Everyone faces adversity in life; some more than others. It comes in all shapes and sizes: dreams not materializing, work problems, weight issues, declining relationships, the list goes on. Whatever the problem may be, remember, what sets us apart is how we deal with it. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are, or recently have been, facing a challenging situation. It may be of benefit to you to read the following with an open heart and an open mind to help yourself overcome adversity.
10 Steps to Overcome Adversity
1. Remember, There is a Purpose
There is a purpose to pain in life. If there wasn’t, joy would seem mundane. Allow yourself to move through a painful experience with hope that joy is on the other side. It’s so cliché, but it’s true: everything happens for a reason. It’s near impossible to see this fact while you are struggling in the mud but once you have overcome your challenge, it’s usually as clear as day. In my humble opinion, there are two purposes in life: 1) to learn lessons and 2) to help others. Challenging situations can be the precursor to achieving both.
Some quotes to help you overcome adversity and lift you up:
“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.” -Edgar Allan Poe
“It takes darkness to be aware of the light.” -Treasure Tatum
“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.” -Terry Goodkind
“Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right.” – Sherrilyn Kenyon
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” -Seneca
2. Take a Bad Situation and Make it Beautiful
There are always two sides to the coin, always two sides to a story. When you find yourself in a perceivably bad situation, attempt to look at it from the other side. A change in perspective is, most times, the best gift you can give to your anxiety-ridden soul. Look at your adversity as an opportunity to grow and live up to a higher potential than you have known.
Use your problem as a platform to see how God may be working through your life. Ask for the ability to see new paths you were once blind to. If you’re not a spiritual person, truly ponder how at peace your soul is. If you find yourself depressed, anxious and unhappy more often than you’d like, you may wish to consider making a change in your spiritual life. For there is only one way to receive peace in this world and it comes from above.
“When you look at the past without God’s eyes, you subject yourself to deception. The past no longer exists and God doesn’t linger there. However, Satan will show you whatever you want to see and believe, so you will be trapped in an emotion that cannot communicate truth, beyond what you want to remember.” -Shannon L. Alder
3. Learn to Change Your Brain’s Road-map
We get into habits and so do our brains. A negative situation triggers first a response of stress hormones aldosterone, cortisol and epinephrine in the hypothalamus and brain stem. We have no control over this first reaction to a stressor, for it’s automatic. However, the hormones then move to the more moldable part of the brain, the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex. These areas are responsible for memory and decision making and are much more under our control. (1) (2) And did you catch the word moldable? While our initial reaction is out of our control, the latter is. Your brain has chemical road maps, formed by experiences and repetition. If you’re unhappy with where your brain is taking you and your emotions, work on reacting a different way. Eventually, you can re-map your brain into a more positive thinker.
4. Think Differently
Mindful and positive thinking are powerful things. I will always remember what I read in the article 7 Habits of Insanely Successful People: Every NO answer you get brings you closer to a YES.
I keep this in mind every time I face adversity. After the initial woe is me, down and out feelings, I now smile and change my brain’s path to think, “I’m one step closer to my yes”.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. -Henry Ford
Being mindful to positively steer your emotions will boost self-acceptance and will also result in good relationships and improve your physical health. The positive emotions: “Love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe”… are all linked to long-term gains that will make a genuine difference in your life. (3)
5. Review Your Priorities
Are you obsessing? Passion often becomes obsession. Great for your venture but not so great for others in your life. Are you giving up balance to overcome your adversity? If so, you may want to rethink where you are spending most of your time.
Remember, relationships are the most important thing in life, believe it or not. At the end of the day, on your grave site it will likely say you were a husband and a father or a wife and a mother, not a CEO and an entrepreneur.
Sometimes a closed-door should prompt you to stop and review. Are you spending your energy on things that are worth it? Are you investing time in things that will bring you closer to your long-term goals? If yes, excellent! Keep at it and keep the faith! If not, you may want to re-align your daily tasks to match with your goals. Don’t spin your wheels on things or people who aren’t worth it. Life is too short.
6. Ponder Your Path
If you feel as if you are continually running into closed doors, it may be time to sit back and reflect. Is this where you should be? Every choice in life leads us to where we are now. Sometimes we make poor choices and it leads us down a path we shouldn’t be on.
“…the sorrows God sent us brought comfort and strength with them, while the sorrows we brought on ourselves, through folly or wickedness, were by far the hardest to bear.” -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island
What does your gut tell you? If you have a raw, instinctive feeling that something is off, change your path immediately. But before you do, it is the perfect time to consider scheduling a meeting with God. Let him show his wisdom and purpose for you. Remember, you are in control of your choices that lead you towards your future. Choose wisely.
7. Know That You are Not Alone
Remember always: you are not alone. You are not alone in this adversity you face. Others have faced similar situations and have persevered and succeeded! Keep fighting. Keep at it. Stay positive. It’s like Winston Churchill said,
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Not only are you not alone in the difficulty you face but you are also not alone in this world. I guarantee you can name someone whom you love and someone who loves you. And if for some reason, every relationship you have is currently on the rocks, you are still not alone. God created you and unconditionally loves you. He will stand by your side every step of the way if you want him to.
8. Confide and Connect
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and rescued by the ones that love you the most. Confide in them, explain the hurt and disappointment you feel. Psychotherapy works, in part, due to the therapeutic effect of “letting it go”. Getting hurt off your chest will literally make you feel like a weight has been lifted. Why? That’s your soul getting lighter as it gets closer to finding peace.
Most importantly confide in God. Pray. Confide in the one who rules it all. God wants to be in a personal relationship with you. It explains in Psalm 9 that God doesn’t abandon those who search for him. Next time you are worked up, relax and take rest in the one who loves you unconditionally, you’ll be surprised how quickly his peace will calm you.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to meet with God and improve your attitude, reactions and relationships opt to read each morning: The Attitude Antidote: A Whole Life Overhaul 21-Day Devotional.
9. Be Patient
The practice of bottling up emotions is only a recipe for disaster. Previously, I mentioned my thoughts on the the meaning of life. Learning patience is at the top of the learning lessons list. Things will happen when the timing is right.
After reading, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded, what has stuck with me is the fact that God loves everyone, not just me. Duh, right? What does this mean for me? It means that while God cares to answer my prayers, he also cares to answer everyone else’s too. That means I have to wait until the time is right, not just for me but for everyone. Just because I’m ready, doesn’t mean God is, he is busy working on managing the entire universe to work together.
10. Have Faith
C. S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” What does this mean? To me it means that once you’ve changed your perspective, it changes everything. Wow, I love great quotes.
If you have done the above 9 steps, all that’s left is to have faith. If your heart, mind, soul and actions are in the right place, you will succeed. I wish you the best in all you do.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” -Corrie ten Boom
Quotes found at http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/adversity?page=2
Be sure to check out The Attitude Antidote: A Whole Life Overhaul 21-Day Devotional. “It touched me personally and was such a good review of the Scripture you chose at a time in my life when I needed to revisit this topic (attitude).” -Bonnie Smith, Ground Truth Press.
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