In preparation for an upcoming talk on Overcoming Adversity I came to the realization that the concept is essentially identical with that of Healing. Adversity disrupts the state of peace of equanimity we equate with serenity, happiness and wholeness. Overcoming adversity requires that we confront this challenge and perservere.
Once I realized this truth, much of my preparation for the lecture fell into place.
I also realized that no one truly overcomes adversity—by that I mean that we do not transcend experiences, don't float above them as on top of a wave, rather we experience them, we move through them, we are undeniably affected by them and hopefully are transformed by them. Healing involves this sense of being wounded, inextricably altered by circumstances yet surviving in a manner that allows us to acquire a deeper compassion and appreciation for life itself.
Overcoming adversity provides a form of vaccination for future difficulties. We build up our capabilities to face them, our physical, mental and spiritual immunity is strengthened and we gain confidence in our ability to do so. Fear is lessened, a powerfully damaging component of adversity.
An analogy to physical injury and healing seems appropriate. A fractured bone can heal, but it reveals its break. It may even become stronger in the process of repair. Our soft tissues heal as well, but a scar will always reveal the fact and the nature of the injury.
Emotional and spiritual traumas we experienced may seem overwhelming, even insurmountable when we look back through the lens of time. Yet somehow we were present in the moment, rose to the mission and did the best we could. Perhaps we entered some strange state of consciousness that allowed us to function at a higher level. This remembrance is important for us. It serves to remind us that we all possess a deep reservoir of hidden strength.
Healing is often a collaborative process–others are brought into the equation. We share our suffering with others, they with us. We help each other overcome adversity and healing becomes a mutually shared experience. In fact the most compassionate among us are often those who have suffered and overcome their personal trials and tribulations.
The ability to heal is an inherent property of who we are. Adversities are an inevitable characteristic of living. We should face them with courage and the awareness that we possess the capacity to heal and to be healed.