Adversity Introduces Us to Ourselves

By: Coach Julie Hartman

I recently had brunch with friends, and behind the counter, they have a big machine that makes fresh orange juice. It’s one of the most delicious things they make and a must-have during each visit there. The oranges are put into this contraption where they are tossed around and then squished through a funnel to be squeezed. Their sweet, tangy juice can only be extracted and enjoyed from the external pressure placed on them. It’s the same with the coffee I mindfully enjoy each day. The coffee beans are punished by a whirling blade while they are ground into a powder, then flooded with boiling water to become the glorious thing they were meant to be, a delicious cup of coffee.  Through difficulty, change, and pressure comes something good. If oranges and coffee beans could talk, they might disagree, argue, and go into avoidance before their transformative moments of adversity. We, humans, do the same. Fortunately for us, we have the higher functioning ability of reflection and retrospection. After the pressure point passes we’re able to find the meaning, advantages, and inner resilience that got us to the other side of it. This is how we discover what we’re made of. Do we shrink, run away, and try to hide from the hard stuff, or do we rise up? Adversity introduces us to ourselves –  to our internal grit and substance.

Adversity is the gateway to empowerment

Unpleasant and difficult as it may be, the friction of challenge opens the door for change and growth. The juice is in the contrast between what is compared to what we want. Self-awareness, problem-solving, persistence, and resilience are all developed and discovered through actual lived experience. Adversity is the gateway to empowerment.

Every product that improves our quality of life from automatic car windows that don’t have to be hand-cranked to smartphones and wireless earbuds came about because of some type of issue or problem, aka adversity. The entire Empower The Learner model is based around honoring and supporting the adversity many kids face in their learning.

The things that aren’t working inspire and drive the desire to create something that works better! Positive change is the result.

Coach Julie Hartman

You may not be old enough to remember cars that don’t have windows that move at the touch of a button, but I’m sure you can recall plenty of times when a difficult situation came your way and you were forced to look inside yourself for answers and choices.  We can’t hide from ourselves anymore than we can run and hide from adversity. It’s part of life.

Hardship and challenges require problem-solving and a willingness to overcome.  Sometimes we bump up against the question, “Why me?”.  This question doesn’t leave much room for growth. Instead, it limits our mindset to reasons justifying why we’re disadvantaged and discouraged at the moment. Discouragement is bold.  It’s always ready and waiting to wreak havoc like a parasite.

What is the quality of the question?

What if we asked different, more empowering questions in the face of adversity? What if we taught our kids to do the same? We all have strengths and weaknesses to work with. We all have obstacles to overcome. The adversities we face help us discover ourselves, who we currently are, and who we can be.  

If we’re willing to ask different questions, we may be pleasantly surprised by the answer we get.

For example:

What can be improved?  vs. Why me?

Is this situation temporary or permanent?  … obstacles are temporary, quitting is permanent

What am I afraid of?

What do I believe about myself and my abilities?

Are my decisions coming from discouragement or resourcefulness?

What is the message in the mess?

Am I a victim or a victor?

How am I allowing this moment to define me?

What are the benefits of adversity?

Here’s a short list:

  • Determination
  • Grit
  • Confidence
  • Resilience
  • Trust
  • Faith
  • Belief
  • Ingenuity
  • Innovation
  • Resourcefulness

In challenging times, there are always choices to be made and inquiries to be explored, even if we’re feeling defeated, embarrassed, vulnerable, or weak.  Who will you decide to be next time you fall down and have to get back up? How will you support your kids when it’s happening to them? What will it take to spark the inner strength to try again?

You can do it!

Graphic of person jumping over chasm with the word

Adversity can feel very personal and isolating. It’s a sign of strength to ask for and offer help when needed. Let’s commit to supporting one another.

In support, offer you one more question and an affirming statement, both designed to help reinforce problem-solving, resilience, and optimism during adversity:

Question: What’s one thing I can do to help you/myself through this?

Affirming Statement: “I will be okay, no matter what.” (repeat as necessary)

I may not know you personally, but I do know something from my own struggles with adversity.  There is absolutely always ONE thing you can do to help yourself or another, and you will definitely be okay (most likely even better), no matter what! 

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