Second Chances

twoRecently, I’ve been gifted second chances to reassess what I had previously ruled out in both my professional and personal life. While not all life experiences are destined to have an encore, it seems that some are meant to come around again, after we’ve grown and healed old wounds, our perspective has evolved, and we’ve dropped the blinders we had on when we experienced—and rejected—them the first time.

Inspired by these recent developments, I’d like to talk about second chances, especially in relationships that are chosen in adulthood, not the familial ties with which we were born. What treasures is life seeking to offer us through second chances in these chosen relationships? The short answer is to be continually supported to know ourselves at a deep level and be who we really want to be. Want to know how I came up with that answer? Read on.

You Reflect Me

In the past, I had written about relationships serving as mirrors for us. This is a phenomenon the sociologist, Charles Cooley, coined “The Looking Glass Self.In others’ reactions to us, we see reflections of ourselves—the traits we like and don’t like, the parts of us we find easy to embrace and the parts we’ve rejected (unknowingly).

With every quality we admire in others, the very same quality within us hungers for our attention. For instance, when we are mesmerized by someone’s charisma, our own charisma yearns to be developed and expressed. By the same token, things that irritate us about others serve to point out shadows we don’t wish to own. For example, being suffocated by highly controlling people is meant to trigger reflection on the ways in which we don’t trust our own judgment and hold our own ground—such that healing can take place.

You Inspire Me

In the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, there’s a scene in which Sally Field’s character tells her estranged husband, played by Robin Williams, why they can’t stay together. Among all reasons, she tells him that she simply doesn’t like who she has become being married to him. Ouch! Tough to stay married to someone whom you feel brings out your worst, even if you may be two objectively fine individuals.

swan mirror imageCan you think of people who are to you like Robin Williams is to Sally Field? Conversely, can you think of people who inspire you, e.g., to be more authentically you, to be braver, more compassionate, more accountable, etc.? Don’t you love them not only for what they bring to your life, but also how they make you feel? They have a way of inspiring you to be the best version of you. They have a way of bringing out the aspects of you of which you’re most proud and which you most love. You simply feel like a better person when you’re around them.

Related to the above point, why are some people so impossible to let go and forget? How did they manage to get so deep under your skin? Consider this: What you crave isn’t necessarily them or their presence in your world for its own sake. Rather, what’s intoxicating is what they evoked within you and the part of you they helped to bring out, which thirsted to be developed and expressed. This unforgettable person was simply the catalyst who drew out that part of you that yearned to be seen, heard, felt and understood. What you really miss is the precious part of you that went back into hiding once that catalyst left.

I Inspire You

The flip-side of the above is also true. After all, relationships are a two-way street. Can you think of people you’ve inspired? To quote someone from my past, “Alice, you are someone who makes those around you want to rise up and be a better person.” Others have expressed similar sentiments over the years. I feel truly grateful and privileged to be a catalyst in their lives. I’m not sharing this to brag, but rather to point out that, as much as others come into our lives for a reason, we’re in their lives for a reason as well. We are mirrors for each other, and we serve each other in this life after all.

Take Two

We aren’t always ready to look at what seeks to develop within us and/or what disowned shadows we need to accept compassionately. That’s why the same kind of relationships shows up in our lives one after another to prompt us to embrace our virtues and shadows. This cycle will continue with different counterparts, until we extract the lesson repeated. For instance, using the above example about controlling people, we’ll keep attracting different individuals with similar behavior, until we heal from old control issues and learn to trust ourselves and hold our own.


In the case of second chances, I believe these are soul agreements we’ve made with certain individuals who are meant to come into, out of and back into our lives again—through seasons of personal growth and evolution in consciousness. These soul partners are meant to be in our lives for more than a single period, even if interrupted between appearances, and even if we don’t know ahead of time how long they’ll remain in our lives. Nonetheless, the gifts they come bearing for us are tremendously valuable and always for the ultimate purpose of supporting our soul desire to know ourselves deeply and be the person we really want to be.

Nearly twelve years ago, a former significant other asked for another chance to put us back together. Even though we had a great connection, I turned him down because my heart—and ego—didn’t want to risk further bruising. Then, he moved across the country, and we quickly lost track of each other. For a number of years after that, I had wondered off and on what might have been if I had said “yes” to his request for a second chance.

