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  • Writer's pictureChris People

And still I rise…

This will be a quick one today as simply, put, its hard to do justice to someone as unique and fascinating as Maya Angelou. An activist in the civil rights movement in the US alongside Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; prolific writer, poet, actor and journalist; the poet who made a recitation at Bill Clinton’s inauguration; and whose works span the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression. Let’s also not forget she also appeared on Sesame Street - my absolute favourite show as a child. To my shame, I only recently become aware of her life and her work when the quote in this post was provided on the website of hypnotherapist and hypnosis researcher Adam Eason.

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion,

some compassion, some humour, and some style.”

I would challenge anyone to explore Angelou’s life and work and not find something that you can find inspiring, uplifting or challenging us towards becoming better. Coincidentally, I have been supremely lucky recently to have been part of a study group for the works of one of the pioneers of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Professor Donald Meichenbaum and even more lucky to have had an opportunity to speak to Donald directly during this training. One of the core messages I took from this experience and Donald’s work revolves around examining the stories we tell ourselves about the good and bad things that have happened to us over our lives, and how we can then go on to ‘tell the rest of our story’. I think you’ll see from Maya Angelou someone who truly managed to tell the rest of her story, in spite of the events that happened in her life.

I’ll leave a few more of her inspiring words below, which I would argue could just have easily come from the fields of evidence-based psychotherapy, or one of the Stoic philosophers rather than Maya’s amazing mind. What I find particularly engaging is the prevalence of not only compassion, but passion and humour in her words. As therapists and coaches I think we can often get far too serious in our work - I know I do, and these are a nice reminder.

"You may kill me with your hatefulness. But still, like air, I’ll rise."

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."

"Stand up straight and realise who you are, that you tower over your circumstances."

"Do the best you can do until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

That's it for today. I hope you enjoy.


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