What I Learned from Adversity
Adversity got me a true friend, it got me into writing, it got me to be self-aware, it tested my resolve, it got me into spiritual enlightenment, it got my company started, and it opened up my eyes to stuff that I have not noticed around me before.
I saw it as a sign and it opened up my eyes.
But all that is just half the story. Where it really helped me, where all the magic happens after adversity, is the following:
A) It taught me how to overcome fear
Many people live through life filled with fear.
I fear criticism. The kind that says i’m no good.
I fear being ridiculed and embarrassed in public.
No matter how well I conducted myself, it always seems that I cannot escape it.
Fear is what the ego uses to protect itself. And pride is the poison.
I now know, what I didn’t know back then.
Adversity hit me like a brick wall. I had to face my worst fears.
It was a nightmare. I pinched myself hoping that I would wake up.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I guess the patient needed it.
But I found meaning throughout the ordeal and I got over this yearning of being perfect.
I am now immune to any kinds of criticism, ridicule or embarrassment.
Fears are nothing more than our state of mind. It can be subjected to control and direction.
This explains why physicians are less susceptible to an attack of diseases than others. Their lack of fear is their immunity.
Your fear is worth billions to mass media, insurance companies, Big Pharma, lawyers, politicians and so many others.
So don’t let fear stand in your way.
While fear keeps us in check, it paralyzes us with unrealistic manifestations and unnecessary truths.
B) It taught me how to accept Defeat
I love winning. I hate losing. Winson was the name given to me, and probably that is the reason why I always want to win no matter what I do.
But if you want to accomplish great things in life, you got to learn how to lose.
Fail enough times and you gradually get closer to success.
Defeat is for the valiant.
Very early on in life, it killed me to lose. Whether it was in academics or sports.
I learn to adapt and improve my skills very quickly. In my mind, I thought I was a talented genius. I wasn’t.
Maybe I had some talent, like most of us do. But I wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
I failed in EVERY single strategy the coach taught me. I paid him thousands of my own money to learn.
It didn’t work. From article marketing to affiliate marketing and eventually Facebook marketing. I was a failure.
I had wrapped up so much into the winning mentality that it became a huge problem when things started going south.
I was not used to failure. I threw tantrums, banged doors and slammed tables. I felt that everyone was laughing behind my back.
A few months later I manage to make $37 from an affiliate sale on Clickbank. It was a huge relief, although I wasn’t quite able to replicate it.
Nonetheless, I was able to make my first sale on the web. I got a taste of making money online.
Then it was dry again. Not a single dollar in months. Doubt started creeping into my mind telling me to accept defeat. It played over and over again inside my head.
What was I going to tell my parents and my girlfriend (Now my wife)
Finally, I started to care more about improving myself rather than quick victories. I tried doing things differently. Started to study my approach.
Took defeat as reason to launch another more intelligent attack.
Failure has no end, it is a choice.
People who have never been defeated are the ones who never really fought.
And that’s how I went from newbie to Master.
Losing still is my least favorite thing in the world. But I now understand that it is the equalizing element to winning.
I may not be as smart, talented or fast as they are, but I will always be the last one standing.
In the words of Rocky Balboa – Life is going to beat you to the ground and keep you permanently if you let it. You have to take the hits and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!
C) I learned to Stop Complaining
Research indicates that most people complain once every minute during a conversation.
Complaining is tempting because it feels good, but just as smoking does – it is actually bad for you.
I used to complain about the hot weather and the massive traffic jams. I would swear and curse whenever something doesn’t go my way.
So used to it, that it became contagious. I begin noticing people around me doing the same.
Here is why we complain;
Our brain loves the easy way out, it doesn’t like to work harder than it has to. So when you complain, the neurons in your brain starts to grow closer together.
Think of it as a bridge constructed to allow you to cross a river. So the neurons build stronger connections making the passage easier to cross.
And that is why complaining repeatedly makes it habitual, which makes you more likely to complain on the next thing that irks you.
Over a period of time, you will begin to find it easier to be negative rather than being positive.
It ends up being your default behavior.
At first, it started as a complain, I would curse. Then my eyes narrowed, turned rigid, cold and hard. You could see the reddening of my face.
I would draw a deep breath, and a burning hard stare. The boiling anger would reel me in and all I could do was stare with a vengeful anger that consumed my soul.
But then I switched mindsets. Adversity had taught me a thing or two about Stoicism. When I was bedridden, had no one to turn to – philosophy became my teacher.
If I realized I was starting to lose it, I would start to think, “Any person capable of angering me ultimately becomes my master.”
So by using divine reason gifted by the Greek school of ancient philosophy, I was able to govern my behavior within a single thought and a breath.
For somebody at my age, I spend ample time pondering about life, death and philosophy more than my peers. Without adversity, my mind would have shut down to these wisdoms of the past.
There’s a book called, “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. The Roman emperor wrote a journal of his most private thoughts on how one should live well.
I became a better person by learning how to stop making a fuss about every little thing. By learning how to understand and accept that some things are just out of my control.
By accepting that the people I deal with each day will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly because they cannot tell the good from the evil.
Recognize that and you will learn to stop complaining.
D) I Discovered the beauty of solitude
The first time I really had time alone with my thoughts was for the 3 months of hospitalization treating my 3rd degree burns in over a quarter of my body. (Read the full story here)
Then I went a way on a meditation retreat in Taiwan on top of a mountain for a month. At the peak of the mountain stood a wooden lodge. I had a special room there all to myself to recuperate.
The first night I was there, I couldn’t sleep. The sound of silence was deafening. Even with my headphones over my ears, I could still hear the penetrating sounds of nature.
The explanation was that my brain was creating noises to fill the silence because it isn’t used to it.
It took me a couple of days to adapt.
I experienced solitude and discovered a whole new world inside my mind.
Never noticed it before. I was always so entertained by company that I forgotten that my soul was always free to speak to me.
If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself. And if you don’t know yourself, you will begin to fear being alone.
But you are never alone. A vast world lies within our soul waiting to be found.
It is often so overwhelming that we often choose not to acknowledge its existence.
The void frightens us because we’re so used to the limitations set by ourselves and the people around us (your social circle).
It is only when you confront solitude that you will find its virtue.
Solitude reveals all the mysteries of life. As your inner life becomes more and more intense, you will also experience the beauty of nature like never before.
In a Nutshell
You can choose to see adversity in a more positive light.
Even if you’re hurting,
Even if you’re struggling with life,
Even if you’re emotionally distressed at the moment,
You can always decide to immediately change your story. Change the story you’re constantly telling yourself.
For me, “What impedes me, also empowers me…”
While adversity isn’t something you want to look forward to, all of us will be tested in our own unique way. You must then learn how to deal with it and make the most out of your predicament.
I no longer blame the perpetrators for inflicting harm onto me. I no longer feel the vengeful need to lash out at the government or the police for failing to bring them to justice.
Instead, i’ve chosen to focus more on life and its inner riches and my spiritual freedom.
The Scars I have are the medals branded onto my flesh proving once and for all that I have passed the test of life.