How to Face Adversity and Tough Times

By Herman Dixon, Author, Speaker, Facilitator, and Advisor, ThinkBigDixon

It seems adversity has the world surrounded. Virtually daily you can find news stories of disaster, personal tragedy, suffering, and loss. 

Further, at some point in your life, you will face, up close and personal, this notorious renegade known as adversity. What you do when adversity confronts you can forever change your individual perspective. Will you negatively react or positively respond? In adversity, you may find either sorrow or opportunity, depending on your approach. Consider the words of coaching legend Lou Holtz, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”

Depending on your decision to negatively react or positively respond, you will be confronted with the five distinct faces of adversity:

1) Casting blame. Often, insecurity with accepting your individual shortcomings – including an “alarming” ego – will cause you to react by casting the occurrence upon someone else. Too often this only makes matters worse for you. Innocent bystanders become “punching bags” for your unnecessary rant. In the end, as your anger about the issue grows, bitterness seeps in and the final result too often finds you losing your zest and purpose in life.

2) Running away. As human beings, we commonly try to avoid pain. Some attempt to do this with stimulants, while others might indulge in other avenues of mental or physical attempts to dull the reality. The problem with this action is that it intensifies your life and can lead to heightened health or economic problems. Displaying the “Ostrich Syndrome” of sticking your head in the sand and expecting your problems to disappear will not work. When you pull your head back into the open air, the problem is still there – most often even more intense. This leaves you facing a merry-go-round of misery and doom.

3) Denying it. A famous politician once proclaimed that a “yes” response to a question depended upon how you would define the meaning of “is.” When you are in a problem situation and everyone around you knows it, denying the reality does not benefit you. You may want to remain strong (and that is not a bad decision), but doing so will not lessen any anger, stress, and unhealthy anguish lingering in your personal environment. Denial is one of the world’s oldest escape avenues. The challenge is that it too often leads to a dead end.

4) Victimizing. Whining is not difficult. It is an easy approach; just ask poor ole Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. Things are always bad for him. He is always telling everyone, “Poor me, oh my! What am I to do?” Claiming victimization never achieves anything. In reality, it is a personal decision, realized or not, you have made to avoid accepting responsibility for the issues confronting you. You want others to take pity on you. You want them to shower you with their words of care even though you become more distant from addressing the issue at the forefront of your “pity party.” It never works and, most often, while wallowing in your pity, the situation becomes even more critical.

5) Seeking solutions. Stepping aside from praising problems and beginning to seek solutions – whether painful or not – will enable you to better face reality and move forward. Comedian and actor WC Fields once said, “There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.” No one authentically relishes seeing others in pain. However, while they may have an empathetic ear, those same people surrounding you do applaud when they view you doing something positive that either ends or lessens the trauma of your ordeal. Therefore, accept the reality of the problem, think through the situation thoroughly, and begin to create solutions so the most effective answer can be utilized. Only then will you understand that, while adversity is painful – and, at times, ruthless – it can also enable you to strengthen your resolve, develop your reasoning ability, and become a more effective you.

Adversity will always surround you and be an active combatant in the world. How you face and overcome it will determine more directly your satisfaction with the life you live. As business consultant Michael LeBoeuf once said, “Adversity is an experience, not a final act.”

Herman Dixon is an author, speaker, facilitator, and advisor. Find him at ThinkBigDixon.