Does it ever seem like you have more adversity in your life than other people do?
As if everyone around you is having an easier time of things than you are?
You begin to feel sorry for yourself and think, “Why does this stuff always happen to ME?”
It seems as if even though you continue to endure punch after punch and still keep your feet under you – life always has another crushing body blow in store for you.
Every time you take yet another beating, persevere and turn a corner… someone is waiting around that corner ready to crack you over the head again with a sock full of pennies.
We’ve all been there. Myself included. And it’s awful.
When you’re hit over and over again with these challenges, it’s easy to let yourself start focusing on everything through a lens of negativity and start to believe that you’re picked on, victimized, or unlucky.
But what if I told you that just the opposite could be true – that you can choose to exploit adversity to your advantage?
Why It Feels Like the Universe Has Turned on You
I’m no different than you, really. I mean, we all experience setbacks in our lives – and although they may differ in specific ways, they affect all of us similarly.
In my adult life, my family and I have had to directly deal with:
- Childhood death
- Financial disaster
- Frivolous legal proceedings
… and several other unpleasant events. As a matter of fact, now that I look at that list, I’ve had to deal with most of those things more than once.
If you’ve ever been through those types of trials… if you’ve ever felt the fear of being within days or weeks of losing something (or everything) that’s important to you – then you know all too well what it’s like to be smothered in a blanket of hopelessness.
It’s dark and terrifying – and makes you feel as if you have a cold lump of lead where your heart should be.
When you go through something that serious, it’s easy to focus on the negative and totally gloss over the hidden benefits that live deep below the smoldering, ugly surface of these types of trials.
But when I look back at those challenges, even though many of the events are sad to relive, I actually get an overall feeling of pride for having overcome them.
Why do you think that is?
Why Wallowing Is Not the Way Forward
When a setback occurs, you have two choices. The first one, the easier one – is to wallow in it. In other words, to stew in the negativity. To set up shop in a negative mental place and think about the negativity all night and day.
As natural as the reaction may be, wallowing in and resigning to the negativity is a horrible choice.
Because when you believe that everything is negative, you invite all kinds of nasty, destructive thoughts and attitudes to nest in your brain.
When you wallow, you inevitably wind up feeling like a victim and assume that all you can do is take the beating life is giving you. When you allow yourself to exist in the victim role, your whole outlook revolves around being helpless.
There are always positive lessons to be learned through the pain.
Over the years, my own personal challenges have taught me that each and every adversity brings an incredibly powerful opportunity to greatly accelerate your growth as a human being.
Under the surface of every setback lies a massive treasure of experience and enlightenment…
…if and only if you are resilient enough to ignore every instinct you have to curl up and quit.
How to Turn the Tables on Adversity
Although you can’t erase the negative aspect of a particular negative event, you can extract a ton of positive benefits from negative events by changing the lens you’re looking through and taking a different view of the situation.
I’m not preaching some touchy-feely rainbows and unicorns theory here. Life is going to punch you in the jaw sometimes… and it’s going to hurt like a mutha! No amount of positive thinking is going to change that.
But there is a lot of positive power to be taken from that pain.
Let’s face it: pain is going to be present in your life whether you like it or not. The opportunity here, though, is to realize that you have the ability to take a situation that outwardly looks exclusively negative – and use its own strength (pain) against it just like a martial arts practitioner does.
You can use that experience to become a stronger, more confident, more resilient person. Or, you can let it drain you of all your hope and energy. The choice is yours.
So even though you can’t choose whether or not bad things will happen in your life or not, appreciate that you have complete control of how it affects you.
Pain will rear its ugly head. It’s what you choose to do with it that counts.
As someone who has been through hell and back (and survived) – you have special gifts and knowledge that people who fold under pressure can never hope to acquire.
Adversity brings pain and pain leaves wounds. Wounds leave scars – and scars are nothing more than thick, tough skin. Like armor. Armor that makes you more resilient and tolerant to future pain.
Wear your scars with pride. They’re just thick skin that you’ve earned by stepping into the fight.
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When you learn to stare adversity in the eye with a “bring it on” mentality, pain takes on a new shape and meaning for you. Life becomes less scary and random – and you feel more in control.
Be Proud of Your Scars
As life brings you trials and adversity (and it will) – remind yourself that you have more control than you might realize. When negative events occur – you can’t erase them or negate them. But you can use them to become a stronger person.
Whining, complaining, playing victim, seeking ways to be upset and fragile — those are the crutches of the voluntarily enfeebled. They’re not for you.
It is a privilege to fight and struggle. It is the pain – the acceptance of the pain – and the getting over the pain that makes us grow. It’s what makes us and valuable and unique.
“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.” ― Ovid.
What About You?
What negative experiences are holding you back? Which have you already overcome? Let’s talk about it down below…