This week, we're going to cover overcoming adversity so that you can help yourself and others successfully overcome a disaster, emergency, or another critical event.
One of, if not the primary goal of preparedness is to overcome adversity. That’s because as survivors, we prepare for what Merriam-Webster defines as: “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune.” Think about it, that’s why we do what we do. So, it’s important that, in order to overcome adversity, we all first understand what adversity is, how it affects us, and how we can overcome it. Once we all understand adversity, we’ll be able to spend our preparedness time and money (two resources we have little of) more effectively.
In this episode on Overcoming Adversity for Preparedness:
- What is adversity?
- What Kinds of Adversity Might We Face and How to Deal with It?
- The Mindset of Overcoming Adversity
- Four Steps to Overcome Adversity
What is Adversity?
As I mentioned earlier, Merriam-Webster answers the question of, “What is adversity?” by stating adversity is “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune.” So, what does the answer to “What is adversity?” really mean?
Adversities are the obstacles that most people in the world face at one time, or another. Unfortunately, facing adversity is a part of our lives. The fact is that all of us make mistakes that impact us, or others. For example, just the other day, I watched a guy driving down the interstate with a propane bottle just lying on the deck of his trailer. There were no tie downs, no nothing. That propane bottle ended up bouncing off, onto the highway and set the stage for a boneheaded move that could have caused problems for others. Fortunately, no one was injured. The reality is that as I mentioned, we all make mistakes. Hopefully, though, most of us learn from our mistakes.
Overcoming Adversity is Not Always Easy
While it is often possible to overcome adversity, it isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes you can overcome adversity on your own and sometimes you’ll need the help of others. Adversity, just like Murphy can strike at any time. Sometimes when adversity strikes it causes us big problems, and other times a minor inconvenience. The truth about adversity is that we all must face it at some time in our lives. Fortunately, if we have a positive mental attitude and refuse to quit while we still have options on the table, we’ll be better off for facing the adversity as we learn from and become better due to the experience. By successfully meeting adversity head-on, we all become stronger and more capable over time.
Three Incredible Overcoming Adversity Stories and Examples Include:
Bethany is a surfer from Hawaii who was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing in Kauai. At the time of the incident in 2003, she was 13-years old. While laying on her surfboard, she was attacked with the tiger shark severing her left arm at the shoulder. Severed as in completely gone. Since then, Bethany has rallied and get married, become a mother and also planted her flag as one of the top women surfer’s in the world. Now, I call that overcoming some serious adversity.
While the exact number of attempts is unknown, it is estimated that while working to invent the lightbulb, Edison failed between 1,000 and 10,000 times. In other words, Edison wouldn’t give up and instead worked to overcome his adversity. When asked about his track record of failures, Edison replied “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Was a highly decorated US Army Special Forces officer who received the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. During his nearly five years in combat, Col Howard was wounded 14 times, awarded the Medal of Honor, which he was nominated for three times, received eight purple hearts, a Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and four Bronze Stars.
Many, Many Examples of Overcoming Adversity
The list goes on and on. The fact is our history is full of people who overcame adversity. Think about the settler’s moving west back in the 1800’s. They jumped in wagons, and headed west at 10 to 20 miles per day, into the relative unknown. They dealt with disease, hunger, and dangers they couldn’t imagine. But, they sucked it up, put one foot in front of the other and overcame some incredible adversity.
While many of us think about facing adversity, how many of you have truly thought what your own personal worst-case scenario looks like? I’m willing to bet, that if you take your scenario, sit down with others and truly talk it through, most of us on our own can’t imagine what really serious adversity could be like in a long-term disaster, post-economic collapse, or other society altering catastrophic event.
What Kinds of Adversity Might We Face and How to Deal with Them?
While there are a number of different types of adversity, I am going to focus on five specific categories of adversity. The five-categories we’re going to talk about are physical adversity, mental adversity, emotional adversity, social adversity, spiritual adversity, financial adversity.
