Lessons from Iyanla Vanzant: How to Fix Your Life after Adversity

Personal Development

Isn’t it surprising that you can have all the fortune and wealth one day and lose it all in the blink of an eye the next day?

Iyanla Vanzant, a renowned motivational speaker who was brought to fame by her many appearances on the Oprah Show, is a living example of courage and the human being’s ability to rise from extreme adversity.

Having accumulated millions from her book deals, her seminars and TV appearances, Vanzant lived large; a life of opulence and fame—until she lost it all. Her marriage, her multi-million dollar book deals, her TV show and appearances, and even her young daughter who died from cancer.

In her book, Peace From Broken Pieces, Vanzant opens up about her whirlwind life experience and how she was able to come back from the brink of depression and suicide.

There is no progress without struggle

When you are in the eye of the storm, it can be difficult to convince yourself that there are lessons to be learnt from your painful experience.

For Vanzant, her loss was so great that she could not get out of bed for five months. She even contemplated suicide because she saw that as the only way out of her immense challenges.

Although the multi-millionaire speaker allowed herself to go through the motions and deeply experience the pain, she came to the realization that she had to look at things differently. Her loss had to happen for her to see that she had not been managing her life—her marriage, finances and lifestyle too well.

Every ‘bad’ experience always has inherent lessons. Usually, the lesson is meant to push you forward to better experiences.

Like Iyanla, it is only by rationalizing in this way that you are more likely to go right through the storm and come out alive.

Support can help to ease the pain

There is comfort in having someone be there for you in your darkest time. On the contrary, isolation can make your challenges look absolutely insurmountable, leading to depression and destruction.

Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends and family.

When Vanzant lost her daughter to cancer, this was the final stroke in her already difficult life. She was so out of her element that she could not take care of herself physically. Her friend moved into her house to help her do the most basic of things such as feeding and bathing.

Iyanla VanzantIt was through this support that she was able to slowly wake up from the foggy depression that had encumbered her for months.

If you do not have friends or family to care for you, join support groups or communities that are undergoing a similar experience. You will be surprised at how fast you will come to grips with your situation.

Have the wisdom to accept

Often, we are unable to control the loss and challenges that are happening. That inability to control or to change things is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of experiencing adversity.

Difficult as it may be, fully accepting your loss is an essential step to healing and moving forward. Acceptance will not happen in one day; it is a process that takes time.

Meanwhile, try to positively rationalize your experience. Tell yourself that there is a lesson to be learnt; that this is for a higher good; that everything that is happening is meant to happen exactly the way it is.

It is, in fact, acceptable to be inactive and just go along with the flow, instead of fighting against the tide. This is the essence of acceptance.

Take steps to create your new normal

After her epic challenges, Vanzant came to the realization that she had to start all over again. Although her life would not be the same as what she had before, she had the courage to leave that behind.

It takes a lot of audacity to end your bad experiences and to create new beginnings. But, it is entirely possible.

Start by making small changes in your life, for example by moving to a new house, frequenting different restaurants, reading books, or teaching yourself a skill. These small changes will help to add new meaning to your life day by day.

Find the Good

In her book, Iyanla Vanzant says that she had to go through her adversity to be able to find ultimate peace. Often, challenges are blessings in disguise, lessons to be learned, and opportunities to be found.

What did you learn from your biggest challenges in life?


  1. Hi Andrew,

    From my experience, being as detached as possible, and humble, and thoughtful, and making tons of friends, can help you through anything. Iyanla is an inspiration because she proves how losing it all and dealing with your darkest emotions makes you more powerful than you can imagine.

    As for me my higher self lined up poverty, and mental illness, for me to learn a few lessons.

    I couldn’t do it all on my own and I had to over deliver, and open income streams, and be passionate about my work, and most importantly, I had to be clear about my blog and brand to carve out a nice little – or big 😉 – successful niche.

    Doing these things was unnatural to me at first. I was so used to doing all things on my own, and failing.

    When I did focus on helping others, and asking for helping, and forming bonds, good things happened for me. It’s that simple.

    I reached out.

    I prospered.

    Thanks so much Andrew. Inspiring post. We could all learn a lesson from someone who comes back from stunning success, to losing it all, to having it all, again.

    Tweeting soon.


    • Thanks Ryan for these great insights and sharing your experience. You are the perfect example of giving to others, and receiving abundance in return. I do believe that for many marketers there is a feeling that they need, or want to do it all on your own. The truth is you can only get so far on your own and we all need others. Have a great day!

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