• Tommy Cicero

Strength from struggles

"Someone once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand this too was a gift."

- Mary Oliver


We each have our own story about our past; the good, the bad and the ugly. Many of us may have had life experiences we would rather not relive and even make efforts to forget about. Some of us get stuck in the past, reliving old negative patterns instead of paving a better path forward. Some of us make the choice to use our past as a springboard into a brighter future. We can choose to learn and grow from our struggles or become the victim of them.


I experienced many hardships growing up. Many of them were self-inflicted. I made poor choices in my youth. I abused alcohol and drugs. I mistreated people I disliked or disagreed with. I also endured trauma that was not necessarily my fault, but I still had to live with it and learn how to process it. Leading up to my only suicide attempt at 25, I gave into the struggle. I adopted the victim mentality until I realized the only person who could turn my life around was me. I decided to shift from survival mode to a life of striving and thriving.



The catalyst for me was when I took ownership over my life circumstances. I stopped blaming other people or situations for my lot in life. I determined that I was in control, and only I could put myself on the right path toward a life full of more purpose and joy. I was going to play every hand life dealt to me the best I could. It was not easy at first, but it eventually became natural for me to respond to negative outcomes with a positive outlook. What can I learn from this situation? Where are there seeds of opportunity? Three years of talk therapy in my 30's helped immensely!


When we encounter unwelcome circumstances in our life that test our resolve, it's up to us to do something about it. We can allow misfortune and setbacks to define us by either overcoming any adversity we encounter or giving in to it. It really is that simple, but not necessarily that easy. For me, it came with developing more self-awareness and self-love. I started rooting for me instead of feeling sorry for me. It has made all of the difference in turning my struggles into strengths.



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