The most apparent form of physical adversity is a physical disability, injury, or limitation. When it comes to physical adversity, think of the soldier who loses his or her legs. They are suddenly transformed from one life, into another where they’re stuck in a wheelchair and must relearn and look at almost everything through the eyes of physical adversity.
When people face physical adversity, the first step is to come to terms with the adversity, disability, limitation, or injury. So, you should accept, or help others to accept that the adversity is, at least for the moment, part of your life. Heck, maybe you aren’t disabled or injured, but just have weak upper body strength that keeps you from doing some tasks. That is physical adversity too. With physical adversity, you should expect to face difficulties that others won’t. While it’s definitely not fair, don’t obsess over how it’s not fair. Instead, learn to live with it and excel where and when you can. It’s always important to remember that no matter your situation, we all have something to contribute. So, figure out what that is and give it your all.
Mental and Emotional Adversity
As we spoke about in last week’s episode on Stress Coping (Dealing with PTSD) which you can check out by going to Mind4Survival.com/64, mental and emotional adversity may be a significant problem for many during disasters. Therefore, it’s important that we are able to identify the symptoms in ourselves and others, so we can help each other when it’s needed. Remember, overcoming adversity doesn’t always need to be a solo endeavor. It can and often should be a team effort to care for one another. Overcoming mental and emotional adversity is really important when it relates to preparedness scenarios. If someone isn’t together mentally or emotionally, they may prove to be a burden on others during times of stress, which in my book disasters and emergencies are. If not we’d rename disasters as run of the mill events and fun times.
How we relate with one another is critical to our success and survival during emergency and disaster situations. It’s our social interaction that often sets the stage for the outcome of a situation. Think about it. If someone is always argumentative, standoffish, or unreliable, how well do you think they’re going to do in a group that is focused 100% on surviving? It could tear the group apart, or cause problems when a serious situation arises and people need to act as a team. Heck, the military does so well because of the rank structure. People do as they’re told, most often without hesitation, because that’s what it takes to make things happen in during difficult times.
One of the most recognizable kinds of adversity is financial adversity. Financial adversity is when you don’t have the money to afford things such as your preparedness needs. While this is more of a pre-event adversity, it is a problem for many. Unless you win the lottery, or a money miracle happens, there’s usually no get rich quick way of to overcome this adversity. What is needed to overcome this is a plan, a budget, and the patience to move forward at a realistic pace.
Situational adversity is the adversity that impacts us on an ongoing basis. It occurs when we aren’t paying attention, aren’t ready to deal with a situation, or don’t have an understanding of what a situation entails or how to overcome it. Think about if you have little to no medical capability and someone becomes seriously ill or injured in front of you. What are you going to do? Well, over time, by practicing what-if scenarios, seeking out education and training, and finding other ways to become familiar with the situation, you’ll be better prepared to successfully overcome whatever you encounter.
The Mindset of Overcoming Adversity
When it comes to overcoming adversity, you will be forced to ask yourself some difficult questions. These questions, unless you’ve been through hard times before, may be difficult to answer. You’ll need to come to terms with understanding what you’re made of? When a situation is at its darkest when everything seems wrong and difficult, what is your true character?
While dealing with serious adversity stinks when going through it, it often results in a learning experience. After you come out on the other side, you’ll have a much better understanding of who you really are. The key to this though is personal honesty because only by being honest with yourself will you come to an understanding of how you act when the chips are down. It’s then that you’ll be able to truly know what you’re made of.
Life is a String of Problems
As we talk about overcoming adversity it’s important to know that our lives are an ongoing, never-ending string of adverse situations. These adversities manifest themselves in all shapes and sizes. Think about it, how often have you worked to overcome one problem, only to be slapped in the face with another issue a short while later? The hot water heater goes out and the next day your transmission gives up the ghost.
Our lives can often resemble a slippery slope where we claw our way forward, only to slip and slide back down the hill where we start over again. Often times we look at people who are more successful and think they have it made. However, if you talk with those people, they have their own versions of adversity to overcome. The fact is that we all get hit with small hurdles to overcome and at other times we face the Mt. Everest of hurdles that have dire consequences attached to them. The bottom line is that no matter who you are, we all face and will continue to face adversity on a regular basis.
