Challenging and Overcoming Adversity

If we view our challenges as disadvantages, we deny the experience of facing and overcoming adversity. There’s always an advantage in a challenge. Your experience of adversity is one of your advantages. Life is A Heroes Journey and you get to play the starring role. . . if you want it.

But that is not the reality for many people. They don’t see themselves as heroes and would rather not be labeled as such. Instead, they focus on what they do and what life demands within reason. Some meet adversity and grow from the experience of the challenge while others spin on their heels and get as far away as possible through fear that it might consume them.

So, what is it the separates one from the other?

Are some of us born with greater adversity management skills than others? No, not that. Think for a moment about a person born with a physical challenge. From day one they live with it. It is their normal and to people looking in, the person with the physical challenge overcomes adversity every day. They are looked upon with awe and labeled special because they set an example of how to beat adversity. Yet do they see their daily challenges as adverse?

Adversity shows itself in many routine life-events. What I see as hostile conditions may be overly adverse to you or not even slightly. My adversity may not be yours or yours mine. Like many things in life, the way we respond depends on our life-experiences and what we took away from those and made our own. This is what separates one from the other. It is all based on the way we look at things and our experiences have focused the lens.

It’s entirely up to us to follow a hero’s journey and challenge adversity or not and the way we respond will be led by our experience.

In early life, many of us will have been no stranger to mantras like, “do better, be better” and a coaching regime that suggests life is some sort of tournament where rewards are given out to achievers. This example can work in two directions; encouraging or discouraging depending on the way the mantra is delivered by significant people in our world, how we are led to understand it and how we act. The problem here though is that it’s not as simple as saying, “I don’t like the way adversity affects me, I need to change”. There’s potentially considerable baggage packed in with the need to change.

What started out as a social response to something can eventually become psychological. Adding the social, giving us “psychosocial”. Evidence of psychosocial adversity can be found in loneliness, breaks in relationships, chronic pain, unmanaged stress. We can feel lonely because we don’t seem able to fit with the achievers’ group as much as we might like. Chronic pain can hurt so much that it feels life-threatening and we don’t want to share our pain socially. Yet all tests come back negative. Is my pain genuine? Challenging adversity got a lot more complicated than saying, “I’ve got this”.

In some circumstances, people suffering extreme levels of psychosocial adversity may suffer acute mental distress and psychiatric disorders. Such trauma can be acute and brought to the fore by events such as the death of somebody close, recurrent domestic violence, or chronic, such as poverty for example. Combinations of these patterns of adversity are common.

Not The Majority Experience

While at some points in our lives we all meet adversity, often it can be successfully challenged and overcome with minimal support. Some people may need the support of a coach to enable them to see what they are too close to see. Others might feel confident on a guided learning journey such as those found in courses, worksheets, or books.

Tools That Help

A positive worksheet example follows. This is based on CBT practice and is comfortably transferable.

The table below contains questions I would typically ask clients in coaching or therapy sessions. It is also a useful tool to look at self and how we can change our thinking to change our lives. If you would like an editable version of this, leave a comment below and you will receive a link.

The Adverse Situation Briefly describe the situation. Don’t analyze, just describe.
First Impressions What was the first thought that crossed your mind when this situation arose?

Was it a thought you have had before?

Consequences Why do you want to change your thinking?

What will the consequences be if you don’t change?

Challenge Your First Impressions How successful has this thinking been for you in the past?

What facts do you have that support or challenge your first impressions?

What strengths do you have that you may have overlooked?

What advice would you give someone else in a comparable situation?

Negative thinking Is there any negative thinking behind your first impressions?
Background When did you first have initial thoughts like this?

How deep do the roots go? Think back along your timeline.

Do you know anyone else who thinks like this?

How successful has this thinking been for them?

Alternative thinking How could you manage the situation differently?

Drop negative assumptions and think of possibilities or facts that may have gone unnoticed.

Positive Belief and Affirmation Write down a positive affirmation that reflects a positive approach.

Choose something easy to remember that you can use as a reminder.

Action Plan What can you do if this situation arises again?

List the strengths you bring to the situation?

What can you do if you fall back on old habits?

Improvement Do you feel better or more optimistic?

If you change your thinking and the way you look at things, you will change your life.

More Information

Responding in the comments section of this post with your questions is a secure method of contacting us. Your comments will never be published unless they are of a non-personal nature. Alternatively, you can email Steve Costello at

or Leo Faerberg at

or contact us via direct messaging on Facebook .

Coaching and Tools That Help

Relating to these there are plenty of tools that can help with your Personal Growth and Development whether you feel challenged or just seek to advance the way you respond to your world and expand your success. Please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response. Alternatively, you can send an email. Please understand that your contact details will never be shared outside ExGro or published on this website. Confidentiality is always assured.

More Information

If you would like to know more about ExGro Coaching Services and Events, please click over to the Education For Life menu item.

Comments and Questions

Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.


I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy

Peace & Light

Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience coaching in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, and friend, Leo Faerberg.

Leo is also a qualified psychologist with additional training in Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology. He has over 20-years experience.

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