Whether we like it or not, adversity is a part of life, to embrace life challenges. Overcoming adversity is one of the greatest obstacles we face.
Problems, whether big or small present themselves to us throughout our existence.
Regardless of how excited, smart, or happy, you are at the moment, regardless of whether life is going great for you, unexpectedly you will sometimes be confronted with problems, struggles, challenges, difficulties.
It is as if you are put to the test, to see what fiber you are made of, and how you manage to face some catastrophic and distressing situations.
I don’t mean to give the message that the more adversity the better, nor am I an apologist that suffering is a good thing.
No, disabling suffering is not beneficial. Still, it doesn’t invalidate that we think of it as a reality that happens in the life of each one of us, certainly in different numbers and intensities from person to person.
When it happens, accepting it is part of the strategy to rid ourselves of further suffering. Accepting it can be a way to restructure ourselves and move on.
As Havelock Ellis wrote, "Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself."
In fact, thank God for adversity! Learning to deal with and overcome adversity, is what makes us who we are.
Every challenge, every difficulty we successfully face in life serves to strengthen our willpower, confidence, and ability to overcome future obstacles.
Herodotus, a Greek philosopher, said, "Adversity has the effect of drawing out the strength and qualities of a man who would have dormant them in its absence."
When you respond positively and constructively to your greatest challenges, the qualities the strengths, and virtues like courage, character, combativeness, hope, and perseverance emerge from within.
Of course, given that we are human, it is very easy to fall into self-pity, the unfairness of life, or the trap of “why me?”. When we do this, we fail to recognize the opportunities for wisdom and growth that accompany adversity.
However, once we are able or allow ourselves to think more clearly, that we are able to let go of self-destructive victimization and unproductive thoughts, when we embrace life challenges we are also better at dealing with what is before us.
- How to Embrace Life Challenges
- People Who Have Overcome Adversity in Their Lives
- Final Thoughts
How to Embrace Life Challenges
1 – Be Aware, and Accept That Adversity Is Inevitable in Life
As mentioned earlier, adversity is a part of life. Once some misfortune happens to us, not accepting it or resisting it will only cause it to persist.
I don’t mean by this, that we are passive or complacent with adversity and that by accepting it we do nothing to minimize or recover from it.
Not at all, what I mean is that accepting it is a way to let go and restructure. It is a viable way to seek alternative paths and move forward.
Wherever we may go there is bound to be some form of adversity, even if it is not our own. There are floods, tsunamis, wars, and calamities of all kinds.
Even within your own circle of family and friends, there is loss, death, and tragedy. While pain is inevitable, exacerbated suffering is optional.
Just as by contrast happiness is possible but optional. So what can we do?
2 – Build Up Your Inner Resources
Before adversity strikes you, you must set out to work on your emotional balance, you must strengthen your emotional muscles, courage, and discipline.
When you become aware that some difficulties are inevitable, you can mentally prepare yourself to face adversity head-on.
It won’t be much different from the feeling of a soldier going to war. He prepares himself physically and mentally for any possibility.
A soldier knows that it will be disastrous, frightening, and exhausting, but he feels prepared and equipped with a set of strategies that allow him to face the situation with courage.
Most of the time, when you are prepared for the worst, the worst never happens, or is much less severe than anticipated.
Mind you, I am not saying that we should move through life always on alert, watching where the danger is, or with the feeling that we are on the verge of something bad happening to us.
No, that is not beneficial, on the contrary, it can be counterproductive. But just as a doctor, nurse, fireman, or paramedic, or yourself prepare with a first aid course to act accordingly when it is necessary to save a life in imminent distress, so should we.
The preparation to react, to act, and to know how to act in difficult situations, is like a First Aid Kit for when “bad luck” knocks on our door.
If we have it and know how to use it, we will certainly avoid greater damage.
Another valuable resource is self-confidence. Confidence that everything will work out, hope that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and hope that “this misfortune too shall pass.”
Everything in life has its place and purpose, it is up to us to manage that.
3 – Build Your External Resources
Build a support system based on family and friends. When the going gets tough, we all need encouragement and support.
We need someone to talk to, someone to help ease the burden. You would be surprised to find out how many times a friend has had a similar experience and can help guide you through the difficult time.
Knowing that a friend is there when you need him can be very comforting.
If your condition in the face of adversity is not overcome and creates psychological problems such as depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, either through a psychology consultation or a specific support group, such as certain help groups.
4 – Which Does Not Kill Does Not Always Make You Stronger
Sorry Nietzsche, but I cannot fully agree with the statement, “what does not kill us makes us stronger,” it is not completely realistic.
For example, if you have not built and developed certain types of stamina or experienced enough to deal with difficulty, adversity can crush you.
On the other hand, if you have enough stamina, have developed, and worked on certain strengths, then it will actually make you stronger. How so, you ask?
Resilience like any muscle in our body is built gradually and exponentially with repeated exposure to obstacles and external forces.
Not necessarily, if you have no practice in facing obstacles (as when you choose to avoid them), if you decide to still set yourself the challenge of trying, it will surely go wrong, a traumatic event can knock you down.
For everything in life, preparation is key for effectiveness and success. Without preparation, failure is a sure end.
To underscore this point, developmental research has shown that traumatized children are more, not less, likely to suffer again from some kind of trauma or negative consequence.
Similarly, those who grow up in difficult neighborhoods have a propensity for emotional imbalance, become more susceptible in the face of adversity, do not become more resilient, and are more likely to struggle in life.
5 – Get inspired and learn from others who have dealt with success and adversity
There are many inspiring stories of people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
They triumphed over their adversities to live a productive and successful life, rather than surrendering to them.
I don’t want to say that by seeing, reading, or watching the accomplishments of others your problems are solved, or that it will lessen the pain or feeling you have.
But, when you embrace life challenges and become aware of the strategies and ways that these people have activated and/or used to face their problems or to meet their dreams and goals, you can promote and stimulate in yourself a change of perspective regarding your situation.
This change of perspective can promote the discovery of new ways to resolve the difficult situation in which you find yourself.
People Who Have Overcome Adversity in Their Lives
She lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame deafness and blindness, became a strong and educated woman, and promoted women’s rights.
He overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance at school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the 20th century. He was also known for his powerful and exciting speeches.
Born prematurely, she was the twentieth of twenty-two children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio to become the winner of three gold medals in track and field at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
He overcame testicular cancer that spread to his brain and lungs (he was told he had only a 40% chance of survival) to come back and win the Tour de France seven more times!
She was born into a poor family, came out of a bad marriage with a baby and living on government assistance, wrote her first Harry Potter book, and was rejected by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing believed in her worth. Do I need to say more?
Determination, overcoming, and persistence allowed all these great people to overcome their adversities and succeed.
If they could do that, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to at least try to overcome our adversities!
Whether we will then succeed or not? Well, that is a question that neither you nor I at this point can answer.
- The hard times that happen in our lives, can help us understand and appreciate the times when things are going well for us.
- Look at the learning opportunities that all adverse situations contain.
- Decide whether you will allow your experience to bring you down. Depending on how you interpret the situation, do you think you could look at it in a different, preferably more empowering way.
- Be prepared to accept the worst when it occurs. When you mentally prepare for the worst, it rarely happens, and if it does, it seems less catastrophic, because you are better equipped to handle it.
- Cultivate courage, self-confidence, and overcoming. The more of these qualities you can muster, the less impact adversity will have.
- Remember that adversity is part of life. Accepting adversity helps you overcome it.
Overcoming adversity is one of our main challenges in life. When we decide to embrace life challenges, we become experts in dealing with it, and, consequently, we promote triumph over our day-to-day struggles.