Building off the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I would venture to say that adversity is a perception held by the believer. Why do some people thrive by working through adversity to reach new levels of self-confidence; whereas, others stand still or walk away when faced with a challenge? Adversity is not binary but measured on a continuum of difficulty. Everyone has a different appetite for taking on adverse situations. Why do some businessmen file for bankruptcy one day and turn around the next to launch another capital venture, while others are emotionally devastated and flounder in their profession? Why do some ex-spouses never emotionally leave their marriage after a divorce; whereas, others actively heal, move forward, and find healthier relationships? The difference between those who face challenges and those who cower usually depends on (1) the perceived severity of the adverse condition, and (2) the self-confidence to influence the outcome.
Perception and self-confidence are two factors that heavily influence one another. The more self-confidence you have that you can reduce, modify, or eliminate a source of adversity, the more likely you are to not perceive it as adverse. The less you view a condition to be adverse, the more self-confidence you have that you can persevere and facilitate a positive outcome. Which came first? Self-confidence or the perception of adversity? Because we cannot avoid the adversity that comes into our lives, we can choose to embrace it as the iron that can sharpen our self-confidence. I have never met a person with high self-confidence, who has not faced hardship and worked through it only to look back over his/her shoulder to say, “I did that!” Not that everyone has to face adversity alone, but there is a difference between working through adversity with family, friends, and your faith walking alongside you versus having them do the hard work for you.
How can one be better prepared to deal with adversity and reach a more peaceful destination? Consider one or all of the following attitude or behavior changes.
- Accept that adversity is inevitable in life
- Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional
- Allow a short amount of time to feel sad, if necessary, then divert attention to positive tasks
- Build internal resources
- Before adversity strikes, cultivate emotional strength, courage, and discipline
- Invest in self-help books and workshops
- Talk and build relationships with counselors, coaches, and trusted friends
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Be selective in people who are supportive and encouraging
- Pick people who will accept your flaws while challenging you to do better
- Look for the positive
- Focus on the positive aspects of a situation, action to achieve improvement, and a new vision for the future
- Look for inspirational stories from others
- Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities
- Find the learning in the situation
- Share your story with trusted friend and ask him/her to pick out the lesson
- Write down your thoughts
- Writing down emotions helps bring peace
- Personal reflection provides the ability to measure progress
- Lists of past adverse experiences and how you overcame them reminds you of your resiliency
- Start a gratitude journal
- Spend 10-15 minutes a day thinking and writing down for what you are grateful
With your mind better prepared to address adversity, you are now ready to take action. Consider the following next steps.
- Set realistic goals, breaking them down into smaller goals.
- Celebrate achievements of the smaller milestones that build to the final goal.
- Create a visual representation of goals and place these in various locations in your personal environment.
- Get a mentor or coach to provide guidance and support.
- Refuse to quit. You can admit frustration but look for other options to achieve a goal.
The bigger picture thought is that adversity is just an opportunity. God has a purpose for your life. He gives us free will to develop and execute plans, and at times, we take paths that God prefers we do not. God will never leave or forsake us, but sometimes God closes doors and opens others as a means of guiding us back in the right direction. Do not succumb to inaction. When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.