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  • Writer's picturePak H Chau

True strength can only be seen in the face of true adversity

Have you ever suffered a loss? Maybe a death of a loved one? Or perhaps lost a job? Or had to shut down a business?

Have you ever experienced an illness that really changed your life dramatically?

These situations just make you want to fold up right? Because in times of difficulty, the easier thing is to pull back than push forward.

Did somebody break your heart? It would be easier to just not love anymore, right? Lest your heart be broken again? Because our instincts tell us to protect ourselves from further pain.

But is that the right way to live your life?

Didn’t get the position you applied for or the promotion you were hoping for? It would be easier to give up and resign, right? But you know what, no matter where you go, you will always have competition. And there will always be somebody better than you. The more important thing to ask is – how are you making yourself better today than yesterday? That, my friend, is resilience.

The question is – how do you become more resilient in the face of adversity?

How to Overcome Adversity

Consider resilience to be a muscle and these are the ways by which you can make it stronger.

1. Know your big “Why?”

What is your big why? Why do you do the things you do? Define that and you will keep going, no matter how troubled the waters may seem. There’s no other recourse but to keep your eyes on the prize so you will be able to persist even when the journey becomes difficult. Your motivation must be compelling enough, strong enough to pull you through the damnedest of situations.

2. Transform adversity into opportunity.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Everytime you catch yourself thinking negatively, redirect your thoughts. Turn adversity into motivation. Think of a way out rather than being sucked in. The more you realize that adversity is part and parcel of life, the more that you will be able to shrug it off and carry on.

“Never look at adversity as an enemy. Look at it as an ally, because it makes you stronger, wiser, and can actually assist you in succeeding in life. We have to maneuver through adversity to reach success. There is no shortcut. This is the meaning of life. This is the human condition. Fall down seven times, rise up eight.” – Michael Nova

3. Seek support.

Most of the time, our big “Why?” stems from our relationships. Perhaps our parents, partner, or children. When faced with adversity, you must harness these relationships. Let them be your compass as you navigate through these most difficult moments of your life. Seek support from people that you care about, because you know what, even if you’re probably doubting your worth at this point, know that they also care deeply about you and wouldn’t want you to give up. Share your suffering and diffuse the pain.

4. Believe in yourself.

Believe that there’s nothing you can’t handle. Have you watched the film The Pursuit of Happyness? It’s a film about how Chris Gardner overcame adversity, specifically, homelessness, and became a successful entrepreneur and stockbroker then eventually author and motivational speaker. One of the most pivotal scenes in the movie is when Chris, played by actor Will Smith, says to his son:

“Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” ― Pursuit of Happyness

But also, be patient with yourself.

Believe that all things will come to pass. I know that it’s very difficult to see the light especially if you find yourself in a very dark, deep tunnel. But try to stay positive. There’s always a rainbow at the end of a storm. Just as sure as winter follows spring and summer follows fall.

So if you are down and feeling hopeless right now – rise up.

There’s so much to learn from people who have overcome adversity.

Take the case of Oprah Winfrey. As a child, she survived poverty and molestation. Her mother was a teenager when she was born - and raised Oprah as a single parent. Oprah herself was also a teenager when she became pregnant. To make matters worse, her son died at birth and she never had any more babies after that. How much more unfortunate can one get, right? But now, after having reaped so much fame and fortune in the media industry, she is devoting most of her time to philanthropy.

Sheryl Sandberg is another case in overcoming adversity. Sheryl had a thriving career (as Facebook COO) and family when her husband Dave Goldberg (SurveyMonkey CEO) suddenly died while they were in vacation in Mexico. Sheryl carried on and even became a bestselling author amidst her sorrow.

There are just so many stories out there of inspiring people who overcame adversity.

But you know who the most inspiring person is?


So forge on and continue to write your story.

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