Those Who Haven’t Faced Adversity Don’t Know Their Own Strength

· August 16, 2017

Adversity is underestimated in Western society. We have a narrow concept of it. Situations or people we find unfavorable or contrary to our desires are the only aspects of adversity we focus on. What we usually don’t take into consideration is that behind every adverse situation there is an opportunity for growth. This way, it is within this struggle where a profound and rich process of self-learning takes place.

It is very pleasant to swim in calm waters, but there is very little to learn from the low tide. Our life is like that tide, as long as it is low and calm we won’t have to use our strength. A person who doesn’t know adversity doesn’t know himself, doesn’t know his own boundaries. Adversity is like a prism, once we have taken a look inside of if, we won’t be able to see things the same way.

For several reasons, we can live for years without knowing our true skills and characteristics. It might be because we have avoided challenges. Or maybe because we just haven’t found them yet. We need to keep in mind that each adverse situation gives us a little piece of self-knowledge. In most cases, adversity gives us a nice surprise, as well. It helps us discover how strong we are when we run out of options.

“The blows of adversity are bitter, but never sterile.”
-Ernest Renan-

birds flying out of a bandaid

Resilience: courage in the face of adversity

Resilience is the capacity we have as individuals or as a group to confront adversity and keep making plans for the future. In some occasions, difficult circumstances allow us to develop latent resources which were unknown to us until that moment.


Positive psychology recognizes resilience as a common response, part of the adjustment process against adversity. There are many circumstances which will favor the development or not of resilience in each individual. These circumstances include their level of education, family relationships and social context. Concretely, resilience is attached to self-esteem. Thus, it is important to work with children so they can develop this capacity in a healthy way.

Kids with a healthy self-esteem will transform into grownups with high levels of resilience. In this way, they will be prepared to overcome all of the obstacles they find throughout life. It is important to guide kids in an efficient way through the first stage of their life, so they can develop constructive ways of dealing with difficulties.

flower growing out of cement

“The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong in the broken places.”
-Ernest Hemingway-

Success is not the end, nor does a failure mean you have failed

We usually think our willpower comes out of nowhere, as an inexhaustible spring. But a curious study shows us that we are more indulgent at night if we spent the whole day exercising our self-control. This means willpower is a quality we must learn to measure out.

Sometimes, it is difficult for us to find the strength we need to carry on. Our state of mind, external circumstances out of our control and our own thoughts can play tricks on us. To find our inner strength, we must focus on what is truly important to us. We must also ignore lost causes, since we can’t do anything about them. This is the attitude which will allow us to focus our energy and fight for our goals.

In a culture as competitive as ours, many people are impulsed by external motivation. These people want to show off their accomplishments as if they were golden medals hung around their necks. All of this with the objective of obtaining other people’s approval or admiration. These behaviors are very dangerous since the strength to carry on is placed in the hands of others; when it should be based on us.

lady looking back towards the sea


“Only a man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength it wields.”
-Woodrow Wilson-