With that missed opportunity as a teacher, I vowed not to miss another second chance. In fact, if I should ever find myself mishandling an opportunity the first go around, I’d meditate on whether it’d be wise for me to create my own second chance—before the window closes permanently, leaving behind regrets.

Over to you: Do you believe that life presents us with second chances to support us to know ourselves and be who we really want to be? Have you ever had a second chance with something/someone? Did you take it? What did you gain/learn from your choice? Would love for you to share in the comment box below!


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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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TerriKlass 1 Like

Beautiful and inspirational post, Alice! Thank you for bravely sharing your inner world with us. I do believe there are people out there that it is fine for us to welcome in and out of our lives depending on where we are on our journey. It is only when they cause us pain or discomfort that we need to bid them farewell. And that good-bye can be very painful as we do it with mixed emotions. I so appreciate all your insights! 

DrAliceChan moderator

@TerriKlass Many thanks for your kind words and for sharing your comments, Terri. Yes, good-byes are often painful. But, if the reason or the season for someone walking with us is over, those painful farewells are necessary. In some cases, the farewells are really "see you again later," when, apparently, those agreements involve a parting of ways before the paths converge again. And, those are our second chances.

kwatsonka 1 Like

Thank you so much Most Amazing Alice.  

 I believe Life provides us with infinite chances and that any choice I make is perfect for me in that moment.  No regrets.  We live in a harmonious universe supported by Love in every thought, word and choice we make.  There are no mistakes. I have had people in my life that really puzzle me.  I love them and they puzzle me.  I don't have to know why they puzzle me for I trust they are there to show me something in myself that is FOR ME.  That is what I focus on.  Everything in my life is for me.  Every situation shows me something about myself.  Every relationship is an opportunity to show me how to love myself even more.  No regrets just love who I am today.

DrAliceChan moderator

@kwatsonka Couldn't agree more, Karen, that life is for us, and every situation is an opportunity to know ourselves at a deeper level. Life indeed offers us infinite chances for our deepening, and self-love is the purpose in all relationships, even the ones, as you said, puzzle us. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!

AlliPolin 1 Like

Alice, I do believe in second chances.  I have people that float in and out of my life and when they return, i'm joyful and ready for us to re-engage our relationship.  I'm also struck that even when we've drifted apart, I have not always let go but instead, like you, thought about them and our parting often over the years.  I do believe in closing doors but maybe there really isn't a need for a lock... Thanks for such a powerful post, Alice!

DrAliceChan moderator

@AlliPolin Alli, great point about closing doors without locking them! Some of us need closure more than others. Especially when we're hurt, we may want to shut doors quickly and move on to shut out further pain. However, in doing so, we may miss out on second chances. Not all relationships come with them, but some do. And, it'd be for our good to be open and receptive to discern which ones warrant second chances and which ones don't.

ThinDifference 1 Like

A powerful post, Alice. The concept of soul agreements is an interesting one. Many times, we may not realize one is made because it is coming from another person. It may not be recognized by the other or specifically discussed between the two people. An implied soul agreement may be a missed one.

When it comes to family or even old friends, we miss some of those opportunities for second chances because we focus too much on the past and may not recognize changes made -- from both sides. Meditating on these opportunities for second chances may be the best way to sort through them and plot a course forward. Jon

DrAliceChan moderator

@ThinDifference Jon, you hit the nail right on its head! It's really about recognizing the soul agreements between us and different people in our lives. The specific terms of the agreement elude the human mind, but what we can tend to is our openness and awareness to the fact that everyone in our lives in all capacities serve a purpose--and we serve a purpose in theirs at the same time. With this openness and awareness, we're less likely to get hung up on the past or put blinders on that leads to missed opportunities, second or otherwise. Thank you for joining the conversation with your observations, Jon!

JoyChristin 1 Like

Hi Alice,

I love the clarity in this reflection.  

I have experienced an incredible "second chance".  I fully believe in and practice honoring the mind/body connection.  But I hadn't always.  Having been raised in  chaos and abuse, I purposely buried my heart whispers, instead of listen to and live them.  When I chose to become a mother, I chose to practice presence.  As a single mother, my presence felt essential to the "success" of mothering :) Well, when my children were 8& 6, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer and told I wouldn't live past the next few months. I centered deeply into my practices, requiring minimal surgery, eventually healing before those few months were "up".  

