Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way ~ Victor Frankl, holocaust survivor.
I listened to a South African woman talk on the radio yesterday. This woman, referred to only as ‘Alison’, had survived an horrific attack in 1994. Raped, beaten, stabbed 35 times, Alison was left for dead (you can access the podcast here.)
One of the things that pulled Alison through the sea of depression that she found herself in following the attack, was the recognition that she had a choice. She could ultimately choose whether that event would change her negatively or positively.
It amazes me that people in the most dire of circumstances, people who have gone through far more than most of us ever will, can make a decision to not let that event/trauma rule the rest of their lives.
As Victor Frankl is renowned for saying, nobody can take away your power to choose your attitude. That is something that is entirely within your control. Obviously, there are circumstances in which it is harder to do this but I just have to think about Victor Frankl or ‘Alison’ to know that it can be done regardless of the severity of the event.
If people like Victor Frankl and ‘Alison’ can make a positive choice even in their circumstances, surely I can, too, in my little day to day troubles. For me, the effect of reflecting on their lives, has two outcomes. One: it makes me realise that we all have that ability, just like they did; and two: my ‘problems’ on the grand scale of things, aren’t actually that big.
So, changing my perspective, can also help me make the choice to change my attitude.
The older I get, the more people I know who have gone through significant, life changing events. And for the most part, I am inspired and challenged by the way they have handled their circumstances. Does simply choosing to have a healthy attitude make the problems go away or make them any easier to deal with? No, it doesn’t. What it does do is lay the foundations for a better future beyond that current circumstance.
Today, my first choice is to keep in mind Victor, Alison and all my friends who have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and situations, and to choose my own way, instead of being at the mercy of my circumstances.
What will you choose to do today? Will you choose your own way?