What to do And What Not to do When Faced With Adversity

Everybody thinks they have the answer on how to face adversity. Some say you should stop doing what you are doing and take some time off, some others say that you should be tough and fight through it. Those are the most popular responses to adversity, in my experience. For years, they were the only two options I thought were available when faced with adversity. This article will explore a better method of dealing with adversity that I’ve been tinkering with in the last five or so years.

First of all, it is important to determine what adversity is and what it is not. Real adversity is NOT:

-Consequences of decisions/actions (if you know about better ones)
-Your reactions to an unfortunate event (or a whole bunch of them)

These are direct causes of adversity in that you were the cause of the adversity. Yes, these things are not favorable, but they are all controllable and generally, you are the one who caused the adversity. To solve the above three things, the only real things you need to do are to be self aware of what you are doing/how you are feeling, get the fundamentals down if necessary, develop some discipline, and triple your commitment.

It is true that stuff like floundering through college and running up massive debt, getting framed for stalking because you creeped out a girl, and losing money in blackjack are all stupid decisions that lead to adversity. But If you use the info that bad decisions give you properly, you can create less adversity in the future. People generally do not do this, and instead tend to blame outside forces or themselves for their adversity when really no blaming should even take place. The only thing that bad decisions do is give you a chance to learn. If you do not view bad decisions this way, then you are tragically wasting your time and energy. Blame no one when you are faced with this kind of adversity, either yourself or others; just be objective and learn from it.

The questions you should ask when you are facing indirect adversity are: Do I truly know the fundamentals involving this? What did I do to cause this? What can I do to avoid it next time?

Then use positive language (telling yourself what to do) instead of negative language (telling yourself what not to do) to correct the behavior and create less adversity in the future. Positive language is much more effective in the long term than negative language when correcting something.

Other than consequences of mistakes or bad decisions, adversity is when something beyond your control places pressure on you, which creates unfavorable situations. The key words here are beyond your control, or at least something that you have very little control over. This means that if something is indirectly adverse to you, you did not cause the adversity. For some, this is extremely hard to accept; which is normal, as self accountability is generally not taught traditionally. To me, true adversity is the following:

-Bad Weather/other “Acts of God” like power outages and stuff
-Health conditions/injuries/disabilities you were born with
-Losing someone close to you
-Roads being blocked
-Bad decisions you made (if you didn’t know about better ones)
-Rules (yes, you can generally vote on rules but you don’t have any significant influence on them)
-The actions/conditions of others around you

These are things that indirectly cause adversity. You have no control of these and no matter how good your decisions were or are, you can’t change these (for the most part). They make things unfavorable for you. You don’t prefer them. You could do without them. They are unfortunate. In this modern age, it appears that this kind of stuff is all around us.

So adversity sucks and we should curse it, right? Wrong. That’s negative thinking. Thinking negatively, unless you are making a prediction that comforts you (like predicting a loss if the dealer having a 10 showing in blackjack) into a soft landing, is a tragic waste of energy.

So adversity rocks and we should embrace it, right? Wrong. That’s not as bad as seeing adversity as something bad, but still not the best use of energy when faced with adversity.

Yes you can emotionally react to adversity, it is only natural to do so. But to make sure you are not wasting energy, make it a very short burst. Unless it is something crazy like loss, it is a massive waste of energy to get emotional for any extended period of time. Even with loss, it is senseless to decide to self destruct into substance abuse and degenerate spectating just because you experienced a loss of someone important.

The best thing to do when met with adversity is to see objectively how this impedes you and what you can do about it. Like anything, this is a habit that takes lots of time to master. But it is one of the most useful skills that anyone can learn. Panicking when faced with adversity (of any kind) will almost instantly lead to a bad performance. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to practice discipline and panic control. Mashing the “panic” button is easy; absurdly, mind-numbingly easy, but at the same time very toxic to your development. Resist the temptation.

Allow me to provide an example. For most of this month, I am entered in a gaming racing tournament. I have already competed in two races: One that went well, and one where I was met with a lot of adversity that went very badly. In the one that went well, I was only beaten by half a second. And I was only defeated because I made a miscalculation instead of following the fundamentals. In the one where I was met with adversity (I was behind on experience points that I needed to level my player), I hit the panic button, and it showed. I made lots of mistakes and did a lot of things wrong. I only needed to finish the game in around 84 or so minutes (when I practiced, I was around 82 and a half) to get a decent score in the tournament. I wound up finishing in about 87. Even with all the indirect adversity I faced during the race, I could have finished minutes faster. I created my own adversity, and paid for it.

So two races that could have been way better than they were, ruined by my own panic and forgetting the fundamentals. Had I just been objective and stuck to the fundamentals, I would have done slightly better, or even much better. Who knows? I have been dealing with this in bowling as well for roughly a decade, and because of it, I feel like I have much to offer in making bowlers better. Expect a new blog that will revolve specifically around that shortly, probably sometime in 2018.

So now we know what adversity is, and what not to do when faced it. So now let’s talk about what to do when faced with adversity.

My last post talked about success and failure being choices if you know what the basics are. This decision becomes very real when adversity is factored in because most fundamentals surrounding an activity are set in stone and either get built upon or never change. They very seldom change or get eliminated completely. Fundamentals naturally overcome most all adversity.

When you are met with adversity, when something does not go your way, the basics and the fundamentals are the first, last and only thing you need to go back to. Yes, sometimes the basics are not enough when you are met with adversity. That means only one thing: You don’t have all of the fundamentals for the activity down perfectly and something is missing. And this means you need to gather even more information on the basics of whatever activity you are engaging in. And because new strategies are being developed on almost everything, this almost never stops. You can ask ANY sports coach about that.

This is why I argue that life is a mountain and that unless you are taking a significant amount of time off (because you are injured/burnt out), you should always climb it. When you feel like you can’t get any better at something, it usually means three things:

-You have truly reached a zenith and have nothing left to improve on, some other strategy comes along
You are happy with where you are now and are more interested in maintaining than improving
-You are too injured or burnt out to improve and need some time off

To conclude this, let’s go back to why you shouldn’t get too emotional about facing adversity. My #1 unwavering principle is self accountability. In order to be self accountable, nothing else can be too relevant no matter how much you want it to be. So whenever something bad happens, it is up to me and nobody else to improve it. This means that the ball is in my court and I have all the power to make things better. If I emotionally react to something, good or bad, I take power away from myself.

Let’s say I’m bowling against someone. If I beat them, I get to advance to the next round. I have four strikes in a row and then I leave a pretty nasty split. Not reacting emotionally to the split is not natural. Of course I will react to it. Its human nature to value stuff, good or bad. But what is obsolete is extending the emotional reaction and letting it affect my future performance.

So instead of “oh great, there’s a guaranteed open frame” my thought is “I’m coming off of four strikes, what can I do to keep my score up, even though I am very likely to open here? And what adjustment should I make in the next frame this way I don’t repeat this?”

Which thought responds to adversity in a healthier way?

We know, intellectually, that the second one does. But our emotions scream at us to follow the first dialogue. The reason why we do this is best saved for another article. It is something that I will probably expound upon much more than I should.

But for now, when you are met with adversity, do not forget to look at the adversity objectively, then follow the fundamentals. It all falls on you.