Friday, October 05, 2007

Why and How to Deal With Adversity

Adversity: [noun] a stroke of ill fortune; a calamitous event; "a period marked by adversities"

Everyone acknowledges that adversity is a force that reveals your inner strengths and weaknesses. But, everyone also agrees that they don't want to go through it, even knowing that it will, in the end, be a beneficial experience for them.

Why?

Because dealing with adversity involves struggle, effort, time, money, trouble and worst of all, pain. And we will do almost anything to avoid pain in our lives. When you are actually going through adversity, it is akin to being on a ship on the high seas during a storm - the rain is pelting you from all sides, visibility is pretty much zero - and all that you can do is batten down the hatches and hold on until the storm is past, and you can survey the damage.

Once the storm clears, and you can see daylight again, and take inventory of what was lost and needs repair or replacing. Usually, it was something that either:
a) needed to go, but you hadn't gotten around to clearing it, or
b) something that you were holding on to, something counter to your goals and needs, that you didn't want to let go of.

In either case, it was something that needed to be pitched overboard :-)!

During adversity, fear rears its ugly head. And, in acting from that fear, you can sometimes make things worse, instead of allowing events to prune unnecessary things from your life.

What can you do for someone going through hard times?

Be there for them. Different people need different things. Some people need to retreat, others need to socialize, others need to vent. Be aware of your friends needs, and try to meet them where they are.

Listen, really listen to them. Sometimes all they need is a sounding board to help them figure things out. Don't offer advice unless it is solicited (boy, I've messed up on this on big time over the years); they will work it out in their own time. What is obvious to you, is not necessarily obvious to them right away... give it time. Once they are out of the woods, to (ab)use a cliche, they will see the trees just fine :-).

How can you handle adversity better?

By preparing for it when you are enjoying good times. By building your habits and character so that when the storms reduce your visibility, you will still have a heading that you can point toward.

Your habits (eating right, exercising, practicing your spiritual path) will help keep your body and mind in good shape to deal with what's going on with the least amount of stress.

You personality habits will help you make decisions based on your integrity and principles, not just what everyone else is doing, or seems convenient or feels good at the time. In many ways, these preparations will blunt the force of the trauma of what you are dealing with, because you do not have to think about every single decision that needs to be made ... you will be following your principles on autopilot.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said:
"If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."

©2007 LaVeda H. Mason All Rights Reserved.


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1 opinions on this post:

mks said...

Fantastic post. I love the part about just being there for someone who is facing adversity. I think sometimes people (myself included) want to "fix the problem" for the other person - sometimes just lisening is all that is wanted.