My favorite quote of all time is the last stanza of this Victorian poem by William Ernest Henley.
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
I love the power this poem conveys – especially the last two lines. No matter what happens, I know that I am in control of my fate and that I am the one steering the ship of my life. It helps me avoid falling into the trap of feeling victimized or being made to feel guilty by others. I don’t remember when I first heard this poem – I think it was an old Army veteran I worked with about twenty years ago – but I don’t remember when I haven’t had those last few lines always running through my subconscious.