Adversity is a subject that for many people represents unpleasant and uncomfortable thinking, because it usually involves looking at some trauma, grief, distressing or extremely challenging situation.
This can involve illness, injury, financial stress bereavement or family and relationship troubles to name a few. On the lower end of the scale it may cover struggles to bring about effective lifestyle changes, challenges with studying, teething problems in business, work or relocation.
Human nature is such that many tend to shrink in the face of challenge and adversity, and navigate it with baited breath. Unfortunately this approach can lead to a situation dragging out longer than necessary with accumulated excessive stress in the process.
This used to be my approach to challenges in my earlier years. I would get agitated, play out worse case scenarios in my mind, become distracted, and at times displace my stress onto others in an abrupt manner. Maybe you can relate.
So what is the key to dealing with adversity in a way that minimizes the unpleasant feelings and brings resolution in the best possible way.
The first thing is to look at what you are associating with adversity. You can do that by simply calling the things that come to mind when that word is mentioned. Usually stress, tension and anxiety will be common associations.
It becomes clear from the above scenario that in order to navigate adversity in a more empowered way, the perspective of adversity needs to change. So let me offer a few perspectives from what I discovered. Play with these to discover its truth for yourself.
1) Adversity is a part of life rather than an intrusion on life
2) Adversity is like a mirror reflecting back to you where you are at in terms of character, resilience and resourcefulness to name a few.
3) Adversity carries opportunity for inner growth
4) Adversity is like a friend in disguise, acting as a door opener toward success
Many who read the above may understand and agree in theory, but that theoretical understanding alone is not enough to bring about a positive change.
It is essential to experiment and give yourself an experience of those things in order to bring about significant and lasting change at root level. By way of example let’s take a look at the first one on the list above.
Football gave me an insight into this. I used to play in women’s football which is a physical contact sport in which you can get tackled legitimately or fouled against the rules. As it was part of the game I would get up quickly when fouled. The bigger aim was to score goals and win the match.
It helped me to understand that life is like a physical contact sport, in that it involves human touch, and events can occur that can knock us. Football served as an analogy to help me translate what I learnt on the football pitch into my life – adversity and challenges are a part of life not an intrusion.
When I translated this lesson across, everything changed in the way I perceived challenges and adversity. It dissolved my resistance and I met it head on, with my focus on the bigger picture, whilst extracting the gift and opportunities it bought for growth.
This then became a breeding ground from which I made discoveries about the other three points above, which I wrote about in my book Breaking Free. So find the experience or create the experience in your life that will allow you to discover these truths for yourself, and have fun in the process of creating that experience.