Embracing Adversity: Transforming Obstacles into OpportunitiesJun 12, 2023
It's a tale as old as time: things start to get tough, and you just want to give up.
However, there is a way through, and, with the right mindset, there is always an opportunity for you to make the best of a bad situation. In all walks of life, there will be obstacles that appear in your way, but you don't have to let them keep you trapped forever.
Embracing adversity is the first and most important step towards overcoming it and living a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
What is Adversity?
Anything that challenges or troubles us can be defined as ‘adversity'. Rejections, illnesses, loneliness, financial struggles, loss, and stress are all types of adversity that we will all experience one or more of during our lives. More often than not, people will experience multiple different types of adversity at work, struggling to balance them and cope.
Even common situations like your car breaking down or forgetting to put important files into your bag before heading to work are adversities because, despite seeming more like inconveniences, they prevent you from completing other tasks you had set for the rest of the day. It's easy for one small inconvenience to set off an entire chain of adversity.
Unfortunately, adversity is something that we must all learn to live with because things can't always go our way. And when large-scale, tragic adversities occur, such as the death of a loved one or a bad medical diagnosis, it can often feel like the entire world is falling apart.
Coming to Terms with Adversity and Embracing It
In order to embrace adversity, we must first be able to live with it. It's important to acknowledge your struggles and troubles because ignoring them won't make them go away. In fact, it will make them worse because they will continue to fester until they spiral out of control, wrecking your mental health. This is why speaking to someone about your adversities, whether that be a friend, relative, therapist/coach, or even a stranger, is essential to a healthy mind.
Once you have come to terms with the adverse conditions that affect your life, you can stop them from controlling it. It's natural to want to shut down or pretend that everything is okay when it isn't, but by doing that you're letting adversity win. Instead of imagining a more ideal alternative scenario, embrace your reality. Once you acknowledge that things aren't great, you'll be able to take solid steps toward changing them for the better.
Embracing adversity is all about changing your perspective. Though this is easier said than done and takes time, you should try to look at adversity from both sides. So, an obstacle has presented itself in your life. One way of looking at it is purely negative: it is blocking your way, preventing your self-development, and making you unhappy. However, another way of regarding the obstacle is as something that can be overcome or moved around.
It's necessary to deconstruct exactly what ‘adversity' as a blanket term means before you can give credence to this alternative perspective. In his well-known 1989 book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People', Stephen Covey coined three terms: The Circle of Concern, the Circle of Influence, and the Circle of Control.
In simple terms:
- The Circle of Concern- things that concern you, but that you cannot influence, so you should not allow them to take up your time.
- The Circle of Influence- things that you have some, but not total, influence over, so you should pay attention but avoid trying to dictate their outcomes.
- The Circle of Control- things that you can control the outcomes of, so you should devote all your time and energy to working on them.
Things like war, poverty and the economy are all hugely concerning things, but unfortunately, not things that the average person can influence. They fall into the Circle of Concern.
Then, things like friends' lives, working relationships, and your local community are all things that you can influence to some degree. You can give your input to the people around you, but they are ultimately responsible for making their own choices, so these things fall into the Circle of Influence.
Finally, the Circle of Control only covers things that you get to decide the outcomes of yourself. These include what you wear, what you eat, what job you work, who your partner is, whether you exercise, and what time you go to bed. When you have complete autonomy, you have complete control, and this can also be implied to what is sometimes referred to as your ‘internal landscape'.
Your internal landscape covers your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and responses. So, if adversity presents itself and it falls into the Circle of Concern or Influence, you know that it is worth caring about, but not possible to dictate the outcome of. This will allow you to save your energy for adversities that fall into your Circle of Control. When these challenges arise, you can address them and decide how you want to act based on what you're thinking and feeling.
Categorizing adversity this way will allow you to focus on the things that you can change and control without wasting time on the things that you can't. This will stop you from getting overwhelmed and make your own obstacles easier to process and manage.
How to Transform Obstacles into Opportunities
Nobody in this world is a stranger to obstacles, although some people will have experienced more of them than others.
Social and economic barriers are some of the most common obstacles that the everyday person will have to deal with in life. Take Oprah Winfrey, Link to Oprah Winfrey - Wikipedia for example. She was born to a teen mother, grew up impoverished, and went to college on a scholarship. Now, she is a billionaire with one of the most famous talk show careers in the world.
And there are endless other ‘Rags to Riches' stories that act as inspiration for anyone struggling against the socioeconomic obstacles that pin down billions of people worldwide. Not everybody will elevate their financial or vocational position to that of Oprah Winfrey, but those same obstacles dictate how people all over the world must live their entire lives.
Big or small, obstacles are an unfortunate fact of life- but how can they be transformed into opportunities?
A quote attributed to Albert Einstein, a man famed for his determination to achieve and his incredible successes, states that, "in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity". This is all about having the right mindset to take on obstacles. Often, it is tempting to give up and let the obstacle dictate the course of your life, especially if it is something that cannot be easily overcome.
And, at first, this is okay because it will give you space to calm down and collect your thoughts. Then, you can come up with a plan of where to go next.
It all starts with developing what is known as a ‘growth mindset'. Professor Carol Dweck first coined the term in 2006 in her book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success'.
Dweck defined it as "the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives". It entails developing yourself and your situation through hard work, dedication, resilience, and guidance.
