content='index,follow' name='robots'/> Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom: 6 Ways to Overcome Adversity

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

6 Ways to Overcome Adversity

This past week, I’ve read so many blogs with examples of how people deal with adversity and shine. Going through a bit of adversity myself at present, it has been a source of inspiration and hope in seeing how people face
adversity and walk through the fire overcoming what appears to be insurmountable odds. My challenges are in no way as great as what some of these people have faced and yet I can understand, being in the middle of it, what has to be done to keep going otherwise it will consume you.

If you’re alive, you have already been introduced in some way to adversity. It comes with the territory. From the moment you’re first born your body triggers the need to eat and you don’t get your nutrition the same way you used to through the bloodstream. Now, you have to cry for it as it doesn’t come automatically. But eventually, you learn how this works and you eventually get good at it and you get your milk.

Adversity, though it may be difficult and uncomfortable at best, can be a tool that teaches us how to operate in this world as spiritual beings having a physical body and through trial and error we learn what works. We can resist and have our temper tantrums but eventually through all of it we become our best – we become the pearl. Here are some of the pearls that are shining through adversity or have overcome it:

I can’t imagine being faced with a life-threatening disease and yet so many of you out there are doing just that with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. You’re asking us how we are and comforting us. Your light shines bright through adversity and you’ve been given divine assistance to carry your purpose through to help all of us. I watch Randy Pausch (see a previous post Passion and Enthusiasm, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, encouraging us with the Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams lecture noted to be his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon and giving regular updates on how he’s doing on his site. Randy’s conviction to live fully with love and passion is a true reminder of what is important and he doesn’t stop there. He points us to someone who has inspired him and no doubt given him courage to face his own adversity: Jim Valvano, a professional basketball coach giving his reception speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 1993 ESPY’s. Our attitudes sustain us through difficulties. If you want to feel sorry for yourself you can only do that for awhile as it never changes anything. What these people have shown and are showing us is courage to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk in whatever cards they’re dealt in this life and to help others in the process.

Marc Allen in The Greatest Secret of All-Moving Beyond Abundance to a Life of True Fulfillment shares how he took a difficult time in his life and envisioned an Ideal (Scene) Life (see a previous post on Ideal Scene and Goal Setting). He wrote down in detail what that life would look like in 5 years. He not only envisioned this life but aligned himself with the feelings as if his Ideal Life was present. He then wrote out his goals and how he would accomplish them. He kept this Ideal Life as a focus as he met each difficulty and struggled with the self-doubts. He had a focus and purpose and kept on task working through each obstacle. I remember one powerful little phrase he used over and over that he got from a book he had read by Catherine Ponder on the power of affirmations: “….in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way – repeated thousands of times, overcame a lot of those doubts and fears.” In meditation and throughout the day I repeat this phrase and use it to fit my situation. To intend to focus on what you want, feel it and replace those thoughts that threaten your well being with affirmations is powerful.

Patricia Singleton in her last post in Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker talks about her personal situation overcoming abuse. I admire and honor her for deciding when she had had enough and took action to better her life. She decided to no longer continue subjecting herself to others who were harmful and did not have her best interest at heart, even when they were the very ones in charge of her care. Our hearts tell us when the time is right and we have to not only listen but act. Sometimes, it’s immediate action we need to take as in Patricia’s case and other times it’s more subtle. A lot of times we just settle and live with the situation but in order to see any improvement or change taking action is part of overcoming adversity.

Adversity makes us most vulnerable especially at times when we don’t know the outcome. Alex Blackwell wrote a recent article in his The Next 45 Years blog sharing a personal incident with his wife’s surgery. We wait and watch in this moment of adversity and wonder if this time it won. We draw on our resources and on the things we’ve been taught and have practiced and it’s when we finally realize the preciousness of life that new hope arises. Our hearts fill with gratitude for those we love and the little things they do and we’re humbled with how fast things can change in the blink of an eye. To be gracious of the circumstances at hand and turn them over to a higher power and thankful for being blessed carry us through the unknown side of adversity.

