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.
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.
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?
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