This week I wanted to write about how you might be able to overcome Adversity.

What is Adversity?

Adversity is defined as a difficult or unpleasant situation or misfortune. In short, we would describe it as a 'Dislocation of Expectation' - something difficult or unpleasant has happened unexpectedly, now you have to cope with it and then overcome it.

We will all face Adversity in one shape or form over the next year and have probably encountered it many times in the past of varying degrees. Adversity is not something that we expect or want, so when it does arrive on our doorstep, we have to have some skills to cope with it.

Adversity could be very simple - you have forgotten to do something important and the deadline is approaching. Alternatively, it could be more challenging - the golf ball you just hit off the tee has swerved massively to the right and is now in the rough way off the fairway. Alternatively, it could be more extreme and severe and you have fallen down a crevasse and you have broken your leg. 

In all cases, you now have to come up with a strategy to overcome it.

Stage 1: The Downside of Adversity

When the Adversity first happens, our immediate reaction can be to:

  • Wallow in self-pity
  • Wilt
  • Blame somebody else or something
  • Fade away
  • Sulk 
  • Become pessimistic
  • Do nothing
  • Or in extreme die

Stage 2: Dealing with Adversity

When Adversity hits us, we will probably go into immediate 'flight or fight' mode in our bodies. We will experience a varying degree of stress, which in some cases might be prolonged. We will feel adrenaline and cortisol surge through our bodies. The expectation of what you were doing has gone wrong.

We now need to turn this situation around and do it pretty quickly.

  1. You need to stop being a victim of the situation, by adopting a positive mindset and positive attitude. See the Adversity as a temporary situation and not a permanence.
  2. That positive mindset will emerge when the frontal cortex lobe kicks in and takes over from the limbic or fight or flight part of the brain. It is about slowing down and letting logic take over. It is about calming yourself down and taking stock of the situation. It is about not responding in a highly emotional state.
  3. Take the emotion out of the situation as best you can. Try not to get angry and emotional. It is a waste of energy and you are going to need all your energy focused on a solution to overcome your adversity.
  4. Look for the positives. It is about turning that Adversity around, by looking at the positives, however small. Start to become optimistic and stop beating yourself up.
  5. Create a strategy. Stop for a moment and build yourself a plan that is achievable for you, simple to execute and realistic. If you are able, bring in other logical people to help you with the strategy.
  6. Set small goals. Start to set small goals to get yourself out of the Adversity. Do not look back in the rearview mirror at what has happened, as the situation will not have changed. Reach out ahead and work out how to achieve those small goals. Do not set big goals - they could overwhelm you. Break down the goals into small goals.
  7. Take the first Big Step. Your first step out of Adversity will be your biggest and your hardest. It will take a huge amount of energy and courage, but once you have momentum, it will be easier from there on.
  8. Persevere - do not give up. You will start to achieve and reach those small goals. You have to believe in yourself. Put one step in front of the other. Adversity will test your resilience. Can you stick at it or with it? Can you overcome that fear?
  9. Non-Pervasiveness - you have to stop the adversity becoming pervasive. Stop it from invading your life and actions. Adversity must not take over your life. You must control your actions and your life.
  10. Control the controllables. You can only control the controllable. So do not waste energy and time on the uncontrollables. You are not going to be able to change them.
  11. Celebrate - Celebrate when you achieve those small goals.

"Eat the crumbs as you go along, as there is no cake at the end."

Stage 3 - Building your resilience to Adversity

Over the long-term, you need to build up your resilience and hardiness to setbacks, adversity and stress. Factors that can influence your resilience include your family environment, personality, previous experience, maturity, intelligence, fitness, diet exercise and current family circumstances.

The three elements that are essential to building your resilience over the long term to cope with Adversity:

  1. Commitment - commit 100% to overcome the adversity. See life as interesting and meaningful. Get out of bed and overcome your issues. It will require energy. So build up your energy levels, whether that is over a short-term period of the adversity or a long period. You will need energy and with energy ill come strength. Commit to your plan.
  2. Control - believe you can control or influence your life and the adverse situation you are in. Focus on what you can control. Control the controllables. By doing that you can have the most impact, feel empowered and more confident. What somebody else is thinking is none of your business, nor will you ever know what they are thinking. 
  3. Challenge - see change and new experiences as exciting opportunities to learn and develop. See the Adversity as a challenge that you are going to overcome and not a paralysing event.

How you view Adversity and Stress strongly affects how you will succeed. You will have unexpected setbacks in the future, so start to build a resilient mindset now.

If you want some help, we do assess Resilience and provide coaching and mentoring. Contact Sandy Loder: