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Working with Adversity

When the unexpected happens, suddenly and tragically, without warning, it leaves us in a state of shock and disbelief. When the shock wears off we are left with a mixture of emotions: relief, anger, pain, sorrow, anxiety and more.

Where do we go from here? Where do we begin? How can we resolve the multitude of problems that are generated? How do we take that next step?

Adversity is part of life. It can come in the form of severe health issues, divorce, or severe financial setbacks.  We might lose our jobs or face serious concerns with our teens. We may be a victim of crime or severe storms that destroy our homes.

 Whatever the cause, adversity will require us to stop, evaluate, accept and search for solutions.


While each situation is unique and will require specific solutions, here are some basic things to consider.


  1. Stop. When anything adverse happens we will have an instant emotional reaction. Shock and denial help us survive in the moment. We may feel overwhelmed and helpless. We replay the event over and over again. Stop and take some slow deep breaths.  Then put on your thoughtful analytic hat.


  1. Acknowledge the reality of your situation. Resist going over and over the details that keep you stuck in the emotional. As you absorb and accept the totality of what happened, realize you have a very capable, logical and creative mind that can solve problems.


  1. Define specifically all the problems involved.  Most catastrophic events have many layers and problems associated with them.  Some will be obvious up front; others will materialize as you get involved.  Do a quick inventory and prioritize. Writing them down helps as a check off and it is easier to add things as needed.  What needs to be done immediately?  What can wait?  Are other people involved? If so, discuss it with them before you look for solutions. Failure to discuss the problem adequately or failure to act without the input of others involved can have huge unpleasant consequences.


4.  Choose the most important problem on your list to work on.  List everything involved with that problem.  Sometimes there are different elements that need to be worked on at the same time. Brainstorm ideas.  Defer judgment during this phase. All ideas are considered, no matter how wild or bizarre. Do not evaluate until you have exhausted all possibilities. Everything presented can then be evaluated as to viability, pros and cons.


5.  Which of the ideas you brainstormed seem to be the best one?  Make a decision and try it out. Create a goal plan of action. If it doesn’t work, go back and choose another option. Often times during the implementation stage we get a better idea and can work with that.


6.  Accept that you might not have all the answers you need and will have to go back to the drawing board many times to find the right solutions. Life is not simple. Don’t be discouraged. Keep in mind what the most important end goal is for each of the problems you face.  Then try out as many options as you can to reach that end goal.

Here is an example of an unexpected and catastrophic event in my life. When my husband unexpectedly died, the problems attached to his death were multi-faceted. We had just built our dream home.  His pension stopped.  Problems I faced were financial as well as practical.  As I explored options, I gathered facts about the pros and cons of each. But before I could do that I had to make some major decisions about where I would start over again.  I decided to stay in my same community, sold my home and built a smaller one solving many of my problems.

No matter what, stay calm, believe in your ability to resolve whatever problem is in front of you.  With prayer and faith and courage from God, we can overcome and rebuild.

Marlene Anderson

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