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Claiming Difficult Experiences

Today, I’m sharing with you a TED Talk that I listened to a couple of months ago. I’ve revisited the video several times, and I still don’t know what I think about it. In this talk, Debra Jarvis, a hospital chaplain, delivers what I consider a positive message for cancer patients (or anyone who has lived through a traumatic event). She encourages us to claim our most difficult experiences and use them for personal growth rather than allowing these experiences to define us in a static manner. I always search for the good in the worst, so this advice resonates with me.

What I don’t like is Jarvis’ story of a woman she ran into one year after her cancer treatment ended. The woman was fixated on the difficulty of her treatment and began recounting it to Jarvis even though Jarvis had seen her throughout the treatment. She described it as suffering, agony and struggle. She said she “felt crucified.” Jarvis told her to get off her cross.

I understand Jarvis’ point of view. The woman was alienating people by dwelling on the difficulty of her experience. However, I think we recover and move on from these experiences at our own pace. Sometimes we do get stuck in a rut and need a little nudge, but I wonder if there is a gentler way to help someone “get off their cross.”

Aside from this, I like Jarvis’ message. Watch it below and let me know what you think.


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