We all face difficult times at some point in our lives. Sometimes, adversity comes in waves, with one hardship or misfortune following another. These times can change our lives and challenge our beliefs about the world.
What makes for adversity is different for each person. For example, while one person might see the loss of a job as an opportunity, many (if not most) would find it stressful.
These life-changing situations often happen when we experience a death, job loss, serious illness or other traumatic events.
How you act when faced with setbacks and hardships can be as unique as you are. But according to the American Psychological Association (APA), what you have in common with anyone else facing adversity is “a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.”
So how do we overcome adversity?
With resilience — the ability to overcome obstacles and deal with difficult, life-changing events. It is the capacity to make realistic plans and carry them out. It may require you to solve difficult problems, experience painful emotions or take action when you’d rather step back. But in order to overcome adversity, it is necessary to foster resilience.
The good news is that resilience is not a trait. This means it is not something we’re either born with or without. It’s a skill everyone can learn.
You can develop resilience by following these strategies:
- Focus on building relationships.Studies have shown that strong, supportive relationships are one of the primary factors in resilience. Whether it’s family, friends or co-workers, having role models, encouragement, support, love and trust is important to the ability to overcome adversity.
- Accept change.When change happens, especially if it brings pain or hardship, it’s natural to wish that it hadn’t occurred. But once it’s happened, continuing to fight the change only keeps you stuck in difficult emotions. Instead, try acknowledging that this change is hard, painful and unwanted. Then ask yourself how you want to live and what type of person you want to be going forward.
- Try to learn about your strengths.Ask yourself how you’ve dealt with adversity in the past. In what ways are you strong? Are you a decision-maker, able to reach out and help others? Are you optimistic by nature? Able to make others laugh? Persistent? Take time to reflect and build upon your strengths, then use them to your best advantage.
- Act.Overcoming difficult circumstances can require us to take difficult action. Even if it’s a very small step, it’s important to move forward.
It may feel as if the obstacles you face are tougher to overcome than those of others. The reality is that every day, ordinary people are required to rise above their circumstances, dust themselves off and continue on. You can do it too.