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How to Face Adversity – Art of Moving Forward

Photo by Anna Gay
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Have you ever faced the kind of adversity that crushed you to your soul and left you feeling paralyzed and numb?  Have you ever felt so lost that it seemed as if there was no way out of the darkness?

I thought that I have faced adversity and overcome it.  In my life I have battled illness, financial loss and relationship trouble and yet I endured to be strong, healthy, financially stable and loved.  It wasn’t until several months ago that my biggest challenge was about to stare me straight in the eyes and make me buckle at the knees.

Half way through November of last year I lost the most influential person in my life—my mother.  She was not only my Mom, but my best friend, my business partner and my soul mate.

I had the kind of connection with my mother that I honestly can not imagine having with another person.  We had a soul connection that ran extremely deep and she was the root of my being.

Her death was sudden and shocking and left me feeling raw and very lost.  I wondered with all the work I had done on myself up to this point, was I truly ready to move forward on my own?  Was I strong enough to pick up the scattered pieces of my spirit and find peace within myself?

So began my journey of dealing with loss, adversity and life changing circumstances.  After the initial shock began to wear off in the first few months and reality sunk in, I woke up each morning with one single thought in mind… Please give me the strength to move forward with my life.

Moving Forward From Adversity

In order to move forward from any kind of challenge I believe we must make the decision to want to be here on this Earth, living this life.  I had personally made that decision a long time ago and knew that I wasn’t going to quit now.

I think we all have opportunities to quit and give up when adversity strikes and at that point you do one of two things:

  1. Succumb to the hard knocks of life either because of fear, anger or worse a dislike of yourself. OR
  2. You make a conscious decision to not give up, to move forward, to honour yourself, and (most of all) to live.

Once you have made that conscious decision, it does not necessarily imply that you will experience smooth sailing from this point forward.  However, it will usually mean that you will do whatever it takes to make the most out of your life, no matter what obstacles come your way.

3 Ways to Deal with Adversity

The thing about life changing events is that they tend to leave you feeling naked and (more than a little) fearful.  If you try to squash that fear on your own you may be left feeling very alone and vulnerable.

In my experience, the best way to deal with the fear of adversity is to openly talk about it with others.  Although by nature I tend to be a fairly private person, I will admit that there are times when keeping things to just yourself are simply detrimental to your health and your mental state.

In a case such as a huge loss or a major life upheaval, it is very important to ask and accept the help of those who love you.  In this circumstance, I knew that if I had allowed myself to be buried away, I may never see the light of day again.

For this reason I began doing these three things:

1.  Connect with Family

I quickly formed closer relationships with the remainder of my family.  My family is small, and consists of two brothers and my father—none of whom live close to me.

My older brother was the most emotionally available. We spent hours on skype daily just talking and checking in with each other.

With my other brother and my dad, I had made sure to email more often and be open about what I was experiencing.  This also allowed them to be more comfortable with opening up candidly with me.

2.  Stay Close with Friends

On days when I felt like seeing no one and doing nothing, I forced myself to call a good friend and talked—even if it was about nothing.

Just having that social connection is vital to keep from losing your mind.  If a friend offers to take you out… GO.  On several occasions I went out to dinner with friends when I didn’t feel like going, but found myself feeling much better—better than I had felt in months.

I’ve learned that it is extremely important to stay close with friends and accept any help they may offer. It will help you move forward at a faster rate.

3.  Write in a Journal

I have always loved to write but never been much into journaling.  That all changed the day my mom died.  I have written in a journal every single day since her passing and it has become my biggest life saver.

I used to speak to my mom daily.  After she passed away, my journal became my avenue for expressing my thoughts, feelings and daily life.

I realize that not everyone likes to journal, but if you can force yourself to start, you may find yourself getting addicted to it like I did.

Moving Into the Future

The point is to not isolate yourself.  Find ways to express your thoughts and feelings.  I have found that sharing your experiences is often helpful in deciding what to do next and moving forward with your life.

It is also important to give yourself the space and time you need to absorb the adversity presented to you.  It is going to take some time to work your way through the shock, fear, sadness and whatever other emotions you may be experiencing.

At a certain point it will become clear that it is time to either move forward or get stuck in a negative cycle.  Hopefully you will see the light around the corner and make the choice to move forward, even if you can’t figure out how to get there yet.

