Inspiring Examples of Resistance: Dealing with Adversity and Heartbreak



It has been awhile since I posted anything in the Inspiring Examples of Resistance series I started last year. This has not been because of any lack of inspiring stories out there, because there are many. I had my focus on other areas.

Recently I came across a quote and posted it to my Facebook Page. A therapist commented, insinuating that this quote was unrelated to our profession. It gave me pause, and at first I tacitly agreed and defended myself based on the fact that it was a motivational quote. As I thought about it further I could see how the quote, on it's surface, may look unrelated. A deeper look into the person and her story made the quote glaringly relevant to therapy and self-development, and more importantly embodied a message that I believe all men (and women) should take an example from.

The quote was from Eleanor Roosevelt. "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

At face value it may seem to be talking down to people who talk about events and people while putting people who discuss ideas on a lofty pedestal. Who doesn't talk about events and people? I certainly do. Anyone who knows Eleanor Roosevelt's story may follow along with my logic here in identifying this quote as a shift in her thought that allowed her to make a dramatic recovery from the deep depression she had gone through in her life.

Eleanor Roosevelt had quite the life, full of ups and downs. The part of her life I want to focus on, which is what ended up being the catalyst for her decision to return to public life, was upon discovering that her husband Franklin Roosevelt had an affair. After the affair FDR had with Lucy Mercer in 1918, Eleanor resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own. The way I read this decision of hers was that she resolved not to let her life be defined by her husband, by her marriage, or by this affair. Instead of giving into envy and jealousy, preoccupying herself as to the event of the affair, or ruminating over who this person was that her husband had an affair with and what it was about this other woman he liked, Eleanor Roosevelt focused on her ideas of what a better United States would be in too many ways to elaborate on here. Eleanor Roosevelt made the distinct decision at that time she would focus on her own accomplishments and strive to reach the potential she felt in her life. In short, Eleanor Roosevelt became a woman of her own merits, which in her time was not easy for a woman. Not only did this significant shift in her thinking drive her own emotional recovery, but inspired an entire generation and we are all the better for it. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the most influential people in U.S. history, and to this day is still one of the most widely quoted people.

What does this have to do with men? EVERYTHING! Anyone who has been knocked down in life, dispirited by life's stresses and struggles, or felt the pangs of a disappointed love or crush, knows how easy it is to get caught up in these common life events. Do these events define you? Are the women who dumped you, cheated on you, or rejected more important than you or what you want to do with your life? I think not. Sure, we all have these thoughts. It is what we do after we catch ourselves getting caught up in them that matters. The example of resistance to day to day negativity Eleanor Roosevelt provides is an inspiring one to say the least!


Photo courtesy of Marion Doss (