Dealing with adversity

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In any era, the ability to deal with adversity is a key concept to understand, it can bring you far, recover from setbacks, and push one’s limits.

But how does one actually deal with it?

Let’s dive in.

We give up too easily

Most people give up easily. How many people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions? The number is not that high. The concept of goal setting sounds simple enough, you set a SMART goal, then work towards it. But why do we give up our diet like two days later when we attend our friend’s invitation for a pizza night? Aren’t we supposed to be dieting? Why do we give up and allow ourselves leeway to have that one cheat meal when we know we shouldn’t?

We let emotions cloud our judgement

Largely because we let emotions rule over our logical brain. We think that we will feel happy when we have that pizza, only to realise how much we hate ourself the day after. We want to fit in therefore we attend the pizza party. We need our social life right?

You see, emotions merely seek instant gratification. We want to feel fulfilled, therefore instant gratification > achieving our goal. The point of dieting is to maintain good health and maybe slim down, no? Yet we seek out immediate gratification when dieting is a long drawn process. And that wears us down.

We need to build up inner tolerance

To improve how we deal with temptations, we got to develop the ability to say no to things that are not aligned to our goals. We may setup rules and principles to follow, while providing some flexibility. We don’t want to be too rigid nor too flexible.

However, that’s just our inner battles. We have outer battles too. Some people are out there to pull us down. They tell us our goal sucks. We don’t need to diet. We can follow what they have done. Or some program/solution they think is better for us (but have never actually tried it and see substantial results). Then they tell us to cut ourselves some slack. That we can be a little bit more human. Enjoy life a little. But it’s not their goal to achieve..

We then politely decline their offer. We know what to do when we meet debbie downers. We acknowledge it’s their opinion, and it’s our job to discern if opinion is gold or just pure BS. We don’t want to be rude and shut out opinions right? That would just be a troll.

Let haters hate, imma hustle my way there.

There will always be haters. No matter what we do, there will always be people who disagree with our viewpoint or criticise our work. Instead of getting frustrated and underperform (thereby proving them right), we draw strength from them. We show em what we got. The only time when nothing is left in our tank is when we achieve our goal, when we give our all. We will never let haters get inside our head. The moment when we second guess ourselves is a sign that we should start hustling more.

Find your tribe

A good way to hustle more is to find people who share the same viewpoints, people who will support us. Collective strength is better than suffering in silence. Get people to help us, reinforce our strengths, correct our thought process. Rather than allowing unsolicited and unconstructive criticisms wearing us down, we seek our constructive criticisms from people who are better than us to improve our craft. We just can’t do it alone, it might just end up in an echo chamber.

Make and wear sandals

There’s this concept in the book The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin which describes the world as a jungle and we are thrown into the jungle (aka reality) barefooted. If we wish to explore the jungle, we need some form of footwear to wade through the dense treacherous forest. By making sandals, metaphorically speaking, we are preparing ourselves. We can train our ability to withstand adversity by welcoming adversity. The more we train, the tougher we get, then we can welcome adversity and explore the forest. Making sandals is akin to making armour, and the premise remains the same.

Armies don’t go to war without a strategy. They don’t send untrained soldiers. They train them. They train them to have a particular set of skills for a particular purpose. Same goes to adversity. If we falter at the first sight of a curveball, then we need training. We need to toughen ourselves up. We need to embrace challenges during our training then we can adequately challenged in the real world. Either way, we will always be challenged. Not being challenged is a surefire way to know that we aren’t growing.

Let’s not give up so easily, let’s not allow emotions to cloud our judgement, let’s build up our inner tolerance, let’s ignore the haters and find our tribe, and let’s welcome adversity by preparing ourselves.

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