Use adversity to help grow

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Senior Master Sgt. Kimberly La'Pierre

I want to address topics that are near and dear to people’s hearts. Suicide awareness, community struggles, church sermons on life change, our families, friends and my own personal encounters come to mind. It did not take long for me to see the correlation these topics had amongst each other — overcoming adversity.

Each one of us face adversity at some point in our lives. To a lesser degree, we face it as far back as we can recall as a child or teenager. Some of those early childhood adversities may have been at the hand of a bully, the struggle to pass a class or a battle to overcome a debilitating sports injury. As adults, they range from failed relationships or careers, confrontations with others and the struggles of parenting. Because adversity is part of everyday life, each one of us must develop coping strategies and personal connections to combat negative feelings as they’re presented to us. If not, it makes matters worse and difficult to overcome.

How do we overcome adversity? The first step is viewing adversity as a journey — one that will eventually provide growth. Recognize that our circumstances are temporary and our initial emotions are normal. Then, as we go through our hardship, ensure we do not react off our emotions because they may cause us to act out of character and harm others in the process. We must take our steps with integrity and seek out help when we need it.

The first place I run to when I face adversity is my spiritual relationship with God, who guides and comforts me. Others may have a different way or place to find comfort. Go wherever that is for you, but be sure you have trust there and you are free from judgment. Additionally, take care of yourself while enduring adversity by turning to healthy activities to get your mind off the issue and help you relieve stress. For some people this place is the gym and for others it’s on a vacation. Wherever that place is, we should take enough time there to clear our minds.

The purpose of going through adversity is to learn and grow. We should not let adversity pass us by without benefiting from it in some way, otherwise the struggles and hurt we face are for nothing. We cannot allow adversity to appear in the future without becoming stronger after dealing with it.

I’ve encountered various forms of adversity throughout my life and I’ve learned to handle adverse situations. I’ve grown from each of those experiences and I’m better at responding to adversity today. Now, the initial sting a difficult situation presents, is not as painful as it may have been in the past. I’m also now able to better recognize and handle adversity and the stress it may bring. This is when growth appears.

We will make a few mistakes in life and that is OK as long as we recognize those mistakes and learn from them. It’s also important to share your experiences with others after you’ve completely healed. I strongly believe that we go through hardships, not just for ourselves, but to become a guide for others going through similar situations.