How to Kick Adversity’s Ass

Sometimes, life throws you a curveball.

I know quite a few folks facing hard times right now. Divorce. Illness. Financial problems. Death of a family member. You probably know people going through the same thing (or, maybe you’re the one facing the difficult days).

It’s interesting to see how people deal with life’s less stellar moments. Some people face their adversity head-on. They see what’s happening, they ignore the fear, and they charge straight ahead.

Other folks don’t handle it quite as well. They turn inward and blame themselves. Life feels uncontrollable and scary. And no matter how much things improve, they always expect the other shoe to drop.

That’s not a fun place to be.

Adversity is one of life’s constants, like death and taxes. No matter how good things are now, something…unpleasant…is going to happen.  The key is – will you let that thing (whatever it is) destroy you? Or will you kick adversity’s ass instead and thrive?

Oddly, I’ve found that my most successful times are a direct result of crappy things happening. When I got laid off and had no money, I started freelancing – and discovered that I loved the writer’s life. When my husband died, I focused my energies on building my brand – and SuccessWorks was born. When I got hit with a huge and unexpected tax liability, I creatively thought of ways to make more money – and had my best year ever.

Yes, I’m stubborn. But I’m also a firm believer that what doesn’t kill me does make me stronger.

Having said that, there may be some times that you’d rather curl up than fight. If adversity is weighing down your world, here’s how to deal with it – and eventually kick its ass.

Feel the emotion and let it go. It’s normal to feel scared, angry, remorseful, guilty – you name it. Pushing the feelings aside will do nothing but bottle them up. The key is to tell yourself, “I’m going to acknowledge whatever icky emotion this is, and then I’m going back to work.” It doesn’t mean that you’ll stop feeling scared, angry and remorseful. It just means that you’ll stop focusing on fear and focus on you instead.

Make a list of what you can control.  There’s always something you can do, no matter how uncontrollable the situation seems at the time. Can you contact past clients and see if they have any work that they need done? Can you start exercising – even a little bit – so you can clear your mind? Heck. some days, “controlling what you can control” means only having the energy to make one important phone call. That’s OK. Make a list of everything that you can do, both big and small. Reminding yourself that you can “control the controllables” is a huge mental-health move.

Take care of your business “baby.” Are you self-employed? It’s easy to put off important business things because your brain isn’t clicking along at full capacity. However, the last thing you need is for your business to suffer because you’re going through a dark time. Remember that your business is your baby. It needs your constant attention, no matter what else is happening in your life. If you can’t give it 100%, find someone who can fill in and help. Taking your hands off of the business wheel will add extra financial stress down the line – trust me. I know.

Take action every day. You may feel paralyzed by your current situation. That’s normal. The key is to snap yourself out of it and take some action every day. Maybe that means figuring out a new budget. Or calling some people who can help you. Or doing some research. Don’t let a day go by without doing something that will help shake you out of your current situation.

Don’t be afraid to pay for help. If you’re facing a financial hit, your first instinct may be to tighten your purse strings. That’s a smart instinct – but don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. If your business needs a tax pro to help you out of this situation, hire one. If you need a better business plan, work with a consultant. If you need to talk to a counselor, find one.  Don’t add “I can’t afford it” to your already high stress level.  Spend what you need to spend and pull yourself out of your current hole.

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.  Do you feel your stomach tighten and your heart rate increase every time you think about whatever is going on? Don’t bottle it up inside – get it out. Find a friend or trusted confident and tell them what’s going on. Cry with them, laugh with them and let them show you the “other side” of your situation.  You’ll walk away with a new perspective (and focus, too!).

Remember that it will pass. The situation – whatever it is – is temporary. It may not go away tomorrow, but it will go away. You will learn some (hard) lessons as a result of the situation, but that’s OK. We all do. The more adversity we face, the better prepared we are to kick its ass – and move through it with grace, confidence – and even a little bit of humor!

What’s your favorite way of overcoming adversity and kicking its ass?

8 replies
  1. Heather Georgoudiou says:

    Wow. I feel like this at least twice a day! The writer Steven Pressfield calls these feelings Resistance – anytime we are doing something creative – taking a leap of faith, there will be a ton of Resistance.

    Thanks for sharing some of your personal struggles – and how you powered through them, it’s inspirational and motivating. I will put these things into practice and overcome Resistance!

  2. Daphne Gray-Grant says:

    Great suggestions, Heather. I particularly liked the one about paying for help as necessary. A few years ago I hired a bookkeeper for my writing coaching business. BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE. It hasn’t entirely removed bookkeeping from my “to do” lists (after all, I still have to round up the receipts for the bookkeeper) but it’s made my life a whole bunch easier. I also feel reassured that an “expert” is looking after this important area of my life.

    Similarly, many of my clients have said that hiring ME was the best decision they ever made. Spending money on yourself is an investment. If it helps you do your job better or live a happier life, it’s worth it!!

    • Heather says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Great point – that IS why clients hire us. We help make their lives much easier (and help them make more money, too!) Thanks for the feedback! :)

  3. Laurie says:

    I loved this article (and the title)! My sentiments exactly. I love your spirit! And it was a good reminder that even if things suck eggs, it is only temporary unless you dwell on it and make it last longer than it should. Very empowering and awesome.

  4. Amy C. Teeple says:

    Great advice! I love the idea of acknowledging an emotion and then powering through – we too often forget to acknowledge it and it keeps us stuck.

    Investing in professional help is important too – look at it as an investment, not a cost. In the long run, these “buying” decisions often pay off. (I would be lost without my tax guy!)


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