How to overcome and grow from adversity

Adversity, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune. Something such as a death in your family, a car accident or being abandoned by a parent or parents are all different forms of adversity, and unfortunately it is a part of life that happens to every single one of us, and we must learn to overcome these events, or else we will live a life of pain and suffering…

I have overcame quite a lot of adversity in my 26 years so far here on earth, and I would like to share with you what I learned during each struggle I faced in my life. I find stories are the best way to directly relate to people, so that is why I use my own stories in life as a tool to help others learn and grow.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” 
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


When I was 2 years old my dad left. This wasn’t really a big deal at 2 years old, I don’t remember him at all, but it did leave a mark on me that I wouldn’t realize was there until I was much older.

I had severe abandonment and trust issues with friends and family thinking they would eventually get sick and tired of me and leave. Relationships proved to be a big struggle for me because I would always be worried the guy would just disappear, which ended up prompting me to withdraw before they could get the chance, and end it on my own terms, even when things were going fine.

I realized though, that as hard as you may try, you cannot control other people, and at the end of the day, they still have the free will to leave if they so choose. I learned that in order to trust others, I first needed to trust myself, and not to rely on anyone else to make me happy, I needed to be happy first on my own.

To overcame these abandonment issues, and I went back to see things from my dad’s perspective, and through doing that I was able to forgive him for leaving me when I was only 2 years old. Having the ability to see things from the other person’s perspective and realizing that whatever they decide to do, even if it hurts me, I understand their actions, is quite a good ability to possess. It can change your life experience to be able to have more grace and acceptance with everyone you meet, knowing that they have their own problems to deal with, and I need to see it from their point of view.

When I was 7 years old, I experienced my first real death which was when I had to witness my grandma die right in front of my eyes. She was my very best friend, and she taught me a lot of useful life skills, specifically, she taught me how to cook. We did everything together, as she was my babysitter from a very young age.

Going through the pain of her death was like no feeling I had ever experienced before. It felt like my heart had been shattered into a million pieces, and it quite literally felt like I had a broken heart. I learned from this experience that life is very short, and people come and go in your life all the time. We need to appreciate the ones we have while we have them, or else we will live in regret wishing we had spent more time with them.

I understood death and life from a very young age and even seeing my grandma die helped me see things from a new angle. It was like I was no longer me anymore, but I was this experiencer watching the situation from outside myself unfold, and I was trying to gain as much insight and understanding as I could from the experience. This voice inside me told me exactly what was happening, and helped me to deal with it in the moment, it basically made me realize and understand that yes this was extremely hard right now, but one day this would all make sense, and I would be okay again one day, even though in that moment I didn’t feel like I would ever be happy again.

I understood for the first time when I witness my grandma die, that I was fully engaged in the present moment, and nothing else mattered. This event happened 20+ years ago now, and I remember quite vividly everything that happened that day because I was so present. I wasn’t lost in my usual day dreams, I was right there dealing with the situation as best I could.

Growing up, my mom was a single parent and after my grandma died, my mom and I became very close. However, we struggled alot, especially in the finance department. When I was 5 years old we were homeless, so we stayed with family and friends for a couple weeks at a time. My mom lived paycheck to paycheck, and struggled to pay the bills on time. In my teenage years, there were times we got our heat shut off due to not paying the bill on time. I went to bed for a week straight in the month of Janurary being cold, and covering myself with an assortment of blankets, a toque and mittens, in order to stay warm. Instead of feeling angry or bitter towards my mom for not paying the bills, instead I thought, this is a great learning experience, and I know I will grow a lot from this experience. It was a very beneficial way of looking at things, which I realize now helped me tremendously in overcoming all of my life struggles.

Then if all this wasn’t already enough, I had the worst thing of all happen… My mom passed away from heart disease when I was 20 years old.

Now, this is something that can be completely destroying to a person. Especially when you lose your mom at such a young age, and she was your very best friend growing up, and she knew you better than anyone else.

It is completely devastating, and heartbreaking.

And it slowly knocked me down, because at first, I tried to be strong, I knew this was coming, it wasn’t a huge shock to me, after all, she certainly wasn’t the healthiest person ever, and I would often warn her during my teenage years that if she didn’t start taking better care of herself and specifically quit smoking cigarettes, she wouldn’t get to see my wedding.

I told her these things, in a hope to inspire her to change, but unfortunately, it didn’t work, and at the age of 20, I was sitting at the funeral home planning my own mothers funeral.

It was a rough time for me, but her actual death didnt quite hit me until the day of her funeral and they were lowering her casket into the ground, and I thought “my mother is in there, she is dead, I am an orphan now, this is too much for me to handle” and I instantly became overwhelmed by grief, and broke down crying in middle of the burial in front of all my friends and family.

