Adversity – Friend or Foe?

There had been a time in my life when adversity felt like a punishment.

If something didn’t feel good, that meant it was wrong. It was an obstacle that stood in the way of productivity and warranted avoidance at all cost.

Now as we know, we can’t run away from ourselves. If that worked, there’d be no such thing as addiction, passive aggression, or even mind-numbing medications.

But how we deal with adversity depends on how we perceive it.

Sure, sometimes, things are pretty bad. Catastrophic even.

But not always.

Regardless, though, we all go through our rough patches. So the question is…

Can adversity be useful?

I think so. It just depends on how we view it.

Adversity – Friend or Foe?

As I write these words, I just want to make it clear that I’m not downplaying the effects of adversity. There are just some things in life that knock us off our feet and shake us to our core.

But if you look around, I think you’ll see what I see. And what I’ve observed is that there are some people out there who seemingly remain strong, conscious and even optimistic when the shit hits the fan. You’ll also see others who appear to cave over the smallest of occurrences.

Everyone’s pain is unique to them – and that’s fine.

But it does make you wonder whether or not things are as they appear – or if they appear the way we perceive them.

It helps to have clarity when we come across difficulties because it helps us learn to use the events of life wisely.

We can either use adversity as a tool for Spiritual transcendence – or we can allow it to kill us.

Adversity as a friend

Adversity can become a friend if we decide to make it one. Easier said than done, I know. But we do have a choice.

And again, I’m not saying that all circumstances are alike either. There are just some things that may take a lifetime (or more) to heal from.

But to turn adversity into a blessing, it helps to remember to be a witness. That means we can participate in life, but we can also observe it.

The art of observing involves quieting the mind, stepping back from a situation and viewing everything through the eyes of a spectator. This allows us to be objective just long enough to decide how we would like to direct the particular scene playing out in front of us.

When we ask the question “how can I perceive this in a way that will create peace within myself and therefore, my environment?”, we position ourselves to manipulate, if you will, the end result with a level of dignity, integrity, and self-respect. This is what transforms adversity into being one of our greatest teachers.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The key to facing adversity is to become curious rather than offended or intimidated by it.” quote=”The key to facing adversity is to become curious rather than offended or intimidated by it.”]

Adversity as a foe

When adversity is viewed as an enemy (foe), it creates a feeling that makes one identify themselves as a victim.

And of course, as we feel, we behave. So if we’re feeling as though we are powerless over whatever and/or whomever it is that has a hold over our perspective about ourselves and the world in general, we will act out in ways that validate the very feelings we would rather avoid.

A victim mentality keeps one imprisoned in their own self-imposed misery – and given Einstein’s philosophy that states that one cannot solve a problem using the same mind that created it – if better feelings are what we desire, then it’s time to shift our point of view toward one that focuses on empowerment.

We may not be able to change a situation, but believe it or not, we can decide how we wish to respond.

How I Assume Personal Responsibility

Although I’m not proud to admit this, I can be pretty moody at times. I’m not offended by this part of myself, but I don’t wear it like a badge either.

I completely accept it because I chose to take a step back and get curious.

Everyone feels angry, depressed and even helpless from time to time and I am no different.

However, I made the choice to get curious about what my anger was showing me. What I discovered is that anger itself can be an asset because it contains a message that’s impossible to ignore while often providing the ability to stand up for one’s self when necessary.

This is one example of how insight about ourselves can lead to clarity. It also promotes creative ways to interact with the aspects within us that need to be addressed.

While in the past I may have felt guilt and worry over anger and adversity, I now seek to understand.

This has provided me with the gifts of conscious choice and empowerment. While I may not be perfect at it since I will always be a work in progress…it’s become a useful tool in my emotional well-being.

So…the next time you find yourself in a state of distress –

  • Feel your feelings without resistance without dwelling.
  • Get quiet and observe the situation.
  • Look to gain awareness of the overall CAUSE of your adversity.
  • Ask yourself whether or not you want to contribute toward the problem or solution.
  • Suspend any further action or reaction until you’ve taken some time to think.
  • And while you’re “thinking”, engage in some form of well-being (exercise, meditation, a walk on the beach, prayer, etc).
  • Envision what behavior(s) could lead to different outcomes. This is a valuable tool in deciding how to proceed.

The Hero Within

The idea behind adversity is that we come across different circumstances in our lives that call forth the true hero within us.

It’s easy to coast through life when everything’s copasetic. But when we’re comfortable, there is no growth.

Ideally, we’ll each transcend our limited consciousness and create an environment where harmony exists, but until then, we’ve gotta deal with what is.

The what is – is – showing us who we’ve been. We may not be aware of these things because we disown the parts of ourselves we deem undesirable. But until we face these things, which takes courage, they usually show up as adversity.

Difficulties require us to go within and seek out the rejected parts of ourselves. This is how we become whole.

