When things go awry in our lives, we usually develop a mentality of what amounts to “crowd control”. We begin to operate from a defensive posture and remain there until the challenge or problem passes or we become more familiar with how to minimize its impact on our life. I would pose the question, “Is this an effective and beneficial way to respond to and deal with adversity?”
What was the last thing that happened in your life that you would classify as adversity? It could be some sort of confrontation at work or a tiff with your partner or family member. Perhaps it was something much larger like losing your job or your financial situation abruptly and significantly changing (and not it the right direction, I might add). How did you respond and begin to deal with these events in your life?
Many of us have a tendency to immediately go to the “It’s not fair!” position, so we believe we are justified in our victim mentality and feel comfortable playing the victim. When we do this, it can be easy to elicit pity from others which reinforces the idea of the unfairness of it all. The more people we can get on board with agreeing with us in our assessment of the situation, the more entrenched we become in maintaining that mindset.
Let me ask you a question. How does this mindset provide a path for you to move forward and conquer these challenges? I would suggest it doesn’t. Adversity doesn’t make you weak and frail it reveals what kind of person you truly are. This isn’t a reflection of your identity. It is a reflection of what propensities you may have and should give you adequate insight into what you may want to consider adjusting.
Adversity actually helps us to recognize the value of things in our lives. Without it we become weak and unappreciative. If there is no resistance, there is no strength built. If you have ever done any form of weight training in your life, you know that it is the resistance that builds strength and muscles.
It is the resistance of today’s adversity that develops the strength we will need for tomorrow’s new challenge. To shrink away from standing firm in the adversity is to sabotage your ability to weather the next problem that you will encounter.
It has been said that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. This is exactly what adversity helps to teach us. When things to which we have grown accustomed begin to be threatened by the woes of adversity, we more easily recognize their value and fight for them. When you have fought for something, it holds a higher value than if it was just given to you. We don’t have a right to much of anything, really. We have been groomed by a culture of litigation that presents itself as a model of living which dictates we have a right to nearly anything that enters our heads. Therefore, when adversity comes along we feel violated in some regard because our expectations were completely unrealistic.
Don’t let the short comings of our culture dictate your perspective of adversity. Nothing in life is free and we tend to give value to the things for which we have had to scratch and claw in order to get them. Being sad or frustrated that something happened is normal and perfectly healthy, but let the negativity and “woe is me” mentality stop there. Find a way for you to see how you can be strengthened by this adversity and double check to make sure you aren’t focusing on how unfair something is because you unjustly feel you have a right to it, simply because you want it.
This is tough medicine for people to swallow, me included; however, I have seen so many people unnecessarily suffer because of this very problem (me included again). Life is too short to live it under a cloud. Bad times will come and go and it is important to your emotional health to allow the emotions to exist, but let it be a place of passing through and don’t pitch a tent there.