“Some of us have had terrible atrocities devastate our lives, and physically we may not have had the opportunity to escape a situation, but we do have power over our thoughts; we can choose to think differently about our misfortune. It is an attitude adjustment that requires effort—we use our free will to change our state of mind. Although it may be difficult to find a way to cope and endure trauma while directly in the midst of experiencing it, we need to know that when the danger has passed, we can make a choice to move through it instead of holding onto the feelings and pains associated with those events long after they have happened. We can choose to let the past go and thrive in the present, rather than just survive.”
“I don’t know how anybody could do that,” Eve said.
“It’s more common than you might think. We are all capable of overcoming hardship. Some people can endure horrific tragedies, yet they come through them stronger, with a powerful sense of purpose—Nelson Mandela is a compelling example. After engaging in anti-apartheid activities in South Africa, Mandela was convicted and sentenced to a life in prison. For twenty-seven years, he toiled in hard physical labour. But during his imprisonment, he gained worldwide support for his firm stance against racial discrimination and was subsequently released. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and was eventually elected the first black president of South Africa!
“He could have stewed and lamented his fate while he laboured in the lime quarries, but he chose instead to focus on his goal of a multi-racial democracy. He chose not to let his circumstances defeat him!
“People like Mandela take the very difficult circumstances of their lives and choose to think of them as catalysts for change, finding empowerment, strength and courage as they conquer and overcome their adversities. Others do not.
“What makes those who triumph over obstacles so different from those who don’t? Nothing. They simply made a choice that they would not allow that negativity to dominate their lives.
“This may seem like an insensitive thing to say to all those who are struggling and suffering in their lives. But if you tried to look instead at the hope in that statement, you would see that anyone, regardless of how stuck in the mud they feel they are, no matter how low or how hurt they are, can find their way out of pain, because if one person can overcome hardship and adversity, then it’s possible for others to follow. And the path to that salvation is choice.”