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Adversity Advantage

How do you deal with adversity? Do you deny or avoid the inevitable conflicts, disappointments, stress, and turmoil in life? Many parents feel compelled to protect their children from all bad things even when they are not especially harmful. We hate to see our kids fail, when often we can easily prevent it from happening. We step in and intervene rather than allowing the failure to occur and create a learning experience. However, we cannot learn resilience and grow without having failures and disappointments in our lives. In fact, we grow more through failure than we do through success. Allowing adversity builds character, tenacity and humility. As parents we can encourage, support, coach, and guide our children through difficult times, but it is important to not assume ownership for their failures. We actually do our children a disservice when we take on responsibility and ownership for a problem that they created or contributed to in some way. Failure is part of life; let our children learn coping skills while they still have the support of family and friends in close proximity.

What is your comfort level with change? For some of us, change is exciting and stimulating which is why we welcome and embrace it. Others would prefer things to remain the same, especially if things are going well. Change is inevitable and occurs often and quickly, so we need to be ready for it. The change may relate to our marriage, health, job, family, or friendships, but nothing in life remains the same forever (except for God). Coping with change can be a minor or major adjustment, but our attitude can contribute to our adaptability. Do you resist or embrace change? Often resistance to change is directly related to our difficulties letting go of control. We have a hard time trusting or believing that something good could come from change. Sometimes the changes are chosen by us, while other times they are imposed on us by others or circumstances. Resilience is our ability to adapt and cope positively with inevitable life changes. Think of resilience like an emotional muscle that needs to be worked out in order to expand and get stronger.

So how does one build resilience? First recognize that resilience is a learned behavior and all of us are capable of increasing our level of resilience. As I mentioned above, having a positive and optimistic attitude helps us build resilience. Positive role models, mentors, and an encouraging support network can also help build resilience. Even supporting others can help us build our own resilience. We can write our story according to how we want things to play out when we're dealing with adversity. Take action and develop a game plan. Of course, blaming others or circumstances doesn't work nor does personalizing situations, these ways only keep us stuck. Take stress breaks and remind yourself of your positive attributes that enabled you to overcome adversity in the past. When we trust and believe in our ability to adapt to change, we can work through tremendous trauma. Lastly, lean into your faith and trust that you're never alone when dealing with life's struggles.

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