Growing from Adversity

What happens to people when terrible tragedies and disasters hit them head on?  The answer is that it depends on who they are and whether they have the mind-tools and emuna-tools to grow from the challenge or G-d forbid be destroyed by it.  What I mean by tragedies and disasters are severely adverse events and situations that suddenly appear in peoples’ lives. Events like: the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a serious illness, legal problems and the like. Nobody wants these types of events – they are emotionally painful and sad – yet when they come, and sooner or later they will come into all our lives, we must be prepared to deal with them in the way that Hashem wants us to.

The first thing that you need to know is that your struggle is valid. The pain you are experiencing is expectable and normal. This is a real challenge and test that is sent to you by Hashem and you are going to need a strategy to deal with it.  You have to be proactive and not just wait around for the problem to fix itself. Accept that you may not be able to resolve the problem overnight, but you don’t have to be paralyzed by it. Know that by working on your faith, using the strengths of character Hashem gave you and the resources He put into your life, you can keep a positive view of the future and become much stronger and more confident than the average person, as a result of your traumatic situation.

Here are some tips for dealing with adversity, based on ways that people with resilience and emuna do it: First, see the event as a challenge from Hashem that you can certainly deal with. Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to stick to your solid spiritual goals and use all your resources to combat the adversity. Explain to yourself that the adversity will not be permanent; it is of a temporary nature. Refuse to blame yourself or anyone else for the adverse event. Say, “I know this is from Hashem and I know it’s for my best. Hashem will give me the strength I need to deal with this.” Then don’t waste any time thinking about what you cannot change, but rather look for whatever control you do have. Ask yourself, “what can I do today to make this better or to move closer to my goals?” Ask Hashem to help you keep things in perspective and stay aware of your thoughts and feelings.

Emuna-resilient people also don’t try to deal with very heavy challenges by themselves. They reach out and make connections with close relatives, neighbors, friends or professionals who can help them. People who do this cope much better than those who stoically try to deal with it alone. Also, ask yourself how you managed to get through the severe tests of your past and learn from the experiences that helped you then. This will help you recognize the emuna and strength that you already have.

Take breaks, speak to Hashem and speak to yourself. When you speak to yourself, break the problem down: Don’t say “there’s nothing I can do about this problem…” Say instead, “there is nothing I can do about this aspect of the problem, but I can still do something about another aspect of it.”

Remember that it’s a huge waste of time to compare how you cope with an adverse situation and how you think someone else copes with the same situation. Even if it appears that the situations are the same – they aren’t. We are all on our own journey through life, with Hashem leading, and what works for one person may not work for someone else, so never compare yourself to anybody else