Adversity. Hardship. Setbacks. Trauma.
These are facts of life. Bad things happen to even the strongest and most prepared of us.
Adversity causes us to question ourselves and the world as we know it.
Yet, the difference between those who overcome setbacks and those who fall off the cliff is the narrative they construct to deal with a difficult situation.
Those who thrive develop a solution/possibility-focused narrative.
This does not mean that they pretend, hide, or put on a fake veneer of positivity.
It means they choose to look at setbacks as an opportunity to reevaluate, improve, and grow.
This guide will give you practical suggestions on how to thrive in the midst of adversity and become your best self.
Reflect But Do Not Attempt To Make Sense of Everything
When faced with a difficult situation, most people ask ‘why?’ ‘how?’ ‘what?’
‘Why did this happen to me?’
‘How did this even happen?’
‘What just happened?’
It is normal to ask these questions. It is your brain’s way of trying to make sense of the situation.
However, trying to piece together the puzzle of a traumatic event can be a slippery slope. When you are asking ‘why me?’ you can easily trap yourself in a victim mentality cycle, and ultimately, depression.
In adversity, you want to find someone to blame, whether that is you or someone else. But, there is a better way around this.
If you really want to survive and thrive in the haze of it all, you must strongly decide that you will not allow yourself to get caught up in the “blame game”.
You also have to surrender to the fact that at this point in time, it might be impossible for you to understand everything that is happening.
When you are not entrapped in the minutiae of the situation, you give yourself space to find solutions. This is reflection.
Reflection, as opposed to overthinking, gives you an opportunity to look at a setback more objectively. This way, you can see the situation for what it is without blaming yourself or others and without feeling like a victim.
Reflection empowers you. Overthinking disempowers you.
Look At Adversity As A Chance To Explore New Possibilities
This is especially true when you are faced with a challenging situation.
It is easy to ask why this has happened to you.
But, you are better off asking what you can learn from this.
In an uncanny way, adversity usually paves the way to new opportunities and fresh beginnings.
Look back at some of your lowest moments.
Perhaps you lost your job.
Maybe you dealt with the heartache of a divorce.
You could have lost your home or a loved one.
When you endured a major illness.
Not only did all these bad situations pass. It is likely they also ushered in new opportunities that were probably not on your radar.
A job loss could be just the kind of trigger you need to finally start that business or to find a better paying job.
An adversarial divorce could be the lesson you needed to learn how to build better relationships.
The loss of a loved one could be just what you need to value your friendships more.
A major illness could have been the wakeup call you needed to take care of yourself better.
It is important to look at challenging situations not as a zero-sum game but rather as the start of a new dawn filled with many possibilities.
The ability to see possibility when you are right in the middle of a storm is what differentiates those who come out of an adversity stronger and better and those who are completely swept under by the challenges in their lives.
Invite Divine Guidance
Some bad situations are difficult to make sense of using your five common senses. But, somehow, when you feel a connection to a higher power (whether you call that God, Allah, Spirit, Universe, Divine etc) the situation at hand tends to feel less overwhelming and confusing.
When you are feeling lost and there does not seem to be a way out of it, consider asking for divine guidance.
The good news is that the Universe is always working for you. Difficult as it may be to understand, the Universe is always conspiring with you, not against you.
You will find this to be true when you look back at the various setbacks you have encountered in the past. In hindsight, you realize that your adversity had to occur so that something else, usually better, can happen.
Meditate. Be alone with your thoughts. Ask for strength and the gift of wisdom to enable you to remain resilient and come out of this a better and stronger person.
Ask your Divine Power to help you learn the lessons that this situation is teaching you. Those who thrive in adversity always seek the underlying lesson that each setback brings.
Sometimes, the answer may not be clear at first. But when you remain open, you will start to understand the lessons your adversity is trying to teach you.
Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others, and Learn To Let Go
A lot of the time when we are faced with unpleasant situations, we look for someone or something to pin the blame on.
This is a basic survival instinct. It is not the healthiest way to deal with challenges but it is the body and mind’s way of making sense of difficult tectonic shifts in our lives.
Often, the first culprit to suffer blame is none other than you. When things go south, you can quickly resort to blaming your incompetence, stupidity, gullibility, sensitivity etc. for the difficult situation you now find yourself.
Here’s how the self-blame train goes:
‘How could you be so incompetent as to lose your job?’
‘I was so naïve to invest my savings in that now-defunct organization.’
‘Why was I so stupid to have trusted that man/woman?’
