Dealing with Adversity – I’m writing this because I led a charmed life until I was 50 years old and then, all hell broke loose. For the past 13 years (yes, I’m 63), I’ve been dealing with business loss, family loss, financial loss and stress like I’ve never had before, life-threatening and life-changing illnesses in family members, and family dysfunction. Every aspect of my life went from joy-joy to stress. Yet, I keep persevering. My adversity is nothing like what many people are going through, so I don’t need sympathy – I’m still healthy, alive, and I have my family. I wanted to share some thoughts about going through adversity and hopefully getting to the end.
This sounds trite and cliché, but it’s important. It’s also very difficult. When you are working hard to turn things around and it just doesn’t happen, it’s difficult to wake up yet another day and be positive. Some days, I have to work very hard at this. When I tell someone else, who is going through the same adversity, it gets to sound old after a while. Saying, “We have to be positive because things will change.” for months in a row, gets tired, especially when things don’t seem to change. However, this the only way I know to cope. If I lost my faith that things would change, I’d lose all hope and that would be the end. Keep reminding yourself, “Keep the faith and stay positive – everything changes.”
Don’t attack those in your boat.
It is easy to lash out at those closest to you – proximity is dangerous. Unfortunately, they’re going through what you are, so it only makes it more difficult for you and for them. We all go through various degrees of adversity and when someone decides to dump all their grief on you by attacking you, it only makes it worse. Listening to someone’s grief is important – they need to get it out and need someone to listen. It’s not easy, though, when that person is in your boat and you are dealing with the same adversity – especially if you don’t have someone to listen to you. As a Facilitator, my job is to actively listen and remain neutral. That’s great, when I’m being paid to do my job or when I’m not in that boat, too. It’s impossible when it is affecting me at the same time – I’m involved, like it or not. Blaming, attacking, and ridiculing go too far and just makes the situation worse. Hold on to those in your boat and be each other’s life preserver.
Try something new
In business, especially when things are not going well, continuing the same way generally doesn’t help. Look for other ways to bring in clients and make money. All of my major changes in business: creating FoCuSeD™, developing on-line classes, learning how to work social media, writing more, etc., were ideas that I initially resisted because, “Let’s keep doing what works”, but realized that I had to change something. All of these changes have helped me stay current and creative. So, if all else fails, try something new.
Stop asking, “Why is this happening?”
Most people look for reasons as to why this is happening to them. Theologians spend their life trying to answer this question and asking “why?” about the meaning of life is a valuable question for all of us to contemplate. However, asking, “why is this happening to me?” just makes the situation worse. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people with little or no rationale. Looking for something you did to deserve this is not only unanswerable, but it also makes you a victim. I believe in Karma, over the long term, and always try to do what’s “right”, like most people. However, accepting the fact that “shit happens” can help keep you moving because it helps keep you in charge instead of being a victim. So, stop asking, “Why is this happening.”
Don’t blame others
Problems are caused by a lot of reasons, some brought on by what others have done. Whether it was malicious to you or just thoughtless, blaming them only allows them to make you the victim. That goes for you, too. Blaming yourself for doing something “wrong” doesn’t do any good – it still makes you your own victim. Being a victim doesn’t help change the situation. Whenever I blame someone, I’m giving them power over me. So, instead, I’ll distance myself from those causing me problems. I don’t need to be around them, but no one can do anything to me if I decide not to allow it. No one can stress me out unless I allow it. Keep the power in you and don’t blame others.
Don’t become bitter
When we deal with adversity, we learn things. If what we what we learn makes us bitter, “I’ll never …!”, that can cause us to miss out on future opportunities. I don’t want to be naïve, so I will learn to protect myself, but not at the expense of becoming so angry that I lose sight of what’s good in my life and lose future opportunities. Don’t become bitter. That leads me to…
Remember always to be grateful
I’ve been dealing with lots of difficulties and sometimes it’s hard to remember what’s gone well. My son almost died because of Western medicine, so we found a way that saved him. He is the most remarkable success story for what happened to him and is 95% back to where he was heading to 100% – plus we all learned a lot. That’s amazing and I’m forever grateful. We lost a great deal of money, but never lost our family – money is replaceable. My wife and sons, Millie, Alvaro, and Sean, are all here, healthy, and we are very close. We’ve supported each other constantly throughout all of this. We are best friends. We can always count on each other. That’s amazing and I am very grateful. We have our health and are able to do what we need to do and I’m very grateful. This helps me remember, that no matter how difficult it gets, I’ve got some amazing things to be grateful for. Always remember to be grateful.
We deal with adversity differently
There is not a “right” way to deal with adversity. There are a lot of suggestions and clichés, but each of us copes differently. Harassing or ordering someone to be positive or pick themselves up, or whatever, doesn’t help. Setting an example helps sometimes, but don’t expect anyone to just jump up and follow what you do. Being patient is important, although sometimes difficult. We all have to figure out how to cope for ourselves. The only justified interventions are when the coping mechanism becomes destructive, such as drugs and alcohol. We need find what works for us and keep it from becoming destructive. Just remember that what works for you, does not work for everyone. We deal with adversity differently.
Those are some of my thoughts about dealing with adversity. Adversity is difficult, but it also helps us grow (I know, cliché but true). Remembering that how we deal with adversity says more about us than overcoming adversity, although that’s nice, too. There is always adversity waiting for us around the corner, but then, there’s another corner after that, so how we deal with adversity gives us tools for the next time. I wish y’all well and hope you find your ways to deal with adversity.