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6 Epic Lessons You Can Learn From Serious Adversity

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At different stages of our life, we are all going to face some sort of serious adversity whether we like it or not. The adversity will come when you least expect it so knowing how to deal with it is key. To be able to deal with adversity you need some strong references and an understanding of the advantages – this is what I will give you in this article.

I have gone through many adversities in my life and each time one happens, I use previous experiences to be able to deal with them. The strange thing for me now is that I actually love adversity. It’s a sign from the universe that things are about to go really well for me.

When your life gets tough what are you going to do about it? Are you going to spend all your time sulking and focusing on what’s wrong or are you going to build a bridge and get over it? It’s this decision that will determine your success.

I can promise you that if you learn how to deal with adversity then not only can you help yourself, you can serve others in a way you have never done so before. You can become that shining light that everyone want’s to be around. You can achieve levels of human endurance that have never been achieved before.

You can change the world with a new idea or a new technology. Don’t be afraid of adversity, welcome it, understand it and know that everything in your life is temporary. Work on yourself, work on your mind and start to develop a new set of beliefs that are going to empower you when you are faced with adversity.

So let’s get into it. Here are six epic lessons you can learn from serious adversity.

 

1. You’re about to rise up from nothing

Up until this point, you may have been just barely getting through life and not really knowing what your purpose is. When adversity hits (and I mean serious adversity) everything changes in a single moment. Suddenly you stop forgetting about how your hair looks or what you are having for lunch.

Suddenly you are forced into survival mode and the mental patterns that you have learned over the years are disrupted. Adversity is the best thing that has ever happened in your life. It means that you are going to rise up because you will be forced to become stronger.

No longer will you just drift through life because adversity will make you rethink everything you have done to date. It will make you ask yourself what your purpose really is. It will make you ask yourself whether you are really happy.

If the answer to both of these questions is not what you hoped for, that’s okay because you now have an opportunity to change it. You now have some space in your life as you deal with adversity to come up with another strategy for how you want to live going forward.

Know this, if you allow adversity to empower you, and you take the positives from it, you will rise up amongst everyone else like you never have before. You will walk, talk and act in an empowering way. You will achieve your purpose and your goals, and it will be all thanks to your new friend adversity!

 

2. Until now things were too safe

One of the reasons I believe adversity comes into our lives is because it’s a sign that things were too safe. Without some sort of difficult situation, the fact is that you’re not going to change, and you are going to keep doing what is comfortable.

The world wants more from you yet you have been ignoring the signs, so hopefully adversity is your new wake up call.

“Being comfortable will never allow you to live your wildest dreams, and you will just waste this one chance at human life that you have been given”

Stop kidding yourself about what you have done before; it’s not the most that you can possibly achieve! Let adversity allow you another chance to do what you do and go up another level.

 

3. You deserve better

Depending on the type of adversity you face, often we can realise that we deserve better than what we were accomplishing before. Sometimes it is really hard to know if there is something better out there for you because all have known up until now is what you have already got.

The brilliance of adversity is that it makes you think to yourself that you deserve better and that you don’t want your life to reflect the tragedy or pain that the adversity has given you. Sobbing for an extended period of time is not going to get you what you want. You deserve better so stand up tall, visualise what you want and go get it!

 

4. What the adversity means will shape you

If you break adversity down into what it really does at the most basic level, it allows you to change the meaning of the difficult situation, and of your life, at the same time. This is a double-edged sword because you can either get major benefits or serious downsides.

The outcome will come down to one very important thing, what the adversity means to you and how you interpret it. By looking at it from a positive lens, it can shape you for the better. It can be the catalyst for you deciding to do something new or starting a new business.

The challenge is that seeing the good from adversity can be quite hard to do. Just remember that if you see adversity as a bad thing then you will only have pain to deal with. You don’t want pain do you? Great, so then you only have one choice and the decision has already been made for you.

This adversity is the best thing that has ever happened to you, and you are going to do amazing things with the new opportunities it presents – trust me.

 

5. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it

There is another important lesson to learn from adversity; you can’t change it. No matter how hard you try the adversity has happened and it can’t be erased. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not going to come from nowhere and throw a grenade at it for you.

So given that there is no way to stop the adversity from happening, the only thing you can do is learn from it. In very difficult situations, the lessons you can learn are far greater than the lessons you will learn from normal everyday situations.

While you still need everyday lessons too, the lessons you get from adversity are far greater and have the potential to massively change the way you are, and your future results. By looking at any great startup success story, almost always, there was some type of adversity that sparked the decision to start a business. Maybe adversity is the push you need to get into action.

