Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Viktor Frankl
We can know this in theory, but it’s only when we experience it, when we’re stripped of all we have, all we thought we valued, all we thought we loved, that we’re faced with this decision.
At first we don’t even know that the decision is there, all we see is pain and despair and pity. We ask questions like, ‘what’s the point’? ‘Why me?’ And so on. We walk around with a cloud above our heads, with no light. After the initial darkness, reason and logic begin to creep in, hopefully this doesn’t take too long. We see that there are choices, especially when we come across quotes like this or books like Man’s Search for Meaning, we see that in every circumstance, we can have everything taken from us except our attitude and our choice to choose our path.
The decision isn’t easy to make, pity is intoxicating, pain, sorrow, and depression and all-consuming, but that decision is there and if we begin to make it in small things, we see that we can’t be broken, we see light, we feel true power. The truth is that we can, indeed, have everything we think we need and love and value taken away from us and we can actually choose to be better off for it, to become better because of it. In doing so we become truly powerful.
Most emails I get from guys – other than those about T – are about dealing with tough times, break-ups, a lack of certainty and clarity about life (which is difficult) and so forth.
What we often fail to realize is the choice that can be made. We can completely change our perspective on a situation, find good in it, find a worthy struggle within it… Struggle. It’s something we want to avoid in today’s society, and likely always have wanted to avoid, but it’s within struggle that we grow, evolve, and become someone better.
A worthy struggle can provide an opportunity to even change how you see yourself for the better. It can force you to create confidence where there is none, to necessarily change who you think you are because if you keep seeing yourself as a loser, a victim, you’ll never live the life you want to live. By forcing yourself to see yourself as someone and something better you climb out of whatever you’re facing and set yourself up for a better life in the future.
A worthy struggle is a gift, not a curse. It creates calluses where softness and weakness dominated. It turns a boy into a man. It turns a man into a warrior. It turns a warrior into a king.
Whatever you’re going through, even if it’s uncertainty, maybe pain or failure or depression or sadness and despair, don’t just ‘keep going’, though you should, no, step back, detach, see how you can use it to transform into someone better, how you can use it to become tougher.
Choose your way out.
Get after it.