Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is Adversity a blessing or a Curse?

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There's an old adage, that suggests; that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I'm not entirely convinced that all trouble and strife is heaven sent to strengthen our resolve and turn us into unconquerable uber-warriors. There is a corollary to this view however. The absence of challenge or difficulty often breeds weakness. Observe the the life outcomes of second and third generation offspring born into wealth and privilege. Often a recipe for mal-content and dysfunction
Adversity and Opportunity, are they two sides of the same coin? Adversity has two subtly different definitions. One is; misfortune, affliction, difficulty, trouble, hardship, distress and so forth. This definition refers to a negative reference point or actual manifestation of strife the sufferer of the adversity endures. It suggests a pervasive and passive state of existence. There is a hint of victimization apparent with this state of being.

The other definition of is; contrary, against, opposed. As in an adverse decision or finding.

If an adversity is viewed through our perception lens as less of an actual state but rather a set back, not to be endured but rather as an uncomfortable but temporary situation, then the attitude starts to change. This can then become a wake up call or feedback barometer that motivates us to look for the lessons that need to be learned in order to progress.

The language used to identify our adversities can define them. Simple words such as desperation, distress, hardship and crisis can become self fulfilling. If however in the face of apparent hopelessness we choose to revert to more empowering descriptions such as setbacks, blips, challenges or temporary hurdles, then the internal strength and resources to move forward become more easily engaged.

Opportunity is the enemy of adversity. The word itself is enervating. It conjures up visions of hope and self control. In the midst of even the greatest personal devastation we have a choice in how we respond. The problem may not evaporate but with an attitude of hope and orientation towards finding some opportunity from the depths of the despair some progress may eventuate.

Adversity is either a fixed state of hopelessness or an opportunity to re-analyze new options. There is nearly always an alternative way to respond to any situation and our ability to redefine the experience is the first step.

A life bereft of opportunity would indeed be cursed. Transient periods of adversity may however be a blessing, the fuel that propels our motivation.

Today's crisis may one day be viewed as the catalyst for greater triumphs to come.

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