From there I started to spiral downwards, and after I recieved my inheritance, I decided to quit my job because I wanted to use the money to travel the world. Little did I realize at the time, that my state of being was in no place to go out and travel. So instead, I ended up just spending my time sitting around at home, no longer feeling needed by society because I didn’t have a job anymore, and so I started to become more and more depressed.

At the time, I didnt realize how depressed I was, and I thought it was just normal, so I continued down that path for a pretty long time. I got to a point where my sleep schedule was completely out of whack, and I would go to sleep at 7 am and sleep until about 5 pm. It was during winter too, so I think I went about 2 weeks without seeing the sun.

The biggest outing of my day would be to go to the grocery store and spend about $20 a day on food that I would go home and indulge in because the food was, in fact, comforting to me, like it had been my whole life. Some days I would go to Tim Hortons (a donut/ coffee shop) buy a large Iced cappuccino, and then go to the Wendys that was connected and buy a combo meal, and then I would go home and eat.

I would look in the mirror, and see this person that I HATED. I was overweight by about 40 pounds, I was extremely unhappy, unmotivated, and I had no vision for the future. Well, I saw myself as some fat, depressed 40-year-old lady who had a bunch of cats and I would sit around at home eating all day long wondering why my life turned out the way it did.

This time period of my life went on for a pretty long time, two years to be exact until one night I had a profound realiziation, which I actually look back on as being one of the most life changing nights of my life.

Basically, what happened, I was contemplating suicide one winter night because I hated my life so much, and not only that, but I hated myself. I didnt see a bright looking future, and I had nothing to look forward to because the belief I had come up with was, “everything I love is taken away from me, thus I cannot and should not love anything again.” So I figured the easiest thing to do, would just be to end it all.

My life hadn’t turned out at all like I had envisioned it as a child. My life actually sucked, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had thought about killing myself on multiple occasions, but this time I was actually planning out exactly how I would do it. I decided I would just overdose on some type of medicine and go to sleep and never wake up from it.

It was on this night, that I first heard God’s voice again after I had turned my back on him in a fit of anger shortly after my mom had passed away.

I heard him say “you could indeed kill yourself and have your moms life be all for nothing, or you can rise up from this and become the person you were meant to become” 

And I thought, “well who was I meant to become?” 

And in a flash, I was given this vision of myself in the future, and this image of me, was quite remarkable to say the least. I couldnt believe that I could become her, but I knew right then that with enough hard work I could indeed achieve it.

So that was the night, I decided to quite making excuses for myself, and I decided to not let my mothers death bring me down anymore, as easy as it would have been to just keep using that excuse as to why  I didnt do anything with my life, I decided to become better by it, and that is exactly what I did.

Flash forward 4 years, and I am on this incredible path to becoming that greatest version of myself I saw that dark night. Each and every day I grow and develop myself, and I fall more and more in love with me.  I realize that if I can come this far in a few short years without knowing at all what I was doing, who knows how far I can go in the next following years knowing now exactly what I need to do, and how I need to do it.

By overcoming all this adversity and hardship in my life, I realize how strong it has truly made me, and I know that nothing can knock me down forever. I will always overcome whatever it is life wants to throw at me, which makes me pretty unstoppable to becoming my greatest version.

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When you decide to overcome an adversity, it’s like you set all your other minor problems aside, and you begin working though whatever the major problem is youre dealing with. You realize that if you just work hard on this issue now, one day you will in fact be okay again. Nothing can or will knock you down forever, it really is all about how determined you are to get back up from it.

Nothing can or will knock you down forever, it really is all about how determined you are to get back up from it.

Some people choose to stay knocked down in grief and despair for a very long time, whereas others won’t ever get back up, and will stay down in their pit of grief forever. But some people, myself included, see adversity and hardship as a great tool for self-discovery and development. I have made it a challenge now, to see how quickly I can spring back from these forms of adversity, that are meant to knock people down.

When you look at things like adversity as a positive thing to grow and learn from, you dont understand how extraordinarily powerful having that perspective is in life. I am so grateful I grew up in the situation I did because I did face a ton of issues as a child that
I needed to overcome, and through doing so, I have now became an incredible person that knows I can do anything I want to in life because nothing can knock me down for very long.

Whatever adversity you have dealt with in the past, or are dealing with right now, know that the perspective you have when bad things happen to you means a whole lot more than you think… You can see the death of a family member as a tragedy, or as a blessing in disguise, and that alone will make all the difference in how quickly you will  be able to overcome such an event.

Know that nothing in life ever stays the same, and at some point or another, everyone will experience some form of adversity. It’s how well you handle the problem you are facing that determines a lot about who you are, and what you will accomplish in life.

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4 thoughts on “How to overcome and grow from adversity

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