Changing Circumstances

In order move forward you must do one very important thing: make a change.  As painful as adversity can be, it also can be a catalyst for forcing you to change something within your life.

For me it was time to gain my independence and stand on my own without the support of my mother.

Even though, I appear to be an independent woman from the outside. I am very much aware of how strong my connection was to her and my inability to let her go and live my own life.  Although this is not the way I would have chosen, it is clear that it is time for me to move forward on my own.

The below steps were essential in helping me move forward:

  • Consider what change seems to be staring you in the face.  Why is that change being presented to you and how do you feel about it?
  • Even if you feared it, decide on what kind of change would make you feel happy and fulfilled.
  • With the above change in mind, write down a clear goal. Map out a plan of action to make that goal a reality.  What steps do you need to take each day in order to move forward, clear past the adversity and change your life for the better?
  • Be sure to take at least one step each day to move towards your new goal.

Honour the Process

Change is not easy and overcoming adversity is a process and a journey.  I believe it is important to honour that process and accept its ups and downs.

When you feel as though you have been stripped down to your most vulnerable self, there is no one quick-fix to make you feel better.  Like it or not, you will be forced to go along for the ride. Accepting this process is part of the journey.

If I can leave you with one positive thought it would be that even when life changes and you must deal with great pain there is always light around the corner, you just have to take the steps to find it.

Take the time you need to find that light. When you wake up each morning, tell yourself that “Today, I will move forward one little step at a time.

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About the author

Allison Mac is a continuous student of life who tries her very best to live with conscious intention. She is a freelance writer who has a passion for teaching and writing about how the mind and body are interconnected. She blogs regularly at Binaural Beats Online and reviews brainwave audios for meditation and stress relief such as binaural beats and isochronic tones.

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4 thoughts on How to Face Adversity – Art of Moving Forward

  1. Allison,

    I can only imagine the pain you must have felt in losing your dear Mother…I appreciate your transparency in describing your feelings and grieving/healing process.

    Thank you for the wise words – tomorrow, when I wake up, I’m going to say to myself just what you’ve suggested…and then I’m going to do it. I’m going to move forward, one step at a time..Even if it means stumbling in the dark a bit.


  2. You know, this mindset is one of the most important but most difficult to learn. Especially during a time of loss.

    Too many people feel that by continuing to live and trying to be happy that they’re not respecting the loss of their loved one. You can mourn and still live. You can be happy and still miss somebody.

    You don’t have to succumb to misery to show respect for the people you love.

    It takes a truly powerful person to properly handle the loss of a loved one, and you’re clearly doing a fantastic job.

  3. Christine

    I lost my husband of 35 years 9 months ago. It has definitely been a life changing experience. My whole life was wrapped around him. My sense of self was lost in my life story with him and it wasn’t until he died that I realized who I really was. I have been on a spiritual journey since, finding out who my true being is. As you explained you are lost and the future seems to have an empty place in your heart. But it isn’t until we realize that Life does go on and that we need to find our strength to make the change. I am a different person as we all are when we are faced with such losses. But each day I wake up with knowing that all that we shared I can go forward with gratitude and blessing for what he gave me in life. Now it’s my life, a new chapter, I have to live it.

  4. M

    I want to thank you for all of your thoughts. I used a search engine to look for something that might be insightful re losing a mother. I went through this earlier this year – after only two months prior losing my father. So, here we are today is Canadian Thanksgiving (yes October = the month of Canadian Thanksgiving). It is a beautiful day outside, and I took a walk with my dog, and then came home and broke down in tears as I thought of how my mother (and father) always made it “home” wherever we were. That means, I am trying to find a new “normal” in that I have now lost both parents since March of 2012, and have very limited family.

    I am trying to force myself out to do “Something/anything” productive today. Yesterday I made a point of that early in the day and then I had some other things to do later in the day. It was much better than laying in bed depressed as I have a few times.

    I am going to make some realistic goals – some would put them as agressive, and I am going to push ahead. I try to think of my parents (find myself thinking a lot of mom) everyday, and often, and I do just that.

    I appreciate your words as I am going to push ahead as I feel that is what they would want. I try to connect through God with them and let him guide me. Times have been rough the past year and half and probably tougher in a lot of ways through the last 6 months. But I have to look for the bright sun through the clouds in the dark days, and I am trying to make sure each day I achieve something positive, and do something positive to push ahead.

    Thanks for reading.


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