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  • Writer's picturePeter

How to turn your adversities into your strengths

Updated: Jun 4

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I’ve noticed a funny thing happening during this Covid-19 lock down.

Lots more people out walking, riding bikes and running etc.

It’s as is if when we’re told not to do something (inset whatever) we to rally against authority and do the opposite.

Maybe it’s an Aussie thing? However I really think it’s something in the nature of us all. Just look at the protests of people wanting to defy lock downs across the globe.

In fact witnessing this gives me hope. Hope in us all and hope in our futures.

I’m no different to everyone else when facing adversities. I go through a grief and loss process

  1. Denial and isolation;

  2. Anger;

  3. Bargaining;

  4. Depression;

  5. Acceptance. 

What I have learnt though, is the faster I can accept, forgive, apply the ‘gold nugget lessons I’ve learnt about myself’ and move forward. The more I grow and the greater value I am to others.

In truth it took me a long time to realise this, as my father would attest to. The years of grief I gave him after he’d woken me up at 4.30am each morning and driving me to the local pool for swimming squad. 

I’m sure I made it perfectly clear how irrational getting out of a warm bed especially during cold winters, only to strip down it swimming trunks and dive into a cold pool of water was. However he helped me and I did it. Thank you Dad :)

Standing on the edge of that pool, and with no good reasons to turn back, what else could I do but accept the situation and dive in?

So it is with every other adversity I and we face in life. 

We might not like it but then what? Just do nothing and stay frustrated?

Or do we accept things for how they are and go about putting our best efforts forward to change our situation and ourselves for the better.

How do we turn our adversities into your strengths?

A psychologist who told me (a great place to start if your stuck) that our choices in life are like a spiral. 

Crystal ball spiral
Are your actions and choices causing you to spiral upwards or downwards?

The actions we choose will either spiral us upwards or downwards. The choice is ours.

Sometime we cause our own adversity, for whatever reason.  Sometime we have adversities forced upon us. The thing about adversities is that our outcome will always be determined by our actions. Whether we do something or we don't.

Adversity sucks for us all, but it’s in this discomfort we get our greatest motivation to move forward.

Because 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.

The GFC hit and we had massive borrowings and our investments had either tanked or frozen. I was often angry, defensive, and in survival mode most of the time.Along this journey, I realized something important.

If I didn’t change, the choice to change would be taken away from me.

Looking back now, I faced a similar experience after returning home from travelling overseas, with nothing in my back account and at the time the economy was in recession. My future was bleak!I could either remain frustrated, angry and depressed in my current state of adversity, Or I could accept the situation, and seek to find a new way forward internally first that could then lead to a positive change of my external advertises. 

Sometimes, another perspective is all it takes to give us a fresh eye on our obstacles.

Instead of these adversities being something I had to get through, I began to see them as an opportunity and a necessary step for me to become the person I am today.

Without the experience both good and bad, I wouldn't have eaten so much humble pie and known how it felt to have hot air blown up my ass. I wouldn’t have been able to share the fear, struggle, frustrations and ‘ah-ha moments” along with the satisfaction of doing a job well done and the rewards that always follow.

I now see adversities as an 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 if you choose it to be.

Our difficulties have an expiration date. I used to joke that “it was always the darkest before it became pitch black!”

Since then I have come to realize that I tend too hang on to to things that hurt me for  way too long and the sooner I let them go and stop fighting them, the quicker I move forward.

While we may not be able to predict when it will be over, it will come to an end eventually.

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.

I was bored this morning and a bit tired so instead of reading a bible passage I typed into google, a message from God. The message read. God. "Turn your worry into worship and watch me turn your battles into blessings".

When you view your temporary difficulties as blessings and opportunities to grow they immediately get smaller and more manageable. You get clearer on what action to take next.

2. Adversity and guilt Is an anchor. Forgiveness is freedom.

Going through difficulties humble us.

They makes us assess what is important and chart a new course for our life.

My failures, self-criticism, self-judgement and fears were like an anchor weighing me down. That was until

I made sense of my memories and re-framed them into something positive, until then they were forever holding me back.

When I forgave myself, I cut the anchor of burden of guild and adversity loose. I was free!!!!

It was exactly the moment I knew I had been freed from a huge burden and had the motivation and desire to move forward.

In this new space and perspective I had the opportunity and ability to begin learning from what I had gone through.

Now I understand my adversity is the breeding ground for all growth moving forward. Not that I enjoy the experience but it's a necessary process to move me forward.

3. Adversity Is Your Greatest Teacher.

When the student is ready the right teacher turns up!

I have never been that good at book learning. I was more of the forth horse meaning the one that has to learn a lesson in their marrow before moving forward, but once learnt never forget.

What has helped me greatly to accept and adapt to times of adversity is my mindset.

I now see adversity as a way to thin the herd, test your commitment and confirm your strengths, both to yourself and to others.

Being a financial planner is a tough gig, especially post the royal commission into banking and financial services.

When many in our industry are either leaving or screaming. My thoughts are this is the best time to be a financial planner.

I have experience, skills, knowledge and immense support from my clients and colleagues.

The lessons I have learnt and experiences I’ve had, along with the opportunity to help others get through their own adversities is both an honour and a privilege.

4. Adversity Reveals the Good and New Beginnings.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

I certainly had to go through that process and not consider a change until I’d hit rock bottom and I believed my choices taken away from me.

However like a bushfire scorches the earth and burns towering trees to small burnt black stumps. It also turns the undergrowth into fertile topsoil and bursts open seeds that can only be activated by fire.

So to  sometimes we need a hell fire of adversity to burn off our current ways, and to reveal and unleash something new within us.

And the lessons we’ve learnt be the nutrients for our growth because from it grows gratitude, understanding, wisdom and patience.

Its this new growth from the ashes of my adversities that helps me find more things to be grateful for throughout my day.

Could the real You Please Stand UP!

I’ve learnt that success is simple, but not easy. You simply need to know specifically what you want, know how much it will cost and pay for it.

If you sick and tired of being sick and tired and you are ready to say no more to your fears and to your current adversities then you can do so right now.

I also know that change can happen in a moment, however coming to the decision to change can take years if not decades.

The past is dry cement! We both cannot change this. However the present is our present, so consider the choices that you make today as the investment you are making towards your future self.

You owe it to you!

If you are stuck in a funk or you’re lost in a cloud of complexity feel free to contact me. Most often in life we just need someone to talk things through and to lighten our load a little.

This post was written by Me, as such they are my personal views and not financial or general advice.

You should always seek independent financial advice when it comes to choices about your personal finances. This is one area of your life where it’s worth paying for it to be done right.

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