Overcoming Adversity: Why We Can Do It

CoachHub · 16 December 2022 · 6 min read

During periods of adversity, it may be difficult to see the bigger picture. Seeing the gift in our struggles is not usually at the forefront of our minds when we are dealing with extreme difficulties.

Having faith in our ability to overcome adversity and remaining connected to the lesson behind it all can be a major source of strength during a crisis. Our ability to handle adversity will define how adversity shapes us. Will you become disengaged and withdraw from life or will you accept reality and learn from each experience, no matter how painful?

When life becomes hard we can become victims or we can become students. We must pause, release resistance and remain open to what adversity has to teach us. With the right attitude, we will come out stronger and wiser every time.

What is adversity?

Adversity refers to a period of time when you are faced with setbacks, misfortune or loss. It is a time when life events, either within or beyond your control, seriously affect your well-being and mental health.

When circumstances in your life begin to strongly affect your mood, mind and usual routines you are likely going through adversity.

Adversity seriously challenges your perspectives and behaviours. You may wish to give up your efforts and throw away your progress. Staying strong during adversity is hard but with the right tools, you can minimise the damage and walk through the fire with grace.

How can I overcome adversity?

Know your strengths

Become very familiar with your strong points. In every challenging situation, we have unique points of our character that will carry us through. Get to know yours and lean on them when you are facing adversity. Use them as crutches as you face a challenging situation. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate your strengths and rely on them to keep you going. Your strengths could be an ability to bring humour into every moment or simply an ability to ask for help in times of struggle. Whatever it is, gain reassurance that you already have the unique tools you need to overcome the adversity in your life.

overcoming adversity

Work with your weaknesses

Becoming aware of your weaknesses allows you to work with them so they no longer have the power to hold you back. When you look at yourself with brutal honesty you can see where you are lacking and where you fall down in moments of adversity. It is not about self-criticism, it is about self-awareness and self-empowerment.

For every weakness you define you have two choices: You can release it or employ it. You can put in the work to overcome and heal the weakness so it no longer impacts you. This is not always possible and that is perfectly fine. If you cannot release it you can integrate it. You can take the weakness and figure out how to use it to your benefit and become a stronger individual.

Improve your resilience

Resilience is defined as the ability to “be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before”. A resilient individual does not allow challenges and setbacks to keep them down for too long. It does not mean that you never fail, it means you do not allow your failures to derail you. Resilience is the ability to bounce back. It is a willingness to use external struggle to create internal strength. You can improve your resilience in one simple step: See every obstacle, challenge or setback as an opportunity. Embrace every struggle and see it as an asset. Step into adversity with enthusiasm and watch yourself grow immensely.

Set your standards

When facing adversity we are vulnerable to sinking into the lowest depths of our character. Hard times can propel you into self-pity and self-sabotage. Bad habits can resurface during trying times and you may feel powerless, or even unwilling, to overcome them. To effectively deal with challenging times you must pause and evaluate what this time is demanding of you. You may have to sacrifice some of your usual daily practices but it is worth defining your non-negotiables. Set certain standards for yourself that determine how you intend to move forward and how you intend to continue to take care of yourself. Adversity demands a lot from us but there is no time to compromise on your own well-being. Try to retain a high standard of behaviour despite the external storm and you will be much better able to face it.

Focus on what you can control

Pouring your energy into factors beyond your control will drain and exhaust you. Define what elements of your situation are within your control early on and let go of everything else. Allow whatever is beyond your control to sort itself out. Surrender control and release yourself from attempting to change things. Define where you can make a positive difference and pour all your resources into these areas only. Adversity demands a lot of energy. You cannot afford to waste an ounce of energy on what you cannot control. Examples of what you can always control are your attitude, your effort, your consistency and your own well-being.

Identify your role models

It is essential to have someone to look up to during times of adversity. You may feel isolated, alone and like no one will understand what you are going through. Having an example of someone like you who has been through a similar struggle and come out on top will be a huge source of reassurance and motivation. It is vital that you have a role model to aspire to and look to for guidance. They do not have to be directly in your life, they just have to resonate with you and be a source of inspiration to get through this tough period.

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Support is essential

Challenging times can feel very isolating. It is vital that you understand that you are supported and cared for. Do not wait for others to show up for you. Go looking for help and support. Do not be afraid to share what you are going through and be proactive about getting the help you need. Look to people you trust both in your personal life and professional life. Family, friends and your superiors will want to help and will be happy you have come to them for support.

Even with family, friends and colleagues supporting you, you may still benefit from professional support. An objective, neutral and impersonal perspective may be exactly what you need to get through tough times. Working with a digital coach can be a huge source of motivation during times of struggle. A coach can provide personalised programs that will help you to focus on the future rather than becoming weighed down by your present reality. A coach is an independent party who is invested in your growth and will direct you toward making positive changes in your life to overcome adversity and learn from your challenges.

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In conclusion

No matter the situation, you have the power to overcome adversity. It may seem insurmountable but nothing truly is. Everything is subject to change and your struggles are no different. With a few tools, some empowering perspectives and a lot of support you can make it through any challenge your life presents. Times of struggle are our greatest teachers and greatest contributors to our growth. If you are going through a tough time stay focused on how you can use your situation to become stronger. If you need support, consider working with a coach who can accelerate your progress and be a source of constant encouragement during any challenge.

Cathy Stapleton
Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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