 

6. It’s time to re-focus and do what matters to you

Adversity is a forced way for you to refocus. You have no choice but to change what you are currently doing. Often distractions will stop you from staying focused on what you love doing. When you face a serious adversity, you often take a break from work to deal with it.

It’s during this crucial break time that you get a chance to breathe and think about the adversity or person involved in the adversity. Your brain will spend time recalibrating itself, and the neural pathways will change in some way if you let them.

During this downtime, you need to spend time thinking about what matters to you. Chances are the adversity is going to help you do this anyway but just make sure you’re conscious of it. If during this time you discover that what matters to you the most has been neglected, then that’s a great lesson, because you now have the chance to rectify that going forward.

Each day, if you are not doing what matters to you the most, then you will be very unhappy, and that’s no way to live this one life you have been given.

“Don’t think about the time you have lost, but instead, think about the time you have now gained thanks to this opportunity to refocus”

You were put on this planet for a reason, and adversity is only going to help you live your purpose and take charge of your life once and for all. Assuming you got this lesson from adversity, no longer will you wake up late and be uninspired or settle for second best ever again – you’re too important to the world!

 

***Final Thought***

I hope this article has helped you see some of the lessons adversity can give you. From now on I hope that you will look forward to adversity and know that there is a change coming. It’s a big one, and only the bold like you can face it, and overcome it.

Don’t ever let others tell you that this adversity means your life is going to be worse than before – they are wrong, and you’re smarter than that. During this difficult time, go back to the basics of self-development and you will have all the tools you need. Tools like visualising, looking at your beliefs, setting your goals, consuming empowering content and just taking a break, will serve you well.

My buddy Joel Brown has been dealing with some adversity recently and showing immense resilience, so show him some love on his Facebook or Twitter pages by leaving him a comment.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Toño

    Dec 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Introduction to this atricle is just excellent, I remember reading it some time ago and today I decided to get back to it once again.

    For some strange reason I can say I actually enjoy adversity myself, and it feels rather sacry sometimes, because of the strength it can provide if you can, so to speak, traslate it right. This summer I burned my legs to the point I wasn’t able to walk for a week. The pain was out of this world really, the most terrible physical feeling I ever had, but it did change my mind and I saw different perspective of life and things I took for granted.

    Despite all the pain, there was a moment when all my fears, doubts and even my ‘little’ depression have gove and I felt happiness inside. It was an unusual way to clear my mind but it actually helped. I realized I do not want to die (at that point I thought I quite might) and neither I will enjoy an opportunity to lose my both legs. I realized I want to enjoy the life, my family and experience all the things I haven’t yet. And when I couldn’t go for a walk with my sister and dogs I realized how cool it is to just be able go outside and breathe that fresh air!

    Thus so called ‘terrible’ experience often come to our life to remind we have a life to live & enjoy, and time is the most valuable currency we have.

    Right now I’m going through different, huge emotional pain that happens at my job, and I feel like I cannot escape it and just have to surrender. Not sure if I can get through, but what I am certain if I can, I will greatly benefit from it. Just need to find a fuel to go forward and make the best out of it.

    Thank you so much, Tim, for this peace of help, I appreciate your time and your desire to share your experience with us. Today I felt like I did a wrong decision, but thanks to you now I can turn it into the right one, as you said, to shape me for the better, instead of punishing myself learn from it.

    My apology for quite long response, stay well and have a great day!

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 1:30 am

      Toño glad you like the article. I have also burned myself before too and the pain is unbearable. Don’t apologize for the long response it means that you are trying to share something valuable. I am sure your job will get better so don’t despair. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to start your own business and add value to others instead?

  2. Julio Zurita

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Tim I would like to thank you for this amazing article it really inspire me a great deal thank you so much

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 6, 2015 at 1:48 am

      No problem Julio I am glad it gave you some inspiration!

  3. Evan

    Dec 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Tim!

    This was the most relevant and timely article for me right now, and the best one I’ve read from you man!

    Thank you for the awesome advice. You’re right about the reactions, adversity is like the past; the only way we can change it is by changing how we feel about it.

    Lately I’ve been going through some of the hardest struggles I’ve faced so far as an entrepreneur. I’ve made sure to refocus my priorities onto all the things I’m thankful for and remind myself daily what I’m working for and who I’m becoming.

    No struggle no strength!

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 6, 2015 at 1:48 am

      Glad you got something from it Evan and all the best with your entrepreneurial endevours!

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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