An old Eastern proverb says:
The fox has many tricks, but the porcupine has one big trick.
In his book, The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfection, Dr. Rosenthal suggests when dealing with adversity, we are better off being more like the fox than the porcupine.
In other words, there is no one silver bullet for dealing effectively with adversity. It’s a dance you learn to take requiring agility, variety of approach, creativity and alertness.
Dr. Rosenthal (a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School) knows a lot about adversity from his own experience, years of research and his work with people going through a wide range of challenges. He shares 7 tricks for dealing successfully with adversity I want to share here.
The 7 tricks to deal successfully with adversity
- Accept that the adversity has occurred
- Proportion your response according to the nature of the adversity
- Analyze the situation
- Regulate your physical and emotional state (i.e., keep regular hours of sleeping and waking, eat regular meals, exercise, meditate)
- Reach out for help – to family, friends or even kindly strangers
- Turn your predicament into a story – to help you process it
- Reframe the adversity – think about it in a different way
A Clear Head is Your Friend
The most important tool is a clear head. Don’t panic. In most situations there is time to think; thinking is your friend, and impulsive action is your enemy.
Analyze the situation, understanding what you’re up against and what resources you have at your disposal. Of course, in emergencies you will need to act quickly, but that’s when your primitive fight-or-flight responses will click into gear and – with a bit of luck and quick thinking – will save the day.
Remember, other people have been this way before and have succeeded in overcoming these very same obstacles and, in many instances, have become stronger as a consequence. If they could do it, so you can you. Now you simply need to figure out what they did that worked and how you can implement a strategy that will work for you.
What might this mean for you and I?
Adversity is multifaceted and comes in many different shapes and sizes.
It’s wise to have several tricks up your sleeve. All 7 tricks are ones I’ve used during my own season of adversity. They have helped me keep “hoping for the best and dancing with the rest.”
Let me add some food for thought from others to fan your ability to live fox-like during your time of adversity.
All sunshine makes the desert.
Fractures well cured make us more strong.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Adversity is the mother of progress.
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials.
Obstacles are great incentives.
Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.
Henry J. Kaiser
What trick would you add to the list?
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