Unfortunately, when we try to avoid our problems, they always catch up to us. We may get past a certain hurdle, but until the overall issue is dealt with (self-awareness), the problems will continue to show up through different people, circumstances, etc – always with a similar core issue underneath.

So when it comes to adversity, curiosity is what can bring forth the warrior – the hero within.

What are your thoughts? Have you taken this approach when dealing with adverse situations in your life? Or do you prefer to run?

Want more bullshit-free wisdom? Check out my latest book “Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity).”

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Dana Gore

Author of the books "A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You)" and "Streetwise Philosophy (A Bullshit-Free Approach to Spiritual Maturity)", Dana Gore is a health and fitness professional, wellness coach, and freelance writer. Dana brings guidance to the public about how to achieve optimal health in a safe and structured manner while inspiring her readers to seek self-awareness and inner peace as a means to well-being in all areas of life.

8 thoughts on “Adversity – Friend or Foe?

  • at 7:42 pm

    Hi Dana. When I’m conscious about it I prefer not to see adversity, but instead see opportunity. When you see a foe you have two choices, either fight or run. You can’t win either way. When you see a friend, you have an opportunity to work with it and grow.

    Talking about adversity reminds me of back when I first took my business online. I a bunch of affiliate products on my website and the company said that I couldn’t describe the products like I was. My first thought was, “crap! what do I do now?” Then like you said, I took a step back and looked at the opportunity in it. I had an opportunity to figure out how to market the products online in a better way.

    That was several years ago and because of that opportunity I am consistently in the top 10 in retail sales.

    Excellent post Dana. Thanks for sharing it.

    • at 10:19 pm

      Hey Ben,

      That’s an awesome story. A great example of how to use a challenge and do something creative with it. There are opportunities everywhere. It just takes being a seeker and a witness.

      I’m so glad things worked out for you. Very inspiring.

      It’s so easy to run or fight. I know I’ve spent a lot of time doing those two things, so when I finally learned to observe circumstances and find the hidden gem somewhere, things took on a whole new meaning.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Ben, and I appreciate your message here. 🙂

  • at 3:26 pm

    Hi Dana,

    You’re really making me think here! I tend to not run from situations. I want answers and solutions. However, the way I go about it isn’t always the best. Sometimes I react quickly, others a take a moment to think clearly. One thing I do know is anything that is thrown our way and we get through it, only makes us stronger.

    Thanks for the great read!

    Hope you’re having a great week!


    • at 7:11 pm

      Hey Bren,

      That’s awesome. I’m glad this has inspired your thought process. 🙂

      I think a lot of us spent at least some time reacting to things in our lives. Then we see that maybe it didn’t work so well and we take the time to start gaining an understanding of what it is we’re experiencing as we experience it. That, to me, is where the gifts lie.

      Today, I found myself getting irritated. It was over something small, but I could feel it brewing. I sat there and remembered to observe myself in the process of getting annoyed and thought “is this worth it?” I decided it wasn’t, but if I hadn’t done that, I would have become enveloped in it.
      I’ve found if I do this with the small stuff (which happens often enough to give me lots of practice), maybe it’ll be easier to implement with the bigger stuff.

      As always, I’m glad you stopped by Bren. Hope the rest of your week is going well.

  • at 10:34 am

    Hey Dana,

    It’s dependent on how you take the adversity. Most of the people think as the foe because when we encounter with an unexpected obstacle then it feels really bad.

    But if you have the positive attitude towards the life then adversity can be your friend. It’s all about the optimistic thinking.

    Thanks for bringing something unique.
    Have a wonderful day.

    • at 12:16 pm

      Hey Ravi,

      Yep, I know all too well what it’s like to go into victim mode when the shit hits the fan. Always a work in progress on that one – and I know others consider bad things to be a curse.

      Sometimes it’s tough to keep a positive outlook, but it sure is powerful. It usually takes more of a neutral stance first if one is prone to negative thinking. More from a place of curiosity and being an observer. Then other possibilities and perspectives show up. That’s when adversity can do some good.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Ravi. I hope you have a great week 🙂

  • at 1:09 pm

    Hi Dana,

    Adversity is typically thought of as foe, but as you suggest here, it can certainly be a great friend.

    It’s all about how we react or don’t react to it.

    One thing for sure, when things go wrong, if we take your advice and remove ourselves from the negative and victim feelings… take a breath, do something healthy and “observe” what and why it has happened, then we can learn from the experience and improve ourselves to improve our outcomes.


    • at 12:19 pm

      Hi Donna,

      Yes, it’s usually thought of as a foe. And I’ll be the first one to admit that I can feel anguish when things aren’t going well.
      But I’ve learned to step back and observe. Are there other possibilities? Is there a way to turn this into something powerful? Those are a couple of the ideas that show up for me now – and that’s what helps us become warriors.

      I know you get it. You’ve been through your stuff and I know you’ve only become wiser, gentler and even successful just because you’re willing to face yourself. That’s inspiring – and a great lesson to us all.

      I appreciate your visit Donna. Have a beautiful week 🙂


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