toxic relationship when you see one.
Often times, out of love or whatever reasoning we convince our self to stand by, we ignore obvious red flags that indicate that a relationship is not good for us. Much like Jaime Lannister with Cersei, we look past toxic personality flaws, choosing to see and believe in the best in the person we love. The best thing you can do in this situation is to identify those flaws and to express your concerns. If the person refuses to change after you’ve brought your feelings to their attention, leave. Plain and simple. Never compromise your physical, mental and/or emotional safety in the name of love.
3. It’s never too late to do the right thing.
We all know that Theon Greyjoy was an A-grade a**hole. However, he was no Ramsey Bolton. While he had his flaws, in the end, he chose to do right by the Stark family. Regardless of what you’ve done and who you’ve hurt, it’s never too late to try and make amends. A genuine apology can go a long way. Your “sins” may not be forgiven by your victims but you’ve made the first step to redemption.
4. No man is an island.
Sometimes life sucks – we get hurt by people we love dearly. People who we would’ve never expected to do us the way they did. As a result of that, we close ourselves off to the idea of getting close to other people. We like to believe that we can be an island but the truth is that as strong as we believe ourselves to be, every person needs a support system when their back is against the wall.
5. Recognize your own strength and potential.
Daenerys Targaryen started with all the odds against her; a father with the disreputable title as the “Mad King” and a brother content with whoring her out to get the iron throne back from his enemies. Even after losing the love of her life and her only child, she didn’t let her sorrows consume her. With her baby dragons by her side, she set out on a mission to re-conquer the seven kingdoms that had betrayed her family and stolen her birthright. She wanted things to change and she made it happen – Dany didn’t sit around waiting for power to return to her. She set out on a mission and did the damn thing.
6. As Ygritte said, you know nothing.
“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be a great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success” – Dwayne Johnson. Never let your ego cost you an opportunity to see how the world and the people in it work. Just like Jon Snow or, SPOILER ALERT, Aegon Targaryen, seemed to think he had it all figured out, sometimes we think we have it all figured out. Like him, just like me, you know nothing. The world is vast and everyone’s experience is different. There is always a different perspective to learn about something we thought we already knew.
7. Family can be toxic too.
Besides the Targaryens and their dragon drama, the Lannisters have THE most toxic family dynamic in the seven kingdoms. Blood may be thicker than water but sometimes the family you choose treats you ten times better than the family you were born into. Never let something as trivial as a biological relationship cause you to risk your peace of mind. If someone is a threat to your peace, cut them off. PERIODT.
8. Ignore the naysayers, haters, rumors, and bad minds.
Ten times out of ten, owning your truth means that no one can ever use it against you. Take the bastard and the dwarf as an example. Both Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister were given labels that they had no control over. Tyrion understood that people will always try and use your perceived weaknesses against you. He could’ve let both himself and Jon Snow wallow in self-pity over the cards that life dealt them. Instead, they both rose to the occasion and became two of the most influential people in the seven kingdoms.
9. Never be afraid to choose your own path.
Some people have their entire life planned out for them. Who they’ll marry, where they’ll go to school, and what career path they’ll follow. Samwell Tarly, seen as the disgrace of his father’s house, was sent off the wall to ‘Take the Black’. Samwell was no fighter and he accepted that swordsmanship was not his strength but his greatest weakness. Instead of staying in a situation that made him miserable, he listened to his heart and his love for words and poetry and books. Without abandoning the oath he pledged, he found a way to do what he loved without risking his honor. Your path may be paved out for you but that doesn’ mean you have to follow it. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your happiness and your dreams to become something that someone else wants you to be. Take the risk. Follow your dreams. Choose your own path.
10. Sometimes harsh experiences are the best teachers.
Arya and Sansa Stark experienced traumas that no person should ever have to endure. However, those experiences made them the powerful young women that they are today. Sometimes you need to look beyond your personal tragedy and find the light in the situation. Whether it be motivation, truth or closure. Lessons can be learned in the most unexpected moments. All it takes to see the silver lining is canceling the pity party we decide to throw ourselves.
Long after episodes stop airing on HBO, these 10 lessons to learn from Game of Thrones will guide us as we live our very best lives. Our beloved Westerosee characters would not have made it this far if they didn’t take their own advice.