To someone with a growth mindset, obstacles are not concrete barriers; they are opportunities to continue growing, developing, and transforming.
There are several ways you can turn the obstacles in your life into opportunities via a growth mindset, including:
- Focusing on a final goal- what are you hoping to achieve by transforming your life?
- Making the best of a bad situation by accepting it and working on what you can control and change about it.
- Viewing obstacles as temporary barriers on the long road to success- this makes for a healthier mindset when dealing with difficulties.
- Taking time for self-care, both physical and emotional.
- Accepting guidance and help from others.
- Trying to keep a positive attitude, while still working through negative emotions.
- Always being ready to learn and work hard.
All of this involves making a conscious decision to develop a growth mindset, no matter how long that takes. And that isn't to say that you'll instantly be able to transform every single obstacle as soon as it comes your way, but you'll be in a much better psychological state to deal with obstacles and search for opportunities in them.
The Benefits of Improving Your Mindset
Once you've improved your mindset, you will be able to embrace the opportunities that present themselves in the wake of adversity.
To develop that growth mindset and embody feelings of development, empowerment, and self-prioritization, you need to identify the areas that are most in need of improvement. Going through difficult times is normal and valid and not at all a flaw, but there are things you can do to improve your mindset and make those times more bearable.
Perhaps you find yourself getting defensive when confronted by something difficult. Or maybe you give up too easily and let negative feelings overcome you. You might not even see any point in trying to fight adversity at all. But this negative thinking isn't good for you, and it will have a profound impact on your mental health.
Improving your mindset also means being kind, patient, and generous with yourself. It's one thing to like the idea of a growth mindset and it's another to put in the work to develop one. You'll get there, but it will take a lot of self-assessment and self-empowerment before you do. Go at your own pace and try to communicate as much as possible. A trained professional, such as a therapist or trauma coach, can help you come up with a process that works for you.
All of this will help you along the way to becoming the most positive version of yourself that you can be. And though this new positive you will still be challenged by life's adversities; you will be in a much better place to tackle and embrace them. Looking for those all-important opportunities is a huge part of staying positive and prioritizing yourself always.
There are plenty of reasons why improving your mindset will benefit all other areas of your life, such as:
- It's easier to cope with stressful situations.
- It helps to keep your mood up.
- It benefits the state of your mental health.
- It lowers your risk of developing physical illnesses.
- It boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- It improves your resilience.
- It increases the release of endorphins in the brain.
- It increases productivity.
- It helps you process difficult emotions more easily.
- It allows you to visualize better outcomes and solutions to problems.
- It increases pain tolerance.
- It helps you to cultivate and keep relationships.
- It makes you more optimistic about life.
A Future Without Obstacles
Of course, there will never be a future without hardship, pain, and challenges, but we can work to make this future more manageable, at least in terms of removing obstacles. It all depends on a shared growth mindset, with everybody working to recognize obstacles, challenge them and transform them into opportunities so that society can collectively grow and prosper.
When we lift ourselves up, it motivates us to help others too. Hearing success stories is a huge inspiration when we are struggling, so it's important to share both positive and negative stories with those closest to us because there will always be someone who can relate. Sometimes, having strong support can be the difference between persevering and accepting defeat.
Writer and activist Maya Angelou, who possessed one of the most culturally significant literary voices of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, overcame horrific traumas in her own life and used them as fuel to fight for what was right. One of her most famous quotes affirms that "you may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated", and this quote still rings true today.
We all have the capacity to transform, even in the most adverse conditions. That future without obstacles is out there, so long as we keep searching for and seizing every opportunity, no matter its difficult origins.
xoxo, Megan & the team
It’s Time to Unburden Yourself and Learn How to Grow Your Mindset
Is this the narrative you keep playing in your head?
- You keep falling into the same patterns, behaviors, and habits.
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You Have the Power to Overcome False Narratives and Unlock Your Potential
- You’re ready to break cycles that have been dictating the way you interact with the world.
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You’re in the right place, and I can’t wait to witness your growth!
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Announcing the Course Giveaway Winners!!
We are thrilled to announce the winners of our course bundle giveaway! Congratulations to all the Winners for being selected as the lucky recipients of our exciting prize.
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Coming Up This Friday on It's Your Story to Tell Podcast
Verna Lewis had a long journey to get her stage 4 cancer diagnosis and was reluctant to do a hysterectomy, but eventually decided to go through with it. She then decided to pursue natural healing methods to reverse her cancer and has been cancer free for 25 years. She was brought up in the Caribbean and was taught to recognize and use herbs for various illnesses.
Verna found purpose in her cancer journey and now helps others to understand that cancer is not a death sentence. She believes that cleansing the body of toxins and changing one's diet are key to healing, as well as maintaining a strong immune system. She also emphasizes the importance of being conscious of one's decisions and the impact of emotions on one's healing.
She has created an online course which outlines the steps she took to reverse her stage four cancer diagnosis. The course includes six modules, 29 lessons, healthy recipes, private free coaching calls, and an added bonus of identifying dangerous ingredients in food.
Verna is also available on Instagram ibeatcancernaturally to provide support and guidance to those on their healing journey. We are excited to share her story with you! Learn more about her and the resources she provides Verna Lewis | Linktree.
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