How to Find Peace in Times of Adversity

Sad woman

“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

Do you know of anyone who has never mourned the loss of a loved one, or suffered from illness or turmoil in their lives?

We all go through painful experiences. It is part of this physical existence. We know we have to face pain sooner or later, yet we remain ill equipped to deal with it.

We don’t learn in schools how to cope with loss or deal with a serious illness. So, we grow—like so many generations before us—thinking if we just ignore this aspect of living,  it won’t happen to us.

This of course is not true. Our fear or denial of death and loss won’t stop such things from happening. We all know that death is the eventuality of each birth. But our survival instincts make us fight it tooth and nail to the end.

Negative feelings to adversity are the typical response. How can we deal with it peacefully?

There is no one solution that fits all. We all have different emotional responses. Some cry, some get depressed, others escape, and others face it with grace and acceptance.

I don’t think it is humanly possible to not feel the pain of death, illness, loss (of status, a job/career or material possessions) and betrayal and breakups.

But I think it is within us to experience such challenging situations from a place of strength and acceptance instead of fear and resistance.

Recognize your strength.

Remember that you are brave for being here—every human being is. We exist. We put ourselves out here to experience both joy and pain. Loss is inevitable. Yet we keep going.

It is easy to say accept the situation in theory or after the dust has settled but when you are in the middle of it, what can you do?

1. From a place of stillness, allow the shock and feelings to go through you.

There is no point in resisting what you feel. Take it out of your system. By that I mean become aware of your thoughts and feelings; pay close attention to how your body is reacting. Let the wave of fear, sadness or anger go through you.

Express your thoughts if you need to in a constructive way. Bawling your eyes out and wailing won’t help anyone. But crying from a place of stillness can be a relief. Write about your thoughts and feelings. The more you express them, the sooner such thoughts and emotions will move on allowing you to deal with the situation.

2. Become aware of mind games—questioning, blame and regret.

At the beginning you might feel the need to know why something happened. Or worse, you start blaming yourself or someone else for what happened.

Once the thoughts come up, meet them with understanding. Think of the arguments first. Why this terrible thing happened to such a wonderful person. The simple answer of course is why not.

Someone has to go through this experience. It is part of our evolution at this point. So this person must be a strong soul to accept such a challenge in their lives. The same applies to the loved ones who will share this painful journey with the sick or dying person.

Dealing with blame can be harder. It is an argument that no one wins. Then there is blame’s ugly cousin: regret—the what if and what could be.

When you are in the early stages of dealing with a situation, it is easy to slip into wishing things were different and what you or someone else could’ve done differently.

Feel the negativity and let it be. Don’t suppress it. Just feel it. Sit with it and let it run its course. With time you will be able to find a way to overcome … and one day to forgive, if needed.

3. Trust and deal with your situation.

The worst you can do is avoid the situation and escape. You will feel guilty and resent yourself. We all have more strength than we can imagine. The good thing about life is that it doesn’t give us more than we can handle, even if we can’t see it.

In times of adversity you will have all the strength and resolve to deal with the situation. Trust in your ability and that of the people surrounding you.

Things are usually worse in our head than in reality. When you face the music, you allow the experience to manifest.

4. Accept what is.

After you go through your emotions and as you deal with the situation, you will find yourself more in tune with life. You just accept things as they are and roll with it.

From this acceptance comes peace. At this point you realize it is futile to argue with what is. You are better off accepting the situation. Have faith that you and your loved ones will do the best they can. The rest is beyond your control—it will take care of itself. It always does.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If not, it will kill you and that is okay. We all have an exit. We don’t know when or where. But we know we have one. Remembering this can help us accept life’s most challenging situations.

5. Find closure and let go.

If you survive the experience, you will have endured and that gives you more strength and courage to deal with other situations.

The important thing at this time is to find closure and move on. If you stay stuck rehashing what happened or dwelling on how things could be different, you will create a new painful experience that will strip your strength and resolve and leave you an emotional mess.

It is not easy and we may never know the ultimate cosmic reason for what happens and to whom. But we all know that no one is immune to it. The thing that we need to remember the most is: we all have within us the eternal life that creates, endures and evolves.

“Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.”  ~Thomas Carlyle