Overcome Painful Experiences

  • Clara Hughes breaks the cycle of abuse
  • Learn 3 strategies to overcome painful experiences
  • Setbacks make us stronger

Clara Hughes was on The Social to talk about her memoir Open Mind, Open Heart. A conversation with Clara could go in countless directions. She’s broken Olympic records, supports organizations like Right to Play and is passionate advocate for mental health. While these topics could all be discussed, I love that The Social focused on how to overcome painful experiences.

You can only change yourself

We all face hardship and loss. Knowing how to overcome painful experiences prevents us from further trauma. It also helps us move forward.

A lot of the difficult times in Clara’s life stem from her relationship with her dad. He was abusive and this made Clara feel inadequate. Along with a low sense of self she felt a lot of guilt about not being able to help him. Even when he was suffering from dementia Clara felt he had power over her. She said she wouldn’t have been able to write her book if he were alive. Clara wanted to protect him from knowing how she felt.

In the interview Clara talks about how she learned to overcome painful experiences by seeking support. She said years of therapy helped her articulate what was going on. Then she could acknowledge her father’s flaws rather than blaming herself. Accepting the facts allowed her to move forward.

I came to learn through a lot of therapy sessions in life that I can’t fix it. I can’t rescue it. I can’t change my mom or my dad or anyone for that matter. But I can change myself.

Encouraging us to focus on what we can improve within ourselves is a powerful message. Clara has shared her story to help others not feel alone. She inspires anyone in a tough spot to reach out. You can change the cycle of abuse by getting help and heeling yourself.

How to overcome painful experiences

Clara also explained that understanding her eating disorder has helped her keep it in check. Controlling what she ate was Clara’s way of bringing order to the disorder in her life.

Make an action plan to overcome painful experiences

1. Pair language with action:
Try to put what’s going on into words so you can squash feelings with facts.

2. Talk to someone:
Reach out to a friend, coach or professional for help when you’re going through a difficult time.

3. Focus your energy where you can make change:
Don’t try to change people around you. Choose areas in your life you can improve. Then make one small adjustment at a time.

Clara announced that all the proceeds from her book are going to different charities. Yet another way Clara Hughes is a hero. And living proof that when we use constructive strategies, setbacks make us stronger.

Click here to watch Clara on The Social discussing how to overcome painful experiences.

Here’s Clara on CBC:



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