We always have the freedom to choose hope and resilience. Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor, said, “The last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” We always have the option to choose hope. But, how do we do that? How do you choose hope when there doesn’t seem to be any hope around? Resilience is the key to overcoming hopelessness.
Someone once asked me how I learned to be resilient, in spite of my past. How do I find hope in the future when my past was so bleak? The answer is so very simple and yet so difficult to do. To move through each phase of resilience, healing, and ultimately reach our own victory, we must start by changing our thoughts. Our thoughts will determine our feelings, and our feelings start to determine what we do, what we say, and where we end up. To change my thoughts, I had to change the way I was thinking and what I was thinking. I started to do this by reading books and listening to audios that were focused on thinking positive and how positivity can affect you overall. It sounds so simple that some of you are reading this and thinking “That’s silly – that won’t help.” But, it will help. It helped me learn to overcome hopelessness, years of abuse, shame and guilt.
“Our emotional life is profoundly regulated by our thought life.” Norman Vincent Peale
It’s not that I have ever really been a negative person. Far from it, I’ve always known on some level keeping a positive outlook and attitude was the only way to be effective in living life and overcoming negativity. I have always tried to identify what I have to be thankful for, rather than reacting to what I have to be bitter about.
It’s not that I’ve ever let myself stay negative for long, but when I became more intentional about positive thoughts, attitude, and intentional personal growth, I discovered what it means to really be resilient and overcome hopelessness. Once you discover a new way of thinking, you can’t go back and un-think it!
You’ve heard it before – “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” When I learned to start changing my thoughts on purpose by focusing on controlling them, rather than letting them control me, I rapidly realized which thoughts didn’t serve me well.
It’s much like realizing you can affect your health by putting good food into your body instead of junk food. If you put good materials into your mind, you can affect your emotional health in much the same way.
There is no reason to spend energy in wishing life was easier than it is. We all have a story to tell – a story of pain, tough times, or scars from the past. To be resilient, I had to learn to change my thoughts about my story. I could spend the rest of my life fantasizing that my parents had been the parents I wish they had been, that my father hadn’t taken advantage of my innocence and youth, and that my mother hadn’t stayed with him. But, I had to accept reality and move on, just like we all do at some point if we want to find hope. Spending my life looking back and thinking “if only,” wasn’t ever going to help me have a better future. Spending my life looking forward and thinking “I have so much to be grateful for,” will always help me have a better today, and a better future tomorrow. In the words of Nick Vujicic, “If you don’t get a miracle, become one for someone else.”
I didn’t get a miracle. Or, maybe I did. Maybe my miracle is the opportunity to become one for someone else. Every single day I hear from someone, men and women, how my story and books have changed their life for the better. And, to me – that’s a miracle.
Like many, resilience and leadership author Ria Story faced adversity in life. She was sexually abused by her father from age 12 – 19. Forced to play the role of a wife and even shared with other men due to her father’s perversions, she was desperate to escape and left home at 19 without a job, car, or even a high school diploma.
Unlike many, she learned to be resilient, and turned her life around, not only surviving but thriving, in spite of the overwhelming circumstances of her youth. Click here to order Ria’s new book, Beyond Bound and Broken today!