Adversity is defined by Dictionary.com as “a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress.” While no one enjoys experiencing adverse circumstances, adversity can play a significant role in personal growth and development by aiding in the generation of critical skills and knowledge. In this way, adversity can prove to be one of the greatest gifts and learning to embrace it can result in several benefits.
Self-awareness is a conscious knowledge of one’s own feelings, motives, and desires. Facing misfortune and calamity creates opportunities for individuals to reflect on how they feel more often than when things in life tend to be more stable and less chaotic There is something about adversity that generally causes people to become more in tune with how they feel, what they want, and what might be the driving force behind their actions or responses to a given situation. There is also time to examine what previously taken actions or decisions may have contributed to the current negative outcome or situation.
It is this process of reflection during a calamity that makes the practice of reflection become more natural and habitual. Eventually, it is something that can be implemented not just during times of adversity, but even during times of stability. It is through the process of continual reflection and subsequent improvement and adjustment that growth can be achieved. (*)
Adversity plays a critical role in building patience. Typically, when we face adversity it is not quick and in a hurry. Thus, going through hardships that tend to be prolonged teaches individuals how to endure during hardships that may not be quick to cease. We learn how to gain self-control over our emotions and responses as we wait for the adversity to pass. This helps us develop patience so that we can navigate hardships in the future (*).
Resilience speaks to how well we are able to recover from the challenges and hardships that we face in life. As it turns out, facing and overcoming adversity helps to build resilience. A study of approximately 2000 people monitored mental health and general well-being for a period of several years. Participants were monitored via online surveys and were asked to list troubling events such as divorce, loss, or natural disasters that occur before the survey began. They also reported on adverse events that happened during the survey period.
The results of the study showed that those who had previously endured hardships were happier afterward. Psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine noted that individuals who were challenged by life were given the opportunity to learn how to overcome adversity, which allowed them to develop coping strategies, identify support networks, and build the confidence needed to persevere (*).
During times of adversity, people often realize they need the support and assistance of others in order to make it through those tough times. While adversity can certainly put a strain on many relationships, people often find that adversity creates a foundation for relationships to be strengthened as well.
When things are not going well people typically have to come together to pool ideas, resources, strength, etc. as a means of helping them overcome the obstacle. This process forces people to communicate, be vulnerable, be transparent, and offer support for others in a way that ultimately enhances the nature and strength of the overall relationship.
Facing challenges and adversity provides the chance for individuals to gain information and skills. When faced with hardship we often have to problem-solve as a means of overcoming adversity.
This means doing the work of identifying the problem(s), consulting the resources, analyze possible solutions, and select and implement options. This process not only helps people learn to address the issue at hand, but it also helps with the development of skills that can be applied to future situations such as problem-solving skills, analytical skills, research skills, and others (Hurd, 2019).
Adversity is a gift because it helps us to challenge and extend ourselves beyond the limits we normally set. It is through adversity that we are able to develop the self-awareness, patience, resilience, knowledge, and strong relationships needed to help us to continue to navigate life successfully.
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