Sometimes Grace comes in the form of a punch in the face. – Mary Elder.
(This is the final post in an 8-part guest series by Sarah Novak titled “Why Catastrophe ROCKS! An 8-part Series on How to Use Adversity to Your Advantage.” Pic credit: www.turas-cities.org).
Whoa, it’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the end of our 8 part series on Adversity! My desire is that you’re walking away with a slightly-altered view of adversity (perhaps that it’s just a blip in your story instead of your demise). I hope you know now that, although REALLY challenging and often-times painful, adversity also brings with it a myriad of amazing, transformative gifts.
Let’s Recap What We’ve Learned:
In the last 7 posts of this Saturday series, we looked at why catastrophe happens, what responses are available to us, what the potential upsides may be, boundary-setting, how to open up and accept help by asking for what you need, getting comfortable with dark emotions, and getting clarity on what you want.
In a nutshell…
Post 1: Why Catastrophe Happens, taught us that catastrophe can arise from both external sources (nature, bad luck, etc) and internal sources (health issues that arise from us ignoring a situation for too long). The post also emphasized that what matters most is not WHY the issue came to be, but HOW we choose to respond to the adversity that’s facing us. There is always a choice for us and that choice determines whether we’ll feel VICTIMIZED or EMPOWERED.
Post 2: Change Your Thoughts, Minimize Suffering took us deeper into the idea of choice. It was here that we DEBUNKED THE MYTH that our circumstances must change in order for us to feel better. What we discovered as truth was that OUR THOUGHTS ARE WHAT CREATE OUR FEELINGS and since we have the power to control our thinking, we can choose to feel better without the circumstance needing to change. This is HUGE because, as we know, circumstances are often out of our control, so much better to invest our time focusing on what we can change – OUR THOUGHTS!
The 5 Upsides of Adversity
Posts 3 through 7 took an unconventional direction and focused on exploring the BENEFITS OF ADVERSITY. It was incredible to see how much UPSIDE there truly is in catastrophic circumstances!
Here’s an overview of the 5 benefits!
Post 3: Relationship Overhauls. In Post 3 we learned that Adversity introduces an element of VULNERABILITY into our life that can have a polarizing effect on our relationships.
Some family and friends are unable to be with that vulnerability and disappear from our lives. With others, our exposed vulnerability draws us into deeper connection. At the end of the day, what’s important to remember here is that we DON’T HAVE CONTROL OVER THE RESPONSE OF OTHERS.
All we can do is compassionately accept their choice and invest our time with the individuals who are willing to stand by our side.
Adversity’s First Gift: Richer Relationships
Post 4: Boundary Setting. In Post 4 we learned that Adversity reduces our available time or energy (because we spend more time worrying/problem solving or illness drains our physical energy). This decrease in time and energy FORCES us to take stock of our commitments and assess which actually have meaning to us (and which we’re simply doing out of default or obligation).
In place of being “Yes People”, we learned to make decisions that are in sync with our values, which will ensure that we naturally live from a place of alignment and fulfillment.
Adversity’s Second Gift: Learning to Say No
Post 5: Learning to Ask for What you Need. In Post 5 we looked at the flip-side of saying no – those times when we need to open ourselves up to accepting help. Because adversity limits our capacity, we are often forced to ask for help (something we usually try to avoid at ALL COSTS).
We learned some great tips about HOW to ask for help and also discovered what is expected of us in return. (hint: not much!)
Adversity’s Third Gift: Learning to Assess and Use Resources
Post 6: Cultivating Comfort with Dark Emotions. Post 6 really challenged our thinking by encouraging us not to run from but EMBRACE FEAR, GRIEF and DESPAIR. The reason behind this?
Our dark emotions are a powerful vehicle for transformation. Co-mingled with the pain are profound life lessons for us to learn. The post also made us aware of what our default response to painful emotions is and what alternative responses could look like.
Adversity’s Fourth Gift: Self-liberation from Suffering
Post 7: Getting Clarity About What’s Really Important in Life. There are 3 common characteristics of Adversity that combine to give us entirely new insights and awareness.
They are: a feeling of desperation, a shift in thinking and a sense of determination.
Ultimately, the desperation that we feel from being vulnerable acts as a catalyst that shifts our thinking and actives our courage. From there, we are in a prime position to take meaningful action that will have a lasting effect on our life.
One additional benefit of this process is that we learn to take in information from unconventional sources like our intuition, our dreams and our body – all of which point us more accurately toward our true path.
Adversity’s Fifth Gift: Crystal-clear Clarity & the Desire to Act
But Will the Pain Ever End?
Yes! At some point, after you’ve done the hard work of healing, you WILL EMERGE from your adversity all shiny and new.
Note: There is no timeline or 12 step plan for this, you simply need to journey through YOUR PROCESS.
It will feel like the Promised Land and you should give yourself full permission to bask in the abundance of joy and aliveness that are available to you here.
After months (or years) of hard work, you’ve earned this! As you move on with life, be intentional about how you integrate the lessons you learned during your period of adversity.
Some ways to do this may include: frequent journaling, meditation, or wearing an object (like a ring or necklace) that reminds you of your resilience at moments when you’re in doubt.
You are a TRANSFORMED PERSON, so there’s no point trying to fit back into your old life.
Use the adaptability you learned to craft a new life that works for you now. Continue staying open to new ideas, trust in yourself, and by all means – educate as many people as possible on the upsides of adversity! Your newfound knowledge has the possibility to impact many, many lives if you let it.
Heartfelt thanks for journeying with me through this series. It has been a true pleasure!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! How has this series changed your perspective on adversity? How do you believe you’ll respond differently to future catastrophes you encounter?
As a Cancer Coach, Sarah Novak is committed to helping female cancer survivors use their experience as a catalyst for transformation in their lives. Although we cannot control our circumstances, we CAN always decide how we choose to be with our reality. Check out www.coachsarahnovak.com to learn about her private and group coaching programs + receive her free guide: “Coping with the Everyday Fears of Cancer: How to Minimize Fear and Anxiety by Transforming Your Thoughts.”
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