In my article last week I introduced the idea that adversity is important and valuable to our growth as a person. What I mean by adversity is we will have opportunities to face difficult challenges and tests on our journey through life. Unfortunately, most of us will not want to face those challenges and tests because of the pain and emotional discomfort they bring up in the process. Last week I provided some reasons why we avoid adversity. Here is a quick reminder of the reasons we avoid adversity.
- Adversity reminds us of past failures and pain.
- Adversity triggers feelings that we do not want to revisit.
- Adversity reinforces our shadow beliefs
In this week’s article, I want to talk about why it is important to embrace adversity as a valuable opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
The Value of Adversity
- Adversity Develops Character
I remember one of my counseling teachers saying to me, “If you are faced with two choices to deal with a problem and you do not know which choice to make, always choose the more difficult one, it will develop character in you.” What I heard him say, was that choosing to make the difficult choice is what would develop all the internal qualities necessary to face any challenge or difficulty in life. Facing up to adversity and choosing to deal with the emotional discomfort and pain is what would develop the courage, strength, determination, self trust and faith to face any of life’s tests. In fact, that was the choice that would make me as a person.
- Adversity Tests My Character
Resistance is a Good Thing
When the opportunity to face adversity presents itself, it is important that I do not see it as a plot against my personal well being, but a test of the very qualities that I am developing as a healthy, effective person. I need to understand clearly that the resistance I encounter from time to time is not some universal evil force bent on destroying me, but a benevolent, compassionate higher power concerned about my growth as a person. I believe that this kind of resistance is a cosmic test of my character. There is a verse in the Bible that supports this conclusion. It says;
“We rejoice in our sufferings (tests, trials) because we know that suffering (tests, trials) produces patience, patience, character and character, hope.
Often, when I am faced with trials, tests or suffering, I take on such a bad attitude. I want to complain about the unfairness of life and how somehow I am being singled out for abuse. Well, that is the time to put on a different pair of glasses and see the opportunity that this kind of adversity is producing in me…patience, character and hope. How many of us could use a little more patience, character and hope. Hope changes everything. If I see the value of my adversity and I am clear that it is taking me to a positive future, then I can rejoice, and be grateful.
Adversity Helps Me to Overcome My Fears
Something that I became painfully aware of as I struggled with an anxiety disorder; is how fearful I became of emotional discomfort. That moment when my anxiety began to scale the ladder of panic there was nothing I wanted more than to escape that feeling. I felt like I was not in control of my emotions and ultimately they would blow my head off of my shoulders and I collapse in a dead heap. So; I avoided any chance that those fears would be triggered.
What I learned with time was the only way to overcome those fears was to risk triggering those emotions. Flying airplanes was a good test for me. I actually never flew until I was twenty six years old and was invited to Toronto to speak at a church for a week. The opportunity was so compelling that I was willing to face my fear of flying and head out east. My first flight was from Kamloops to Vancouver. As I sat in my seat, looking out at the tarmac thinking it would soon disappear as the plane took off, I was more than a little anxious. I had my headset on and music blaring in my ears to distract me from my thoughts and feelings. Eventually the plain lifted off and I was stuck in one of those living nightmares that I was convinced would never take place in my life time. What I discovered ten minutes into my short flight was that my head had not blown off and I was not in dead heap. The next day I flew four and a half hours to Toronto and knew that I had conquered a fear that was drastically limiting my ability to go where I wanted to go and do what I wanted to do.
Adversity Builds Confidence
My greatest discovery when I faced my fear of flying was the confidence that began to grow in me. I realized that the more I was willing to face my fears the more confident I would become at managing my emotions. That was a complete game changer.
This is why adversity is so valuable. It will help you to overcome your fears. It will build your emotional confidence and it will develop the necessary character qualities to be the best you, you can be.
This is why I run personal development programs. They will face you with your emotional discomfort but in the end give you the confidence and character to live your life to the absolute full. Remember that phrase from Connections…the answers are in the discomfort. However, be very clear, you will never find those answers without facing that discomfort.