Little Known Ways to Overcome Adversity

Have you ever wondered why some people give up at the first sign of adversity, while others take it in stride? When faced with adversity, do you feel determined or deflated? Regardless of where you fall on this scale, I’m pretty sure you would like to become a person who is energized when you are faced with difficulties.

The good news is, this is a lot less difficult than most people think it would be. It just takes a few simple tweaks in your brain on the way you view things. Going back to my original question, if you have ever wondered why two groups of people can react in opposite ways to the same circumstance, it is a result of how they are processing what is happening in their brain.

For example, think of two tennis players traveling across the country to play in a prestigious tournament that they have been aiming for all year long. When they arrive, they are told that the bags with all of their tennis racquets were lost, forcing them to play with unfamiliar equipment. Player “A” thinks to himself ‘this is just my luck’ and dwells on how unfair this is and how all of his hopes of winning are now dashed. Meanwhile player “B” thinks, ‘this is an unfortunate occurrence, but now I have a chance to really show people how dominate I am if I perform well or win with an unfamiliar racquet.’

Based on how each player processed what has happened, who do you think is more likely to perform well in the tournament? If you said player “B,” pat yourself on the back. While player “A” took what happened personally and began catastrophizing (i.e. concluding this will result in a catastrophe), player “B” accepted that things like this happen, and immediately put it into a context where it could be of benefit to him.

Perhaps surprisingly, when unfortunate or bad things happen to people, the majority of them unintentionally undercut themselves and make the situation worse. They do this by allowing these bad events to hijack their thoughts. While player “A” was consumed by “his” misfortune and how it was going to ruin everything, player ”B” accepted that things like this happen from time to time and went about focusing on what he could do.

If you want to learn how to handle adversity better, the first step is to learn how not to take bad things that happen to you personally. When you personalize misfortune, it makes you feel needlessly worse and takes you down a path of despair and hopelessness.

The easiest way to achieve this new and better mindset, is to realize and accept that bad things happen to everyone. The next step after accepting that things don’t always go as planned, is to focus your attention on dealing with the problem and finding ways it can be turned into an advantage. This second step boils down to learning how to control what you can control and how to let go of everything else.

The final thing you can do is follow this simple advice I give to all of my clients: ‘Look at adversity as your friend. It’s hard to get better without any adversity.”


You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc



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