The fact that I lived was huge. I enjoyed honoring my practices, deepening into them, living fully appreciative of the moment I was in....truly a gift.  However, I kept a few compromising connections around me, people who didn't understand or believe in the practices I was vesting in (things like daily meditation, eating only foods that nourish, making the time to celebrate the day).  I knew I was compromising, but I felt this loyalty to them, which "trumped" my loyalty to fully center.  Two years later, I was extremely ill--doctors thought my body was rejecting my stomach.  I was on bed rest, in pain, for six weeks.  I chose to release these connections, knowing this compromise was affecting my health.  It took a few weeks to remove myself from meds, and then, that was it.  Since then, I have been healthy in all ways.  And I know  that was my "second chance"....which is "why" my heart is full of love and gratitude, each day!

DrAliceChan moderator

@JoyChristin Wow, Joy, I'm beyond grateful for your sharing of the pair of profound second chances in your life! Your courage, clarity and sure knowingness about your truth is so inspiring! No wonder you radiate such joy, peace and love. I'm honored to know you, even if only virtually at this point. Many thanks for taking the time to share so authentically your unbelievable life experiences here! You're amazing, Joy!

karenjolly 1 Like

Hi Alice,

I loved this article. Second chances to me are about believing in yourself and in the possibilities. I've been married for just over thirty years and there have been many, many second chance we've taken with each other along the way. If either of us had not been willing to allow a second chance we would have missed a lot of spectacular times together. But it is a two-way street as you said, if it is only one way then you much allow that second chance for yourself to move on to something better and more fulfilling. I find this true in so many areas of my life. So I believe being open within yourself for second chances is what is key. I love that attitude in you - soooo refreshing! 

Thank you for the inspiration Alice!

DrAliceChan moderator

@karenjolly Karen, thank you so very much for providing a great example of second chances existing in an established relationship, not just one that might have been interrupted with separation. I love what you said about missing spectacular times if you and/or your husband of 30+ years weren't open to second chances. The fact that you've been together for so long is the perfect testament to staying open within yourself for second chances. Again, deep appreciation for adding such value to this discussion!

tsihly 1 Like

I think sometimes life offers second chances and other times not. The trick is to recognize those second chances and use them to correct failures and improve. I believe that second chances present opportunities for learning, reflection and growth. When we develop strong relationships we are able to take advantage of second chances to help us grow and move forward. Sometimes when I recall my early teaching years I wonder what I would have done had I had a second chance to do it again. How would those experiences be like if I were to experience them again knowing what I know now? Although we can't bring back the past, we can make better decisions in the present and future. Nonetheless, I feel that I have inspired my students and touched their lives in some ways even if I taught without all the knowledge and experience I now have. I think that as long as I have the passion and commitment to continue learning and improving I will continue to grow and make better choices in the new challenges that come my way.

DrAliceChan moderator

@tsihly Thank you very much for joining the conversation with your valuable insights! Yes, second chances do indeed help us grow and move forward. And I couldn't agree with you more about inspiring your students by your commitment, passion and dedication beyond the techniques of teaching. One of the highest compliments I used to receive back in my professorial days was that I was a role model to my students. It went beyond the subject matter I was teaching them. They appreciated what they learned from me as a person. Again, welcome, and much gratitude for your insights on this topic!

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas 1 Like

Hi Alice,

This was a very interesting post, indeed. Regarding your question about having a second chance, I used to believe when I was growing up with serious low self-confidence problems that second chances didn't exist. However, through creating changes in my life, I began to learn from direct experience that second chances were always there. However, I was in such a bad state previously that I didn't know this. Further, I had to create second chances through actually taking action. I believe we all have second chances available to us. However, we need to train our minds to first see the chances, and secondly, be courageous to actually take them.

Thank you.

DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Many thanks for your genuine and thoughtful response, Hiten! Yes, we do need to have the consciousness to recognize second chances and the courage to do something seize them--and in some cases create them, as you said. Life doesn't punish us for messing up or missing the first time. It's constantly conspiring to support our growth and evolution. Thank you so much for joining the conversation here! Always appreciate your thoughts!

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