‘I did not save enough for retirement. What is wrong with me?’
And on, and on, and on the train goes. If the train continues this way, one thing is for sure, you are headed for a crash.
If we are not blaming ourselves then we are blaming someone else or both. But blame never solves anything and only helps to worsen the pain.
Sometimes, we or others will have contributed to the problem at hand. However, there is a difference between acknowledging what happened and remaining stuck in the blame game.
Now is the time to forgive yourself. You do not need another person’s permission to do so. Just decide that you are going to forgive yourself for any role you may have played.
Do the same for others who may have caused you pain or loss. Forgive them and let go. Your goal is to move forward. This does not mean that you should just ‘let bygones be bygones.’ That is a passive way of dealing with challenges.
What it does mean, however, is that you should practice acceptance and come to terms with the reality so you can find sustainable solutions. It means acknowledging the role you or another person played in bringing about the situation and then striving to move forward without the burden of blame. Quite simply, let it go.
You will find that the act of letting go gives you clarity and blesses you with healing. It will give you a clean break to start over yet again.
Practice Patience, Give Yourself Time To Heal
One of two things happens when we are faced with an awful situation.
One, we want to spring to our feet and fight the problem immediately. We want it to go away ASAP.
Two, some of us curl up, hibernate, and just lack the energy to fight back.
You might look at it as a “fight or flight” mechanism.
None of these two approaches to dealing with adversity is necessarily wrong. Each is just a basic survival instinct.
Nonetheless, when you are right in the middle of a storm, it is important to realize that the pain, frustration, disappointment, and anxiety will not disappear immediately no matter how hard you try to fix the situation.
Take each day at a time. Take it as it comes. Practice patience and trust the process.
When you lack patience, especially when faced with a challenging situation, you are actually at risk of missing the bigger lesson this situation is teaching you.
When you lack patience, you are fighting what is. Fighting reality only makes your pain, frustration, disappointment, or anxiety worse.
On the contrary, patience allows you to sit with the situation. To examine it from a three-dimensional perspective. Doing this allows us to breath and take inspired steps toward making things better.
Acknowledge that things may not change immediately but time has a way of making unpleasant situations better, somehow.
Take Action And Move To The Next Level
You should definitely mourn your loss if you need to.
It is okay to sleep on if that is all you want to do.
Perhaps you want to just sit still and do nothing.
Do what you need to do to deal with the challenging situation you are facing.
But, be ready to do the work that is necessary to move through and past your challenges.
The truth is, only you can decide how to deal with the hand you have been dealt. You can choose to do nothing, give up, and become stuck in self-destructive behaviour. Or you can choose to wake up, learn from the lesson, and face adversity head-on.
Here is the thing: Don’t worry about taking big actions. If all you can do is start small, then start right there. Move at your own pace but be sure to keep moving.
Setbacks give you the opportunity to move to the next level. Maybe you have been playing small, now is the time to scale and put yourself out there.
Maybe you have not been taking care of your health, now is the time to put in place a plan for a healthier lifestyle.
If you lost a loved one, now is the time to take action to appreciate those in your life. Now is the time to seek the help you need to overcome your grief.
If you want to thrive in adversity, you have no option but to boldly choose to take inspired action to change your reality.
Seek Community and The Nuggets Of Wisdom That Come With It
Reaching out to others at your time of need is a powerful coping mechanism. In a society that idolizes individualism, it can be difficult to open up to others about our problems.
However, trying to deal with adversity on your own can be a long, winding, lonely road. Consider bringing in your social network to help you cope with the hardship you struggling with.
Friends, families, loved ones, and even strangers can be a great source of comfort and wisdom. Exactly what you need to get through a rough patch.
If you are looking for new employment or business opportunities, reach out to others. You will be surprised by how much opportunity there is outside of your comfort zone.
If you are looking to get into better shape, seek help from both professionals and others like you who are working toward a similar goal. When you are dealing with grief, do not be afraid to reach out to a qualified individual. If deciding to take control of your life in other areas, seek the services of a Life Coach.
Join virtual or offline groups comprised of people who have undergone the same challenges as you and are thriving despite it all. Their stories will certainly inspire, strengthen, and help you realize that you too shall overcome this.
Thrive in Adversity
Adversity will change you but it does not have to destroy you. While you cannot prevent unpleasant situations from happening, you can choose how to respond to these challenges.
No matter how bad things look right now, only you have the power to construct a narrative that will set you on a path to healing, recovery, and success. If you’d like help with that you can also get in touch with me through my Life Coaching Services page.