The Reality of Adversity
The reality of adversity, especially for us preparedness minded types, is that adversity helps shape who we are. Do you recall a time where obtaining or doing something was difficult? How’d it feel after you successfully finished whatever it was? Were you proud, happy, content? I imagine you were. Truly rising to the occasion and overcoming adversity is something to be proud of. Often times, after dealing with adversity, successful or not, you come out on the other side better for the experience.
How Do We Start to Overcome Adversity?
We start overcoming adversity, especially overwhelming adversity in the moment, of any level, by first relaxing. Taking a deep breath while clearing your mind is a good way to start. Even in the midst of chaos, you can take a few seconds to do this when the timing is right. As you concentrate on clearing your mind, try to move towards a relaxed and peaceful state of mind. If you don’t already have your emotions and mind under control, work on getting them settled down. Once you're there, take a broad look at the problem you’re dealing with.
In a sense, you want to detach your mind from the adversity and look at it from an external, overarching viewpoint. When you get to this mental position, you’ll be more in tune with the situation and be more capable of analyzing your situation. As that happens, you’ll be better able to identify potential difficulties and possible opportunities so that you can minimize the former and capitalize on the later.
Four Steps to Overcome Adversity
Overcome Adversity Step 1: Step Back
As we just talked about when confronting overwhelming or difficult adversity, it’s important to take a step back and detach yourself from the situation. If you don’t you could find the situation takes control of you, your emotions, and your decision-making process. Never forget, to remain effective and improve your chances of success, you need to control the situation, or at least how you engage with it, and not let it control you. So, step back, detach, look at the situation from a broad, objective and realistic point of view.
Overcome Adversity Step 2: Accept the Situation
With your state-of-mind all set, it’s time for you to accept the situation. This doesn’t mean that whatever you are facing is your fault. What it means is that you accept that you’re in whatever the mess is and that you’re going to deal with it. It’s at this point where some people neglect to deal with a problem because they haven’t accepted the situation. Instead, they complain, whine, blame others, freak out and make excuses. Besides being a huge drag on an already crummy situation, none of that is accepting of the situation, relevant, nor productive. So, don’t be that guy or gal who becomes part of the problem, instead be part of the solution.
Overcome Adversity Step 3: Assess the Situation
Now that you’ve accepted the situation, you need to assess what is happening. Keep in mind, this can be something that is relatively short-lived, like trying to find a specific address in an unfamiliar town. Or, this could be a more prolonged issue such as your home is flooded. Do your best to gain as much information as possible in the time available. Your time availability will depend upon how soon you need to react to overcome the adversity. Similarly, the information you gather includes all sources of information to include others, your own senses, from your own mind and awareness, etc. Now that you have the information acquired and assess it rationally and efficiently.
Overcome Adversity Step 4: Take Action
As you work your way through assessing the situation, you will eventually arrive at the point of action. Now, taking action may mean that you TAKE action, it could also mean that your action is to do nothing. When taking action, if time permits create a solid and rehearsed plan. If time doesn’t permit, rapidly develop up to three choices, choose what seems to be best and go with that. Don’t get stuck in paralysis by analysis. When that happens, you stop taking action and decrease your chances of successfully overcoming this adversity.
There’s one thing to remember when taking action. That one thing is to remember that nothing ever goes as planned. Therefore, be ready to notice the need to change and adapt on the fly. In the end, the more flexible you are, the better your chances of overcoming adversity are.
Well, there you go, Survivors. Now, go out and think about these tips and what you’d do in certain situations. As you do, think through what you’ll do when first confronted by the problem ahead. Then think about your possible responses. As you do, you’ll gradually increase your chances of overcoming adversity when it smacks you in your preparedness face.
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about overcomin adversity, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared,
Thanks for Listening to This Episode on Overcoming Adversity.
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