It seems that 2020 has proven to many of us that adversity is inevitable and that some are able to flourish in trying times, while others seem to struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Those that exhibit authentic resilience find ways to not just navigate the murky waters of uncertainty, but rather transform adversity into opportunity. They see it as an essential fuel for life’s journey.
That’s not to say that resilient people do not experience the same emotions when tragedy strikes. To be human is to suffer. But people with more grit in their mental fortitude bank account take stock of their reality, quickly assess options, create a plan, and commit to a path forward. Instead of engaging in the time-wasting – and emotion-draining – activity of dwelling in despair.
If you’re seeking a few life hacks, or even simple reminders, for ways to turn adversity into opportunity, read on!
1 – Embrace it.
The first and best way to begin fighting through any life ambush is to embrace your current reality as opposed to denying it or retreating to the confines of your comfort zone. When life knocks you down hard, find the root cause, own it, and lean in. This is the first step in your battle plan.
2 - Practice self-compassion.
We all experience difficult times at some point in our lives. But we often fail to show empathy for ourselves when we are in distress. If you want to overcome adversity faster, once you’ve embraced it, the next step is to be more self-compassionate. By doing so, you will improve your emotional well-being and give yourself the confidence to rise up and keep moving forward.
3 – Master your emotions.
Emotional intelligence is critical for maintaining self-discipline. If you don’t master your emotions, your emotions will master you. The best way to become the master of your emotions is to start experiencing your emotions on a physical level. Notice what happens when you get triggered by something or someone and mentally note what emotions are arising. Being self-aware and naming your emotions are impactful ways to give your feelings less power.
4 – Make humor your ally.
Laughing in the face of adversity can be a powerful tool for reframing the narrative of your situation. Granted, this may not be an option nor appropriate depending on the gravity of the situation. It’s not about discrediting your pain. Rather, it’s about pulling upon positive emotions when you need them most. Studies show that in the face of adversity, going through life with a positive attitude helps you become more flexible in your thinking and resolution of problems.
5 – Engage in wellness activities.
Mental and physical wellness activities such as meditation, exercise, and clean eating aid in reducing stress and clearing your mind. With a clear mind we make better decisions based less on negative emotions and more on rational thought. And...well... it’s good for you!
6 – Purge the clutter.
Adversity also provides us great opportunity for purging the clutter in our lives such as pointless pursuits unrelated to our vales and goals, the silly things we think we cherish, the stuff we waste money on, and even the people that don’t have our best interests in mind. So shed the baggage and move on. You won’t regret it.
7 – Be grateful.
Life threw you a curveball? Good! Use it as an opportunity to grow and gain new perspective. Showing gratitude for your struggles defuses their impact and transforms the mind – moving from the analysis paralysis of “why me?” to action-oriented execution.
8 – Develop a growth mindset.
People who are able to overcome challenges with grace possess a growth mindset. They choose the mindset of a champion. They don’t believe that their intelligence is fixed. Instead, they embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, and learn from feedback. Adversity of any kind can be very difficult to overcome. Nobody wants to experience hardships in life. However, if you never experienced pain, you would never understand peace.
9 – Cling to your purpose.
Or find a new one. Purpose and passion are necessary weapons for the battlefield of life. They further fuel the necessary emotional connection to goals and desired outcomes. Sometimes things happen beyond your control, and that can knock the wind out of your sails. But if you’re working towards something meaningful to you, you’ll always find a way to forge ahead.
10 – Maintain confidence in your capabilities.
People who rebound from adversity begin by believing they are capable of finding a way forward. If you feel hopeless and powerless, it’s unlikely you’ll find a way to be successful. Be willing to leverage your talents – or maybe even develop new skills – then know you will crush this challenge and many more to come.
11 – Reflect and move on.
There is a massive difference between reflecting and dwelling. Reflection is done with intent. It has purpose. When adversity strikes, do the following: (1) embrace your reality, (2) take stock of resources and threats, (3) apply any possible lessons learned from previous experiences, (4) develop a plan of action, (5) commit to a direction, and (6) move forward with conviction.
Hard times present you with the chance to change course, reinvent yourself or find an undiscovered bridge that will get you over the hurdles. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, framed it this way: “Every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” The true secret to success is the ability to embrace adversity as a chance to change ourselves and our situation. In a similar fashion, my new book, Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way To An Extraordinary Life (with a foreword by David Goggins) emphasizes the importance of embracing pain and suffering in order to live a more meaningful, purpose-driven life. In chaos, there is always opportunity.
So get after it!