4 TRUE STORIES OF HEARTBREAK AND RESILIENCE THAT WILL MAKE YOU THINK
By Angel Chernoff
As you know, one of the most important moments in life is when you finally find the courage and determination to let go of what can’t be changed. Because when you are no longer able to change a situation, you are challenged to change yourself — to grow beyond the unchangeable. And that changes everything.
Over the past 10 years, Marc and I have worked with hundreds of incredible people who have done just that. We sit with them every year during live on-stage coaching sessions at our annual Think Better, Live Better conference. In many cases they came to the live event feeling stuck and lost, unaware of their own brilliance, blind to the fact that their struggles have strengthened them and given them a resilient upper hand in this crazy world. Honestly, many of these people are now our biggest heroes. They have easily given us as much as, if not more than, we have given them. And they continue to be one of our greatest sources of inspiration.
So today, to honor these unlikely heroes of ours, we want to share some of their stories with you (with full permission, of course). These are super short but incredibly focused accounts of real-life, real heartbreak, and the human resilience required to take the next step. There’s definitely something here for all of us to think, smile and cry about:
1. “Today, after my daughter’s funeral, and several hours of tearful soul-searching, I started going through my phone and deleting two weeks’ worth of condolence messages. There were so many of them that I eventually selected ‘delete all,’ but one message didn’t delete. It was one of the last messages my daughter left me before she died, and it was still marked as ‘new.’ Sometimes my voicemail forces me to listen to old messages before I can delete them, so I played it, even though I really didn’t want to at that moment. My daughter said, “Hey dad, I just wanted to let you know I’m okay and I’m home now.”
2. “It’s been exactly ten years since my controlling, abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar which cost almost $1,000 and took me ages to save for. He sold it on the day I broke up with him. When I went to pick up my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a local pawnshop. Luckily, I managed to track down the guy who bought it from the pawnshop. The guy was really sweet and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I join him on his front porch for an hour and play guitar with him. He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and laughing. He’s been my husband for almost nine years now, and we are happier now than ever.”
3. “Today, on my 47th birthday, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on my 27th birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my apartment and told me, ‘I’m pregnant.’ She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had something to live for. Today she’s my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 19 years. And my daughter, who is now a 21-year-old college student, has two younger brothers. I re-read my suicide letter every year on my birthday as a reminder to be thankful—I am thankful I got a second chance at life.”
4. “My dad is a blind cancer survivor. He lost both his eyes when he was in his early 30’s to a rare form of cancer. Despite this, he raised my sister and me, and took care of my mom who was in and out of rehab for alcoholism and depression. My mom is a fully recovered alcoholic now, my sister and I have graduated from college, and my parents are still together and back to being happy. I’m certain none of this would have been possible if my dad hadn’t been such a resilient, positive force in our lives. My dad’s mental strength literally saved our family. And he’s the one who told me to attend this conference.”
These stories obviously hold many lessons, but one lesson they collectively share is the fact that hard times don’t just break a person, they can also make a person. Hard times are like strong storms that blow against your body and mind. And it’s not just that these storms hold you back from places you might otherwise go, they also tear away from you all but the essential and most powerful parts of you that cannot be torn. Realizing this can be quite enlightening and freeing to the right mindset…
At our annual live seminar, Think Better, Live Better, Marc and I guide attendees through this process of perspective change. Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the present. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin…