I am presently preparing to speak on the topic of Overcoming Adversity at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen NJ of November 21. It is a fascinating topic, one that I have visited in prior writings and lectures under different but related topics–Healing Through Sadness & Happiness, the Buddhist notion of Suffering, Kabbalistic concepts such as a broken universe and healing.
One aspect of this talk will address the practical issue of how to face our day to day difficulties. Adversity implies a negative situation–whether somehow self-induced or totally random and arriving from outside ourselves.
The topic of this posting is one approach–we need to recall our past successes in overcoming and surviving difficult and painful experiences.
There is a tendency NOT to tap into our past successes while we are in the midst of such an event–a rebuke at work, news our retirement account has disintegrated, hearing that our grandchild has a learning disability or that someone close to us has cancer.
We quickly become engulfed in a cloud of emotion which brings physical distress with it as well. It is not a coincidence that the word 'disease' is truly 'dis-ease'.
Many of us, particularly the 'older' reader can recall how we faced equally painful situations in the past—and survived them. Perhaps we actually 'grew' from this process, but that is a fascinating but different notion which I will explore in a future posting.
The concept of 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' does resonate with many of us. It is an ironic and painful notion to ponder. But the truth is–at least you survived the experience.
That memory must be retained and recalled as soon as the flood of dark emotion sweeps through. Don't dwell in that despair, anxiety or gloom–but don't flee from it too soon. Experience it, feel it [you probably will have no choice]. Then simultaneously plan your response & recall how you survived past painful situations.
Regard those times as part of your personal path in life, your individual or group challenge–and regard the process of overcoming as a form of success. You are still here, after all. And that means that you possess more strength and survival skills than you realize.