In The Face Of Adversity

It’s not your fault and it isn’t personal – setbacks and adversity are just an ordinary part of what happens to us while we are trying to pursue our goals, dreams and ambitions. In the face of adversity you have to find a way to carry on.

Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it


Do you create your own adversity?

While some adversity comes as a shock like bad news and bad luck, other things happen to us because we go along with them. We stay in relationships that don’t make us feel good. We do jobs we would love to quit.

It is important to be able to see the problems that we create for ourselves. The bad decisions we make, repeatedly, that create our adversity.

Sometimes this happens because we just can’t take stock and examine our own lives in ways that would be helpful. Sometimes we choose to ignore the truth of ourselves. In the long run, living like this, means we fail to develop and become the people we could be.

How do we develop the confidence and belief that in the face of adversity there are things we can do to help ourselves?

Where to start when you are faced with adversity?

  • try to take an honest look at what has happened – to what extent are you responsible for what has happened?
  • try not to take a setback as a personal slight against you
  • you can lose a lot of time and energy feeling sorry for yourself
  • it is better to try to keep perspective
  • can you use this experience as a springboard to start living a more thoughtful and examined life?

Learning in the face of adversity

What can you learn from this setback?

This won’t be the first or last time you have to deal with a setback. 

But it might be the last time that you are the author of your own adversity.

  • are there things you can learn from the experience?
  • how do you develop the capacity to keep working even when things go against you?
  • how do you assess the impact of the setback?
  • could you see it coming?
  • did you have a plan in place for it?

Fail again, fail better

Samuel Beckett

In the face of adversity it is helpful to keep some perspective, to keep going, to be resilient.

After the shock of the setback it is helpful if you can use the experience to generate energy that you will use to take a careful look at what you did that put you in this position. Then you can think more clearly about what to do next.

Adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with.

Thomas Carlyle

In the face of adversity – learning from myths and legends

Myths and legends are full of people who, in the face of adversity have found a way to carry on.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus has to keep going despite the setbacks that the gods throw at him.  In Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, a kind of modern Odysseus has to find ways to deal with the challenges and setbacks that are part of ordinary life. Bloom keep going in the face of adversity.

Dealing with setbacks is part of what defines these mythic characters. Their ability to keep going no matter what life throws at them.   The great thing about Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, is that he is a recognisable human being, not an ancient Greek hero.  Bloom is a person just like you who manages to keep going, living, loving and forgiving even in the face of adversity. Bloom is able to plot a constructive path through life.

You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience, facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.

Michelle Obama

A setback is a challenge that needs to be faced

Joseph Campbell made a study of the heroes’ journey, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), his book is an encyclopaedia of examples from myth and legend of how in the face of adversity the hero of the story finds a way to unlock the challenge they are faced with. 

Sometimes the key thing is having a confidential and impartial person you can talk it through with, this is part of what makes a psychotherapeutic relationship unique.

Your setback, your adversity may yet turn out to be the key. 

It may not look like that now, but you may come to look back on your adversity and realise that it was the thing, the moment that persuaded you to keep going. Campbell was fascinated by Jungian analytic psychology, and understood that psychotherapy offers a relationship in which we can transform our tendency to repeatedly make bad decisions.

Comic book super heroes, modern myths and legends all tend to be characters who have discovered their super power because of their adversity.  Batman being orphaned.  Batman develops in the face of adversity.

You just need to find a way to treat your setback as a challenge that you will use to sharpen your focus and purpose.

Contact me

I have twenty years experience of working with people who, for whatever reason, may have become dispirited or depressed in the face of adversity.

Giving yourself the chance to speak in a confidential setting may prove to be the beginning of starting to develop greater insight into yourself and your situation. 

  • It may provide you with the energy and motivation you need to carry on with renewed confidence.
  • It may help you transform yourself from being someone who inadvertently keeps making bad life choices, into someone who can work constructively for yourself.

Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.