What I Know For Sure
by Oprah Winfrey
- Personal Development
- Ashto =
- Jonesy =
What do you know for sure?
In 1998, when Oprah was interviewing for the movie Beloved, a film critic from the Chicago Sun Times asked her a question, “Tell me… What do you know for sure?”
It was such an expected and powerful question that she was at a loss for words. But it prompted Oprah to spend months and years thinking about the possible answers. “What do I know for sure?” became a central question in her life, and she’s explored that question in her monthly column for 14 years.
Here’s what you need to know.
Take a breath for a moment. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it expand as you inhale. Then let it contract and deflate as you exhale.
That cycle happens on average 720 times an hour, more than 17,000 times a day.
The biological wonder of a breath is so easy to take for granted. But when we are mindful enough to notice it, it surely is awesome to experience the miracle of life.
Life is a miracle. No matter how you came to be, whether you were wanted, or were an accident as Oprah was. Every person carries their own story and has their share of life lessons. And it is our choice to learn from them and shape a better life.
We tend to make our paths more difficult than they need to be. By resisting and struggling, we put ourselves in constant chaos and frustration. When in fact, it’s all so simple. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The energy you create and release into the world will be reciprocated on all levels. And our main job in life is to align with the energy that is the source of all energies and keep our frequency tuned to the energy of love.
Oprah always kept a gratitude diary up until 1996. But then life got busy, and her habit started slipping away. A few years ago, she came across the old journal entries, and she wondered why she no longer felt the joy of simple moments. Since 1996, she’s accumulated more fame and wealth – but how did she have all those opportunities and options and still felt no delight?
Making gratitude a daily priority back then made a difference. She went through her days, looking for things to be grateful for, and the moments would show up. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of what you have and focus less on what you don’t. Sometimes we get focused on the climb’s difficulty that we lose sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.
Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But when we’re feeling less thankful, gratitude can give us perspective. Gratitude can alter any situation by shifting your negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest and most powerful way to change your life – this, Oprah knows for sure.
No matter who we are or where we come from, we all have our journey. Oprah’s began in 1953 in Mississippi, where she was conceived out of wedlock. No one was prepared for Oprah’s arrival. There were no baby showers, none of the anticipation or delight that we see in the faces of expectant friends, who rub their swollen stomachs with reverence. Her birth was marked by regret, hiding, and shame.
Like Oprah, you might have experienced things to make yourself feel unworthy. But we know for sure that healing the wounds of the past is one of the biggest and worthwhile challenges of life. It’s important to know when and how you were programmed so that you can change the program. There is one irrefutable law of the universe: we are each responsible for our own lives.
If you’re holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you’re wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive. Begin by noticing how every day brings a new opportunity for your growth. How buried disappointments with your mother show up in arguments with your spouse. How unconscious feelings of unworthiness appear in everything you do and don’t do. All of these experiences are your life’s way of urging you to leave the past behind and make yourself whole.
Every challenge we take on has the power to knock us to our knees. But what is much more disconcerting than the jolt itself is the fear that we won’t withstand it. When we feel the ground beneath us shifting, we panic and allow fear to freeze us. But the only way to endure is to adjust your stance. Stop stressing about the past or fearing what may happen in the future, and bring yourself back to the present. If you’re living in the here and now – you’ll be ready to handle whatever shake up life brings.
For years, Oprah had a secret that almost nobody knew. She was sexually abused from 10 – 14, and finally, at 14, she became pregnant. She imagined that every person on the street would be pointing their finger at her and saying, “Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl.”
No one said a word, though. Not strangers or people she knew. For decades, she had been expecting a reaction that had never come. Isaiah 54:17 says: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” Every difficult moment has its silver lining. And Oprah soon realised that having the secret out was liberating and helpful for her healing journey.
Whenever Oprah faces difficulty, she asks, “what would I do if I wasn’t afraid of making a mistake, feeling rejected, looking foolish or being alone?” When you remove the fear, the answer you’ve been searching for comes into focus. And as you walk into what you fear, you should know for sure that your deepest struggle can produce your greatest strength. And being open to learning from those challenges is the difference between succeeding and getting stuck.
The true measure of your courage isn’t whether you reach your goal. It’s whether you decide to get back on your feet no matter how many times you’ve failed. It’s not easy. But we know for sure having the courage to stand up and pursue your wildest dreams will give you life’s richest reward and life’s greatest adventure.
How can I realize my potential more fully? Neal Donald Walsh says that as long as you’re still worried about what others think of you, they own you. Only when you require no approval from outside yourself can you own yourself.
It’s true that when you summon the courage to step out, speak up, and change yourself, the results may not always be pleasant. But the alternatives are even worse. You might find yourself stuck in a miserable rut for years at a time. Or you could spend too many days languishing in regret, always wondering: “What would my life have been like if I hadn’t cared so much about what other people thought?”
Oprah’s biggest mistakes have all stemmed from giving her power to someone else. Oprah had gone through some tough times in her life. She was a very religious woman and had a lot of faith in God, so she prayed for better circumstances. When a boyfriend treated her poorly, she wondered why she accepted such treatment, but she would pray to God that things would improve. When she was getting paid 50 cents an hour, she prayed for better working conditions. Whenever she missed an opportunity for a new job, with the employer saying that she wasn’t good enough, she would go home and pray to God to make her better. She kept hoping and praying that things would change, that things would get better… But they never did. So next, she prayed to God to make her better or stronger. She prayed, then waited… and waited… and waited… all the while stuck in her same old patterns.
Then one day, she got it! While she was waiting on God, God was waiting on her. He was waiting on her to decide to either pursue the life that was meant for her or be stifled by the one she was living. She recognised that she didn’t need to outsource her happiness to others or have a boyfriend to make her feel loved and worthy. She could start to move in the direction of the life she wants.
Dream big (very big). Then work hard (very hard). If life teaches you nothing else, know this: “When you get the chance… go for it!”