How To Bounce Forward From Adversity

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Dr Ottilia Brown

How To Bounce Forward From Adversity

Posted 13 Mar 2018

Emotional Health

Dr. Ottilia Brown

How To Bounce Forward From Adversity

Every day we interact with a world that is filled with adversity. You may ask yourself, ‘How do people keep going despite all that they are faced with?’ Life-changing events like car accidents, illnesses, wars, natural disasters… the list can be endless… happen everywhere, all the time; yet people keep going. You may even ask yourself whether, if faced with similar circumstances, you would have the ability to forge ahead. The fact of the matter is that the human spirit is tenacious; we are hardwired to survive. Some of us may engage in this survival in a constructive manner whereas others may choose unhealthy ways of mustering through.

Those that have been found to bounce back from and adapt well in the face of adversity have been said to have resilience. Other ways of describing resilience include adaptability, elasticity and toughness. Adversity can mean different things to different people; this is usually a matter of perception. However, regardless of your perception of adversity, having a healthy dose of resilience will assist you in dealing with life’s challenges. Having resilience does not mean that you will skip the negative emotions and consequences associated with adversity. Resilience does however help with dealing effectively with challenges and growing from difficulties in life. In fact, resilience can mean bouncing forward and coming out on the other side with additional skills and areas of you that have developed, and others that you may have realised need to be reduced or eliminated.

So now that you have read this far, you might be thinking, ‘Is this something I am supposed to be born with?’. Some people are born with more resilience than others, but the good news is that resilience can be cultivated and nurtured. Every person will have a unique way of building this resilience, there is no one size fits all approach. However, there are some strategies that may be useful as you embark on cultivating this quality:

1. Pay close attention to YOU!
When adversity strikes, notice your responses and your coping strategies (these can be constructive or destructive). Why not use this as an opportunity to learn more about how you deal with life’s challenges so that you can remedy unhelpful patterns and tendencies? Take careful note of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Journaling can be a helpful tool for achieving this objective.

2. Think about how you FRAME the adversity
Framing the adversity as insurmountable or catastrophic will make it more difficult for you to manage it effectively. See the adversity as an opportunity for personal growth. This does not mean denying the gravity of what you are dealing with or minimising the impact of the difficulties on your life. Realism is advocated. However, thinking catastrophically interferes significantly with the ability to view the adversity as soluble.

3. Acknowledge POSITIVE moments
When life is not going well, it is easy to get bogged down in the negative and completely ignore that which is going well. Learn to allow the negative and positive to live alongside one another. When something positive happens, acknowledge it and allow yourself to experience the good emotions associated with it. In fact, actively seek out positive experiences and if possible create opportunities for positive moments.

4. Practice the art of GRATITUDE
Practice gratitude; not only when going through challenges, but all the time. Gratitude has been proven to have powerful positive effects on mental health. This is often difficult to achieve when in the throws of life’s difficulties and may mean getting back to the very basics such as acknowledging sight or mobility or access to basic needs. The idea is to really focus on that which you are grateful for and not to merely ramble off a list of items.

5. Engage in acts of KINDNESS
Engage in acts of kindness, whether these are organised in terms of volunteering or random. Practising kindness can significantly contribute to cultivating gratitude, improving mental health and has been shown to positively influence longevity.

6. Actively cultivate a routine of HEALTHY HABITS
Pay attention to the basics like eating healthy and ensuring enough and good quality sleep as well as exercising and prioritising relaxation. Often these basic but fundamental habits that steel us against the negative consequences of stress, are the first to be neglected when faced with adversity. Avoid unhealthy habits like substance use and social isolation when adversity strikes.

Social support systems may include, but are not limited to, family members, friends, religious organisations, colleagues or mental health professionals. Look for people that are on the same wavelength regarding personal growth and who will not focus exclusively on the negatives.

8. Nurture a VIEW OF YOURSELF that mirrors confidence and capability
Develop a view of yourself as someone that can manage adversity and grow from it. If there are skills you require like communication, decision-making and problem-solving and you identify that these are lacking, remember that they can be learnt and added to your coping arsenal. View yourself as resourceful and capable of acquiring that which is needed to not only manage the adversity but to thrive.

9. Learn how to manage painful EMOTIONS
Manage your emotions appropriately. Healthy expression of emotion to prevent mental health issues is incredibly important. When faced with adversity, you are likely to experience a range of negative emotions. If this is something that you know is a challenge for you, it may be helpful to consult with a mental health professional and to learn emotional regulation skills and appropriate expression of emotion.

10. Consistently build the quality of RESILIENCE
Developing resilience should not be left for when adversity strikes. Remember to keep working on your skills even when things are going well. In this way you will have a sense of preparedness when adversity knocks on your door, knowing that despite the immense difficulties you are about to go through, you will flourish and bounce forward to development, improvement and ultimately actualisation.

Putting the above into practice can only enritsch your life!


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4 people have commented this blog.

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Claire says:

1 year 2 months ago
Consciously practicing 'kindness' and 'gratitude' can provide many forms of happiness and healing that for the most part are not well understood. When I went through some challenges in my life a few years ago, I decided to start working with the tools I had been given by the Creator for free. This included changing my thoughts and perspectives and focusing on the practice of both kindness and gratitude. I would say 5 years down the track - the positive results in my life would never have been imagined when I first started out. Now I couldn't imagine life any other way ☺️. Gratitude to you for helping others to find their happiness!
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 year 2 months ago
Claire thank you for sharing your positive journey with us and for reinforcing the power of kindness and gratitude and of being willing to consider alternatives to the way we think. My best wishes as you continue on this path, Ottilia

Michael says:

1 year 2 months ago
Cheers for the great advice which I'm looking forward to putting into practice. Michael
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 year 2 months ago
That's great Michael. Practice is the key indeed! Best wishes, Ottilia

DanaAB says:

1 year 2 months ago
Thank you for some very helpful advice about how to manage bad situations in our life. I visit this website often for guidance on living a happy existence and I'm happy to see that you have joined their team of experts. I look forward to learning more from you. Best, Aisha ?‍
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 year 2 months ago
Thank you for the very warm welcome Aisha! I am happy that you found the information helpful. Take good care, Ottilia

JazzL says:

1 year 2 months ago
Wow such amazing insight and practical useful hints. Adversity knocks when you least expect it and strengthening our skills is what really helps us through. Thank you for reminding me of how best to strengthen skills that require attention and reinforcing those that are strong. Thank you for sharing this and I look forward to following you and your future writings. I promise to take better care of me. Xoxo
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 year 2 months ago
Thank you for your kind words and reflections JazzL! Great that you are recommitting to taking care of you! My best wishes, Ottilia

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