How to Live Life With Adversity
“Early on, I decided to choose cancer rather than let it choose me. I chose to live with it as opposed to dying from it.” – Randall Broad, It’s and Extraordinary Life
Randy Broad tells the story of how he learned to live with cancer and find balance in all aspects of his life. Through his adversity, he has learned to live every day as if it were his last. Do what is most important in the moment.
If you have faced adversities, as nearly every one of us has, you probably asked, “Why me?” and wished it hadn’t happened to you. However, we actually need and should embrace adversity because:
- Adversity can make you either better or bitter – you have the choice.
- Everyone faces adversity. Adversity is inevitable; misery is optional.
- Some adversity is a result of our own mistakes and bad choices – an opportunity to learn.
Sometimes you suffer hurt and pain because of other people’s choices; at other times it just happens because of the laws of the universe. More importantly, no matter why it happens, you have the power to choose how you handle adversity.
Adversity in my life…
I have faced my own personal adversity. Years ago, doctors diagnosed me with transitional cell cancer.
On September 10, 2001, I had surgery to remove my right kidney. The surgery was scheduled for late afternoon. Because of a fire in the operating room, I did not have the surgery until late that evening. The recovery time for major surgery is several hours so I did not wake up from the anesthesia until the next morning.
When I awoke, the patient in the bed next to mine was watching the television. The first thing I became aware of was the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. My first thought was that I must have been hallucinating from the anesthesia. Once I was awake enough to understand what was really going on, I actually felt guilty that people needed to take care of me when others were in much worse condition than I was.
These two events – my cancer and the terrorist attack – caused me to realize that we have no guarantee of what the future will bring; nevertheless, the choices we make matter. I have become more conscious of two important values – health and freedom. Along with the cancer, we also discovered that I have type 2 diabetes. I choose to be as healthy as possible, so I have needed to be more conscious of what I eat and the need to exercise regularly. I realized that I could not take my health for granted, and chose to look after it more conscientiously. I also learned from the 9/11 experience that we cannot take our freedom for granted. I make a more conscious effort to thank those who protect our freedom and safety – military personnel, firefighters and police.
Even though I did not know at the time of my surgery that my gift was embracing change, I realized that I had a choice to make in how I responded to situations outside of my control. I could choose to be grateful and happy for what I had, or I could choose to be bitter and miserable.
The terrorist attack caused a change not just in my personal life; it caused a change in our country. Reactions to this tragedy varied widely. Many people came together and rallied around those who had suffered losses, while others became fearful and discouraged. Some chose to work for positive change, while others looked for ways to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. Your previous choices and prior experience greatly influence your response to tragedy.
Sometimes adversity can awaken the need to change.
Answer the following questions honestly, write them down in a journal, your answers will be very helpful and enlightening.
- What adversity have you faced and how have you handled it?
- What would you like to change in your life?
- What behaviors do you persist in doing that keep you from making that change?
- What basic needs do those self-defeating behaviors fill?
- What are the triggers that generate these self-defeating behaviors?
- What positive behaviors are you willing to do, to replace the self-defeating behaviors that you identified?
Find an accountability partner. Leverage the power of peer pressure. This can be win-win. Find someone who is just as invested in change as you are and work together to support each other. Think of some names of people you can count on to help you.
Talk to one or more of the people on your list. Tell them what you are doing. Share your story and progress. Ask if they would like to take this journey with you and embrace the change from the inside out. Write your experiences in your journal.
This is an excerpt from my book “Embracing Change From the Inside Out”
If you’re ready to make life changes from the inside out contact me, I am a personal change coach and will help you understand how to make those changes.
You can also contact me to speak at your next event, I will adjust my topic to the needs of your audience.