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Thursday, June 14, 2012
For years I’ve talked to people who have faced some of the worst tragedies imaginable. Sometimes their story is about health issues. Sometimes it is about abuse. And, of course, when someone endures a particularly difficulty time in their lives such as a divorce, bankruptcy, or job loss, although their challenges are not as dramatic, to them their situation still presents a significant obstacle to their happiness and well being.
What is interesting is what happens to people when they face such life changing difficulties. Clearly some cannot cope. The feel overwhelmed, defeated, and become mired in their victimhood. Their feelings of hopelessness seem to give them few options. When I think of this I cannot help but bring to mind my visits to the gas chamber in the Dachau Nazi concentration camp. There thousands of people obediently went to their deaths because they saw no other alternative – even though they clearly outnumbered their captors.
On the other hand, there are others who refuse to accept that they have any or few options. They too endure hardships. However, they clearly achieve a different result. Some find their will survive in their religious faith, some find strength in those who they love, and, unfortunately others find the power to go on from the depth of their hatred for those who caused their misfortune. Victor Frankl, the Jewish Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Dachau camp, said that when someone finds meaning in their life, they can overcome bad circumstances and become a entirely different person – hopefully for the better.
For all who endure tragedies, loss, and other misfortunes, they most definitely go through a life changing event. As I just pointed out, some collapse and others get through it by finding meaning. When I met those of the latter group, I cannot help but become greatly inspired. If they can survive such horrific incidents in their lives, who am I to complain about my personal misfortunes? Maybe we all need to start finding meaning in the occasional bad news that we receive. Then just possibly we can find out what lesson the “universe” is trying to teach us.
When someone finds such meaning, the next thing that seems to happen is that they find increased levels of strength within and locate other resources that they never considered. For instance, this asset discovery may lead to them to find talents that have been ignored. Also, this may lead them to open up to others and find that they are not alone. Yes, all of us have a much bigger support base than we ever thought possible.
One example of a person who endured hardship and then went on to change her life and inspire others is Athena Demetrios, who as a young child experienced poverty and rape. She is now an author and speaker who inspires others. On Friday, June 15, 2012, at 9 a.m. Central Time (US), I will interview Athena. She will share with us her story of survival and recovery. The interview will be broadcast on WDNG News Talk 14.50 in the local Anniston, Alabama are and internationally through the listen live link on the top of WDNG.net’s pages.
Keywords: Demetrios, survival, trauma, inspiration
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