How many times have you heard the nay-sayers say, “You can’t do that!”? I know I’ve heard it. They’re out there ready to jump on the first thing when you slip. But it’s how you react and what you decide to believe about yourself that pushes through adversity, even when you’re the only one believing it. How many things exist in our world today because someone listened to their inner voice instead of popular opinion? Stephen Hopson has a blog called Adversity University where he shares his own personal stories of adversity being deaf and pursuing a public speaker career. He also includes interviews with others who have also overcome adversity – one is coming up soon with Phil Gerbyshak with his own personal story holding onto the thought - I think I can…I know I can…

When we’re in the middle of these adversities we can be taken off balance and if we’re not conscious go into a tailspin. Thoughts, nay-sayers, evidence, fear all seem to be on the same team predicting your demise. And then, an article comes along that lifts you up and encourages reminding you that the universe always supports you gently shedding light on the limited beliefs you’ve been acting on. Nicholas Powiull in his post says, “The universe by design takes care of us, the more alignment we are with our highest joy in each moment, the easier, and more rapidly, the universe can do its job. When you think you have to push, bend, mold, and oblige things in place with force then you are missing the greatest opportunity of life.” He goes on to say, “If you want negative situations to discontinue then you must be okay with the fact that they will NEVER EVER STOP.”

The point is to not give up even in the midst of adversity. Know we are supported by a great invisible team ready to go to work on our behalf. But it’s up to us in how we respond and where we put our energy. Be determined to see it through to the end using all of your resources.

As Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accompanied by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

From the kitchen table - Pat
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Patricia Singleton said...

Wow!!! Pat thank you for your words of encouragement and the honor that you give with your words. It makes a difference knowing that I am being understood by others as we each share our journey together on this path to being. You have certainly given me good company. I have enjoyed getting to know you, Stephen, Phil and Randy these past weeks.

Stephen Hopson said...


What a delightful and well written article on dealing with and overcoming adversity! It would have made a perfect post for a meme I once had months ago where I asked scores of bloggers to write about overcoming adversity. Yours would have fitted perfectly!

Thank you for mentioning Adversity University - it's greatly appreciated. By the way, did you know that the "Last Lecture" is now subtitled? Yes, it's true and because of that, I was able to sit through the whole thing and absorb it on a cellular level.

Andrea | Empowered Soul said...

This was a very inspiring article, Pat! Here's the thing I ponder, though. Adversity can teach us a great deal, like you said - it can forge us into a shining pearl. But it seems to me that sometimes, it also tells us "This is not your path."

It's a fine line that's hard to negotiate ... oooh, I feel a post coming on! Sometimes, when the going gets tough, we need to be tough and keep going. But if we relentlessly stick to that policy, we can also end up abusing ourselves.

What do you think?


Pat said...

Andrea - thank you for your comment. Oooh, I feel a discussion coming on. I had a feeling when I wrote this that it could be viewed in different ways. I agree with you that there's a fine line but I also think that whatever direction or course of action to be taken has to be discerned individually - there's a time for being still and a time to dig in. I think as long as we're in this world there will always be the possibilities of adversity until we become more enlightened. To me, what's important is our response to this adversity and what we do with it. You are right when you say we need to keep going but you have to discern how that's working for you.

Thanks! Great comment Andrea! said...

Thank you indeed for sharing my friend. You are very insightful and I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart and to the core of my being for being exactly who you are!

Pat said...

Stephen - thank you for your lovely comments and for your support. I appreciate that you think this post would be perfect for a meme and if you decide to do that again, keep me in mind and I can submit this one. I don't plan to be in adversity very long to have a lot more to say about it. But there's always hind-sight and reflections to write a post on that are good.
I'm glad you were able to view Randy's lecture. When I went on his site yesterday I saw that it had been subtitled and I thought of you.

Patricia - thank you for your comment and you are so welcome. You deserve it as you have come so far and you have worked so hard. You are an inspiration to me and a shining pearl.

Pat said...

Nicholas at - thank you for commenting and your words of encouragement. I appreciate your wisdom through your posts and genuinely sharing who you are through your experiences.

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work said...

Pat thanks for the useful tips on overcoming adversity. It's interesting because I have used persistence and courage in my own journey for years. And now.... I'm looking at the exact point that Andrea raised. Might most if not my entire personal struggle be due to walking a path towards a less than aligned destination?

Thanks again for the stimulus to think.

Phil Gerbyshak said...

Awesome article and thanks for including mine in amongst the great ones here. This post is a GREAT way to overcome adversity on it's own. Thanks for that!

Pat said...

Phil - thank you for your comment. You and Stephen are such a source of inspiration in the writing you put out there. I'm happy to include you in this post. Thank you for Making It Great!

Pat said...

Tom - thank you for your comment and the point you make regarding walking a more aligned path. I agree with you. I think that if our paths were more aligned with our higher good and higher consciousness we would have very little adversity to deal with. Why is it, do you think, we choose the harder path? What are the ways to be aligned and how do we know that? So much more to discuss. You and Andrea bring up such good points. I appreciate your thoughts and insights.