Life is hard, especially when you must deal with adversity periodically. However, that’s something that everyone must deal with at some point. If it’s handled correctly, it can make you stronger but if it’s handled incorrectly, it can be debilitating.
The good news is that most people make it through these hard times and come out as a better person on the other side. They are stronger, wiser, and more motivated than ever before. It may seem contradictory but, as counselors explain, going through hard times makes you stronger. Here is what they had to say about it.
What is Adversity?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune. It is something that may rock your world and shake you to your core. Think of the term as obstacles that pop up in your life which are hard to overcome or hardships that seem almost impossible to face.
Hard times are relative. It can be different from person to person depending on socioeconomic status, cultural differences, gender, religious beliefs, and more. For example, a person making $100,000 per year is not going to have the same financial hardships as a person making $20,000 per year.
Types of Adversity
Since people face different obstacles according to the factors mentioned above, it makes sense that there is more than one type of adversity. Financial was mentioned in the above paragraph. Here are five other types:
Everyone is going to face some adverse situations in all these categories at some point in life. A rich person will have financial hardships, but not like a poor person. The rich person may have tax problems while the poor person has bill problems. An athlete may experience a physical injury which can be detrimental to their career while a person who is not in shape may begin to have physical health problems that are detrimental to their life.
The Worst Type
Out of the six types, mental is the worst. When you think about it, no matter which category your difficulties fall in, there is going to be some mental effect from them. Some people crack under pressure while others thrive. This is completely mental (with a bit of emotions thrown in).
In a sense, you could say that mental difficulties encompass all other difficulties.
Your state of mind directly impacts how you handle hardships. This does not mean that you can’t overcome obstacles with a weak state of mind, it means that it will be harder for you to do so. You might need a little help to get through it.
Whether you have a strong state of mind or a weak state of mind, the result will be the same. Life challenges, when you overcome them, contribute to you being stronger. However, you must overcome these challenges to get there. The next section tells you how to do it.
Ways to Overcome Adversity
According to the author and psychologist Diana Raab Ph.D., the best way to overcome difficult times in life is by keeping a balanced state of mind. She suggests that a person should become more resilient to get through the difficulties. You do this by embracing the hardships and making a choice to get through them. Resilience a lifestyle, not something that you sporadically “do”.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is a term that you will often hear when discussing ways to get through life’s struggles. Amit Sood, MD, the executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency and Well-Being, defines resilience as a person’s ability to withstand adverse situations, bounce back from them, and grow. Before you can get stronger from hardships, you must first have the resilience needed to withstand them.
How to Build Resilience
It seems some people are just naturally resilient, but their level of resilience took time to build. It takes time, strength, practice, and dedication to build resilience. And it is never too late to start building it.
There are a several ways, which may be better referred to as skills, to build resilience. However, keep in mind that resilience is only a tool. You can’t put it into action until hardships come around. In that sense, it’s almost like a catch-22 – you need resilience to get through hard times, but you need hard times to build resilience.
A few of the best skills needed to build resilience include:
- Taking care of your mental and physical health
- Nurture yourself, especially when you are stressed
- Believe in yourself and your abilities.
- Develop excellent problem-solving skills
- Have clearly established goals and work towards them every day
- Be an action person, not a reaction person.
Going into detail about these ways to build resilience is so much information that it would require a whole other article. However, think of these skills as barriers or support systems for resilience. The stronger these skills are when hardships hit, the more they will support your resilience from breaking. They are the building blocks to beating adversity.
Now that you know how what it takes to get through life’s difficult times, you can get to the silver lining of those difficulties. At the end of it all, you will find that you are much stronger than you were when the difficult times started. You have built up your resilience much like you build up your immune system. When the next hardship comes around, you are ready, and you might be surprised at how well and how fast you handle it.
There are three areas that you grow in when you face and conquer adverse situations in life (there are more than three, but for this article we will focus on these three). These areas are self-efficacy, the way you view stress, and post-traumatic growth (PTG).
Self-efficacy is your capacity to believe that you have what it takes to conquer challenges. Getting through challenges reinforces your belief in yourself. You improve your “I can do it!” attitude.
Many situations in life are more easily handled when you believe in yourself. It may seem like some simple, abstract concept, but it has been scientifically proven that a high self-efficacy makes you stronger and helps you deal with the lemons that life gives you.
Psychologist and Stanford University professor Albert Bandura first coined the term. He stated that people with high self-efficacy approach adverse situations with the mindset of figuring out how to solve them rather than worrying about what could go wrong. In other words, the more you make it through adverse situations, the better you become at solving them.
How You View Stress
You have probably met a person who does not handle stress well. You’ve also probably met a person who handles stress like a champ. You can bet your paycheck that the stress champion has had a lot of practice dealing with stress.
One of the keys to dealing with stressful situations is to view them as a challenge or a goal, not a disaster. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but getting through adverse situations is how you put that into practice.
As you navigate through stressful situations, you will begin to see them as opportunities for growth rather than problems. When you can view stress this way, you can consider yourself a mentally strong person.
Most people have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but have you heard of post-traumatic growth (PTG)? Think of this as the opposite of PTSD. Instead of crumbling after a traumatic experience, some people experience a transformation in which they morph into a better version of their previous self.
This theory was developed by psychologists Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D., and Lawrence Calhoun, Ph.D. They theorized that people begin to appreciate life more, to find more value in life, to find more satisfaction in helping others, and much more. They flourish into a person who stops to smell the roses and even grow a few.
This may sound a lot like resilience, but it’s not quite the same thing. Resilience is the ability to bounce back while PTG is what happens when you bounce back. Being resilient can lead to increased PTG.
No one likes hardships, but it’s the hardships that make you appreciate the good times. Difficult life situations define who you are. They show you what you’re made of. They make you stronger.
Whenever you are hit with some devastating life situations, it may be hard and stressful, but remember this information you have read. Go into it knowing that you will be better and stronger when you come out of the other side. In the words of the famous Napoleon Hill, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”