Michael Feeley on his story of growth.
Life can be harsh, even horrible but the choices you make about how you’ll live your life are crucial. Either you’ll choose to live as a hero — someone who perseveres; moving forward through any physical and mental tests or you’ll live as a victim — blaming the world for your troubles.
Certainly there are real victims who have no control over their circumstances. Victims of war, earthquakes, unfortunate people born into extreme poverty.
But what makes someone rise above their pain, tireless working to overcome their suffering and then they use what they’ve learned to be kind and helpful to their fellow man?
What makes them survivors, caretakers, champions, givers, warriors, heroes — often quiet, unnoticed leaders in their quest to live a good life and have others benefit?
Author and teacher Don Miguel Ruiz gives this answer: “The difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses and the warrior reframes.”
What’s your story?
When I was seven years old I was hospitalized for months with a life-threatening illness but all I could think about was getting home to my family. I wanted my life back and I wouldn’t give up. I had a powerful desire to live even with all my pain and fear.
Coming out of the hospital I had to learn to walk again, I was restricted from sports and on a special diet. Yes. I felt like a victim often asking ‘why me!?’ But my desire to get through this was enormous. I made a choice to change what I endured; consciously working to heal my heart and all my physical and emotional challenges. I found strength I didn’t know I had.
Every person we know and admire has a story and we love them because of their saga…the ‘hero’s saga’…to passionately overcome hardships, to better themselves and give to others.
Here are four of my personal heroes who chose not to be victims of their own circumstances:
- Helen Keller – “Once I knew only darkness and stillness…my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”
- Nelson Mandela – “I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”
- Christopher Reeve – “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
- Viktor Frankl – “Everything can be taken from a man 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.”
Choose a Hero: We emulate friends, authors, celebrities, politicians, artists…all kinds of people we see as heroes. Who comes to your mind and why? What have they done that moves you, raises you right up with determination to do better? Who inspires you to grow and improve? Who gives you courage? Who empowers you to reach out and give back?
Please, use them to be who you want to be and live as a hero! Put yourself in power no matter how overwhelming things may be. Make your choice and you’ll find your way.
This article originally appeared on Maria Shriver.
Photo: Getty Images