There is nothing worse than going through a difficult time in your life and feeling like it was a complete waste of effort. Adversity has a way of defeating us and making us feel used up. But somewhere inside, we want to be able to make sense of our difficulties. We want to make them count for something positive, that all the pain we endured wasn't for nothing.
I used to think adversity was something I had to suffer through to experience happiness. I avoided adversity, for the most part, hoping it wouldn't come. But it did. It came with a force. Ten years of mental and emotional abuse in my childhood left me feeling defeated and broken as a young adult. I wasn't sure how to deal with it. I was often angry, defensive, and in survival mode most of the time.
Along my journey, I realized something important. If I could find a way to change the way I saw those 10 years of pain and defeat, then the pain and defeat itself would change.
I found a new way. Sometimes, another perspective is all it takes to give you fresh eyes on your obstacles. Instead of my childhood being something I had to get through, I saw it as a necessary step for me to become the person I am today. Without every aspect of the experience both good and bad, I wouldn't have the capacity to be the real me, full of flaws and full of victory. Those 10 years of abuse are now something I welcome in and can talk about freely. It's now my advantage.
As you work through a difficult time in your life, keep in mind these four mind shifts that will assist you in turning your adversity into advantage:
1. Adversity Is Temporary
Our difficulties have an expiration date. We may not be able to predict when it will be over, but know that it will come to an end. Adversity is not meant to last forever. The sun will come out again to shine in your direction. Remember that.
Even people with long-lasting physical illnesses can help alleviate their pain by making a choice to see the positive in everything, even the pain. When you welcome your temporary difficulties in, they immediately get smaller and more manageable. You get clearer on what action to take next.
2. Adversity Is an Anchor
Going through difficulties humble us. It makes us assess what is important and chart a new course for our life. My negative childhood experiences were like an anchor weighing me down. Until I made sense of my memories and reframed them into something positive, they would forever hold me back.
When I cut the anchor of adversity loose and said, "No more! I've had enough of this!" was exactly the moment I freed myself from a huge burden and began learning from what I had gone through. I understood that my adversity was the breeding ground for all growth moving forward.
3. Adversity Is Your Greatest Teacher
If you allow it, adversity can teach you what you need to learn to be the best version of yourself. I changed one word in my vocabulary that made a huge shift in how I view life. I changed to into for.
Life is not happening to me; it is happening for me. Once I changed that one word, my adversity became my ally instead of my enemy. I began to use my fears as a launching pad for the kind of person I wanted to become. Now, adversity is happening for me so I can be the best inspiration I can for others and transform my mess into my mission.
4. Adversity Reveals the Good
Author Napoleon Hill stated in the classic book Think and Grow Rich, "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it a seed of equivalent benefit." The more you are willing to seek a solution, to find the benefit in your obstacle, the more you will find what's good in it.
An easy way to find the good is to practice gratitude. What are you grateful for in your life right now? I find five things I am grateful for first thing every morning. That helps me find more people and things to be grateful for throughout my day.
The Next Step
If you are ready to turn adversity on its head, remember that what you are going through right now is temporary and has an expiration date. Your difficulties are your anchor to charting a new course in your life full of promise and purpose. Adversity is your greatest teacher working for you, and the more you can see the benefit that results from it, the more positive and good you will find in it.
What better way to reach the next level of your life than to turn your adversity into your advantage? Start now!
Photo Credit: Flickr/TheQSpeaks