Overcoming Adversity: 6 Tips for Rising Above

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Life can often feel like a rollercoaster moving through valleys of ease followed by peaks of hardship. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, an illness, or business trouble, hard times hit all of us. Some people can easily navigate these roadblocks and continue living a low-stress existence. However, hard times can cause mental health issues for others and leave us feeling stuck and afraid.

Adversity is part of life, so overcoming difficult situations is necessary for continued growth and success. You can learn to overcome challenges even if you’ve always let worst-case-scenario thinking and negative self-talk cause you to freeze and abandon ship. You can refine your ability to handle adversity to conquer more of your goals. This blog will discuss the types of adversity you’re likely to face as you move through life and give you practical tips for learning to overcome adversity so you can continue building the life you want.

Examples of Adversity

The struggles we face are as different as we are, but we can categorize adversity to help us develop strategies for overcoming it. Some difficult situations are short-lived, while others are life-long. You may experience different types of trouble at each life stage, or you may experience more than one type simultaneously. We categorize adversity in the following ways.

  • Emotional adversity – feeling rejected by others or having trouble processing your emotions.
  • Mental adversity – learning disabilities, memory problems, or other cognitive issues.
  • Physical adversity – illness or injury that can be acute or chronic.
  • Social adversity – social anxiety, bullying, judgment, relationship trouble, or difficulty making friends.
  • Financial adversity – living in poverty, losing a job, or dissatisfaction with your career.

How Does Adversity Affect People?

navigation sign with new life and old life on both ends

The way people respond in the face of adversity depends a lot on their history, the support they have, and how they feel and think about the current situation. People who possess the inner strength to deal with adversity easily may feel empowered by how they handle difficult times.

Some people allow adversity to swallow them up and make it impossible to achieve their dreams. They may want to move through the difficult situation but lack the skills and support necessary to do so. They have difficulty overcoming a major loss, life change, or other traumatic event and may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. 

Just because you struggle to handle difficult situations doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Those who use their personal growth journey to develop skills for overcoming adversity may become stronger, build better relationships, and have more self-confidence. At the very least, they can return to where they were before the experience.

6 Tips for Overcoming Adversity

Since adversity is part of being human, you’re sure to encounter it. Developing skills for handling challenges of any size will help you in your personal growth journey, and improve your self-confidence. Successful people who handle adversity well allow themselves time to process the hardship and then take steps to move through it. Most people who deal with adversity well don’t face difficult times alone, and you don’t have to either. Follow these tips the next time hardship throws your life off course.

  1. Exercise Self-Compassion

When you experience adversity, it’s natural to feel upset, sad, and even angry. If you’ve lost a loved one or experienced a life change, these feelings of grief can overwhelm you. These negative emotions exist for a reason – to teach you something about yourself, and life, or maybe to lead you on a new path. Having negative feelings isn’t a problem. It’s just a temporary state.

The important thing is that you treat yourself with compassion and give yourself time to experience the emotion without letting negative self-talk take over and cause you to wallow long-term. Spending too much time feeding negative emotions with thoughts and self-talk can lead to burnout or longer-term mental health issues.

For more on self-compassion, read this blog.

  1. Adjust Your Mindset

Your mindset determines your direction, how successful you’ll be, and how you’ll feel about thatsuccess. A positive mindset is great, but a growth mindset may be more effective when adversity strikes. A growth mindset says you can grow in any direction necessary to overcome adversity. 

A growth mindset will allow you to look for solutions if your business has a bad month financially. If your relationship hits a bumpy patch, a growth mindset will encourage you to try counseling or other means for reconnection. A growth mindset acknowledges that bad things happen but keeps you out of worst-case-scenario thought patterns and focuses on finding creative solutions to problems.

  1. Be Careful Who and What You’re Listen To
person jumping over a cliff with the word problem crumbling behind him

When you face adversity, it’s easy to find people who will tell you to pack it in, give up, and move on from the life you want to create. If your business struggles, these people will tell you to close the doors and get a real job. If your relationship with your spouse is strained, people may quickly tell you to leave. These people often project worries and fears about their own life onto your situation.

But you get to choose what noise you let in. When you’re going through a difficult time, it’s vital to keep your end goal in mind. Do you want this business or relationship to succeed? If so, you need to surround yourself with role models, mentors, and a support system that feeds your drive for success instead of telling you to dismantle your dreams. If you don’t have people in your life that are a positive force, look for motivational speakers, writers, and podcasters to follow to educate yourself.

  1. Create a Self-Care Practice

Bubble baths, spa days, and expensive vacations are beautiful ways to care for yourself, but a self-care practice that supports you through adversity doesn’t have to cost a penny. It’s a good idea to create a standard self-care practice that you use every day or every week to keep yourself emotionally regulated and tuned into your wants and needs. But you also need a toolbox of strategies you can use when tough times creep up and threaten to overwhelm you.

Your self-care may include inspirational reading, journaling, meditation, attending religious services, therapy, or getting together with your positive support system. When adversity strikes, you can add extra rest, regular calls with friends or family, therapy sessions, and other strategies that help you feel calm and centered while honoring any negative emotions you might have.

  1. Celebrate Accomplishments

When overcoming adversity, you may feel tempted to move ahead like a bulldozer to get to the other side rather than stop to celebrate incremental achievements along the way. Stopping to celebrate, however, gives you the boost in self-confidence and motivation you need to get through the next step.

If you and your spouse manage to have a discussion that doesn’t dissolve into an argument, celebrate with them or alone and be proud of your growth. If you’re managing a significant illness celebrating each doctor’s visit or any day you wake up without fatigue or pain can help you make it through the next challenging moment. Find the small moments, and use them as fuel.

  1. When it Feels Like Too Much, Ask for Help
happy woman on her computer

Many people feel like they are strong. They can navigate any trial without other people. We need other people when we struggle. Help with overcoming adversity can come from family and friends, but often they can’t provide enough support. They may struggle with their own feelings about the difficult situation you face or may have their own challenges to overcome and be unable to be the support you need.

 Seeking help from a qualified mental health professional can help you get through the challenges you face now and give you the tools you need to handle whatever life has in store for you next.

Adversity is a fact of life, and at SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, our therapists know how to guide clients through to better days. We can teach you to honor negative emotions without letting them run your life. We can give you tips for adjusting your mindset and help you beef up your self-care toolbox. We’d also be thrilled to celebrate your accomplishments along your journey. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and learn how overcoming adversity can positively impact your life.

Looking for More? 

For more about overcoming adversity, get on the waitlist for the new book, Unbreakable by Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services. The book releases in Spring 2023. It’s a story of one woman’s journey through adversity and how you can use her principles to build the life of your dreams. Join the waitlist here!

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