On Dealing with Adversity

Adversity in an existential sense can be anything that one encounters which sets them back from their goals or aspirations. They are the roadblocks we all face on the path of life. I would think that most of us would prefer a smooth path with no setbacks, but obviously this is impossible no matter who you are. Less obviously though, a lack of adversity would only be good in theory, but disastrous in reality.

We as humans need adversity. It is what tempers us, causes us to grow, and is the main catalyst to develop our skills and abilities. In an evolutionary context, “adversity” would be called selective pressure, which is necessary for a life form to adapt and evolve. Without this pressure, there would be no reason to evolve and life forms would stagnate. Therefore, adversity is a necessary prerequisite for self-development. An example of this is the cliché image of the prince who was born into absurd luxury and power while being isolated from adversity. When this person must inevitably take the throne, for the first time in their life they encounter issues and situations that they can’t simply have handled for them. At this point it becomes apparent how useless they truly are due to never having the need to develop at all. That is what adversity is—a kingmaker.

The trick to not only dealing with adversity, but transforming it into a powerful catalyst for development originates in one’s mindset. If someone views adversity as something happening to them, as if the cosmos is out to get them, they resign all their power. They are implying to themselves that there is nothing they can do but expend emotional energy lamenting their circumstances. How could they do anything else when all of fate is against them? The ones who become kings are those who view adversity as something happening for them—an opportunity to hone their resolve, their skills, and to earn victory rather than having it be handed to them.

To adopt this mindset means to view yourself as being lucky to be challenged—to understand that it is not about the destination, rather, your growth along the way. Reaching the treasure chest means little with no adventure to arrive there, as we all find that the joy of being rewarded is often short-lived compared to the development of skills and character. Even more, the kicker is such that having gone through adversity means in the future, this person will be much more prepared to handle even bigger obstacles. The benefit of adversity is two-fold. Firstly, it makes you sharper and more skilled. Secondly (and maybe even more importantly), it builds an unshakable confidence, which creates momentum. It’s hard to harbor self-doubt when you’ve defeated fate itself. This is in stark contrast to the individual who believes they are powerless against fate, an entity that is working specifically for their detriment.

To actually deal with adversity means to keep emotional reaction to a minimum. While everyone feels frustration and disappointment when experiencing a setback, kings do not dwell on these feelings or attribute to them undue importance. To mope and dwell means to expend energy on worrying rather than actually solving the problem. It takes a developed introspective ability to determine when you are defeating yourself through unproductive emotional expenditure, but there is a powerful trick that can be applied to every situation. When faced with adversity, ask yourself, “Do I have the power to change this situation?” If yes, identify that change and make it happen to the best of your ability. If no, then don’t worry about it as it is outside of your control anyways. This way, your energy is always directed towards productivity rather than self-defeat.