When Adversity Strikes, Will You Get Bitter or Better?

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” Khalil Gibran

There are basically two perspective people have on life. They either take the perspective of an “owner” or a “victim.” The owner is accountable, confident, and resilient. The victim is helpless, powerless, and cynical. There are probably people you know who come to mind that fit both descriptions.

Sadly, much our world is geared toward victims. Many people live as if they are at the mercy of the events and circumstances they encounter in day to day life. From the nightly news, to political propaganda, to co-workers and neighbors, we hear messages that life is a struggle and to prepare for the next problem in a “dog eat dog” world.

The good news is you can think for yourself. You don’t have to be a victim. This is even better news because there is nobody that can fix our problems except us, no matter what messages the world presents.

What happens when we get bitter?

Simply put, when we get bitter, we become a victim. We hit a road block or find ourselves in a toxic environment and end up getting stuck in the trap of “I can’t” excuses. When we do this we are turning over the keys to the front door of our life. We have no filters for what we let in, no matter how harmful it may be. This leaves us at the mercy of our circumstances, and stuck grovelling in our excuses and problems.

What happens when we get better?

When we decide to get better, we “own” our situation. We acknowledge the reality of whatever we are dealing with and determine what we need to learn, know, or change to make things better. We begin looking for solutions to help us create the life we desire. We take inspired action toward the life we want, and don’t let our circumstances keep us down.

Becoming a co-creator of your life

You can create the life you desire and deserve. Building the life you desire is similar to building a house. When building a home, we determine where we want to live, plan out the infrastructure, and begin digging the foundation. Construction of our life functions the same way. The only difference is that we are the one’s doing the building. There is no one else to blame if the foundation of our life starts to fracture and break.

But this is exactly how the victim model works. We put the blame on everything outside of ourselves. It keeps us stuck and chained to our blind spots. We make excuses and end up waiting and hoping things will get better, instead of taking action to fix the cracks in the foundation. Becoming accountable and taking ownership of our life allows us to co-create our destiny. By acknowledging and owning our mistakes and difficulties we can construct an inspiring life.

Tips for living as an “owner”

Accept the reality

Don’t deny there is a problem. Self-deception keeps us stuck and stagnant. Acknowledge the problem, own it, and start looking for solutions. Ask yourself, “What do I need to know to start taking action?”

Look for the lesson

Adversity is a wonderful teacher when we accept that life will take us down unexpected paths. Think about what life has taught you thus far. You know far more than you did a decade ago and are much more equipped to take on new tests when they appear. Acknowledging that life will test our patience and perseverance can help keep a positive attitude, and pass each test as it comes.

Have positive filters

When life gets tough, kindly remove the negative influence from your life and start filling your life with healthy uplifting messages. What can you include in your life that brings your focus back to the positives? You can read an inspiring book, meditate, go for a hike, or spend time with encouraging people. One way or another, filter out the negative messages that keep you stuck.

Keep a meaning mindset

Our beliefs are powerful. We can believe things happen for a reason, or that the world is random and chaotic. Meaning making can help protect us from trauma, and come away from struggles more resilient and strong. Meaning transforms problems into growth opportunities. Ask yourself, “What value is learned through this situation?”

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J. K. Rowling

You can grow stronger through struggles to become more poised and assured. Remember that you are a co-creator of your life. You have a choice in how you respond and deal with each and every situation.