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15 Shocking Stories of Hope to Supercharge Your Life

15 Shocking Stories of Hope to Supercharge Your Life

Ever feel like the weight of the world is crushing your soul? You’re not alone. Life throws unexpected hurdles at the worst times, but don’t let things beyond your control hold you down. Follow the lead of these fifteen shocking stories of hope. Discover just how possible it is to overcome any hardship and forge your own destiny.

1. Chart your own course

Millions of children have parents infected with HIV. I should know; I was one of them. My father lost his battle. Many people may assume this tragedy would ruin a child, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Take the story of Liz Murray, whose parents were addicts and whose HIV-infected mother sold their church-donated thanksgiving turkey to score a hit of coke.

Liz was bullied for being homeless, smelly, and lice-ridden. Humiliated, she dropped out of school. At age seventeen she returned more determined than ever. She set out to become a straight-A student, but she did more than that. She went from being homeless to being a Harvard graduate and bestselling author. Just imagine what you could do without those hardships.

2. Break free

Some stories are too horrific to detail. That summarizes Dave Pelzer, who suffered one of the worst documented cases of abuse in California history at the hands of his own mother. In spite of being locked up in his basement and forced to endure unspeakable crimes, Dave did more than just survive. He rose above the circumstances.

Dave told his story and became an advocate for the voiceless. He also shared the numerous accounts he received in letters each week from people who had similar experiences. That courage earned him the honor of the National Jefferson Award and designation of Outstanding Young Persons of the World. Learn from Dave. No matter what your struggle, no matter how bad your experience, there is still hope. You are not alone.

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3. Remember the forgotten

One untold story is the millions of newly-widowed men and women every year around the world. Their shared struggle goes ignored by the masses because it is so common. But that commonality is no less painful. That struggle is no less real. While some succumb to the terrible loss of a life partner who defined much of who they were, the vast majority overcome their grief. They honor the memory of those lost with a commitment to make the most of their lives. It’s a courage that should inspire you to remember the brave men and women who live next door. Who should you remember?

4. Define your day

You could be like most people–stuck in the middle–like Hal Elrod used to be. He wasn’t significant in his own mind, just an ordinary person with a normal life and decent job. One day, he chose to set a lofty goal. He achieved that goal and was on cloud nine until a drunk driver hit him head on, broke eleven bones, and left him in a coma for six days. He awoke with permanent brain damage. The doctors told him he would never walk again.

Hal made the decision to be grateful for what he had and to be purposeful in his actions. He didn’t let the doctors define his life. Instead, he defined his own day, every day. Not only did he walk again, he ran. Hal completed a 52 mile ultra-marathon and went on to pen the blockbuster book The Miracle Morning, which awoke the lives of millions. How will you define your day?

5. Set the world on fire

What would you do if burns covered 100% of your body and forced you to stay in the hospital for five months while you watched doctors amputate your fingers one by one?

John O’leary had the horrible misfortune of torching himself at the age of nine, leaving him near death and permanently scarred. Somehow, he survived. It’s not just his miraculous survival that inspires, but how his family and community came together to convince him why life was still worth living. The people he touched and what he did with his life after he left the hospital should convince anyone of the true value of a single life.

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6. Climb your mountain

Jill Kinmont Boothe thought she had everything. She taught herself to ski and became a national champion Olympic prospect. Those hopes were dashed with a near fatal accident that left her permanently paralyzed.

In spite of her rejection by UCLA’s school of education due to her paralysis, her determination led her to become a successful teacher, painter, and role-model to millions, a story that later aired in the movie The Other Side of the Mountain. She never gave up hope. Neither should you.

7. Harness the wind

Imagine living in the small town of Kasungu with no money and limited resources. That’s the story of William Kamkwamba, who at age fourteen read a library book that inspired him to build a windmill with spare parts and power his tiny African village. Stories of his initiative spread across globe, which enabled him to do even more for his community. What problems can you solve with even more resources?

8. Make good art

The advice from British native and writing phenom Neil Gaiman is good enough, but now try it as a quadriplegic. Henry Fraser did just that after losing the use of his limbs from a diving accident that dislocated his neck. Six years later, he returned to art after his injuries forced him to live with his mother and rethink his life. His mouth became his instrument, and he took those paintings and drawings to social media where they garnered the interest of J.K. Rowling and others. His story continues to inspire. Yours can too.

9. Take flight

If an artistic quadriplegic doesn’t motivate you, how about an armless pilot? Jessica Cox was born without arms, but she didn’t let that slow her down. She drives, scuba dives, types on the keyboard, puts on her contacts, and does a lot more—all with her feet. That determination led her to become both the first armless pilot and American Taekwondo black belt without arms. She’s just getting started. How about you?

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10. Live without limits

The world is challenging enough, but what if you were forced to navigate that world without your limbs? Nick Vujicic, who suffers from the rare disorder of phocomelia, did just that and turned his obstacle into a limitless opportunity for outreach and exploration. He lives by the motto, “attitude determines your ability to succeed.” What’s your motto?

11. Realize your dream

Ever had a childhood dream you wish never died? After injuries sidelined his minor-league baseball career a decade earlier, high school science teacher and coach, Jim Morris, received encouragement from his students to pursue his dream and try out for the majors. That effort paid off, and he became the oldest rookie to ever pitch in the major leagues. Think twice before you kill your dream. Most are still within your reach.

12. Never give up

Children can be powerful motivators. San Francisco native Chris Gardner went beyond motivation and took action. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t let his his mother’s imprisonment when he was a child or his failed sales career hold him back.

Persistence propelled him from being homeless to a millionaire stockbroker and amazing provider for his son. Persistence can do the same for you.

13. Shout your message

Imagine being born with a life-threatening illness, one that stigmatizes you in the eyes of everyone. Now add on fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy, and learning impairments. Would you have the courage to overcome those challenges and become a heroic communicator and advocate? Ashley Rose did all that and more. She climbed her personal mountain to become a Tedx speaker, shared her message around the globe, and taught youth about HIV in the hopes of one day achieving a world where no child is born with AIDS. What’s your message?

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14. Revolutionize your world

Stephen Hawking isn’t the only sufferer of a motor neuron disease to shape his field. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger and Smartblogger took the blogging world by storm a few short years ago. Most people never dream of soaring to such heights, but what makes Jon so special is that he was supposed to die of pneumonia before the age of two because of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

Jon owes much of his miracle to his mother, who fought for him every step of the way and didn’t accept an early death as Jon’s only fate. It wasn’t easy. It was shockingly hard, but after languishing near destitution from medical bills, Jon’s commitment to his ideas led him to become the highest draw in his field, with millions of views. What ideas have you let fall by the wayside?

15. Create your legacy

Most people live life oblivious to their potential unless something disturbing jolts them from their uninspiring routine. That characterized Anthony Burgess right up until the doctors told him he would die of cancer in less than a year.

Anthony accepted his fate, but he didn’t do it gracefully. He wanted to leave a legacy, and so he chose to write a book. In that year he wrote five, including A Clock-work Orange. His cancer went into remission, and his year transformed into decades with over two dozen stories to his name. What would you do with your year?

It’s hard not to be motivated by people like these, but humongous things and heroic stories aren’t necessary to have a big impact. You don’t even need motivation or willpower. Big challenges are overcome and big dreams are realized by taking small but consistent actions, like the ones mentioned by Stephen Guise in his book Mini Habits. Over time, those small actions add up and come to define who you are. The only questions you need ask yourself are, “what do you want to accomplish, and what’s your first step?”

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Roy Huff

Author, Scientist, Teacher

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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