Adversity in life is inevitable. We rarely have any control over what life throws at us. Most often our mindset towards adversity is the key to overcoming it. I always say “it’s not the load, it’s how you carry it”. Having a prolonged negative outlook can be destructive. It can feed feelings of hopelessness, of not seeing a way out, or a fixation on the negative. Eventually, you may be at risk for depression, anxiety, chronic sadness and unhealthy coping strategies.
I am definitely no stranger to adversity! Injuries, not being able to run for a year, being told I may never run again. The consistent challenges of Autism, chronic illness in the family including my own past health issues. Two bouts with depression, childhood trauma and the list goes on…I have had many opportunities to develop a solid mindset when it comes to adversity!
One thing that has helped me to develop a positive approach is exercise. But not in the ways that most of you may think! I do not use exercise as an avoidance tactic, nor as a distraction. For me, exercise has little to do with the release of endorphins. I don’t get “a high” on every run. And remember, “the high” does wear off! Nor do I use exercise to “run away” from my problems.
The Opposite Is True
Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I see it as though I am running towards or through any adversity I am dealing with! I am empowered by my training goals. No matter how big or small. There is something really amazing when your body is able to do something that it couldn’t two weeks ago! Looking back at where/how I began, and relishing the everyday journey gives me the greatest satisfaction. When I look back and see everything I have overcome, I say “If I overcame that, I can overcome anything”. Or “If I achieved that, imagine what else I can do?”
I have also developed patience through my training goals. Too often, people faced with any type of adversity expect the issue to be resolved instantly. Things take time. Often A LOT OF TIME.
Let Me Count the Ways
There are a few ways in which exercise can help develop a stronger, more positive mindset when faced with adversity. Having exercise/health goals gives you something else to focus on. This decreases the risk of fixation on the negative. Too many people that come to me for guidance are stuck in a vicious cycle, so fixated on all that is “wrong” in their lives that they cannot see the way out.
Small achievable training goals can be very powerful! A goal can be as simple as “I will do 8 pushups per set this week instead 5″. Or “I will run for 6 more minutes even if I have to take short walk breaks”. Too many people set themselves up for failure even before they start. Which just “fuels” their already negative outlook. Like registering for a marathon when you have just started running (yes, people do this). Or expecting to drastically change their eating habits from one day to the next (which rarely works). BABY STEPS…!
When you begin to succeed with small attainable goals, your mindset slowly begins to change. Your self-confidence increases. You begin to think and feel more positive and empowered. Your mind and heart become more “open” to guidance and suggestions. You begin to think and feel as though you can overcome the tough stuff that life throws at you. You begin to realize that things aren’t that bad and you will be ok in time.
If you have the opportunity to hire a coach or a trainer, this can help too. They are often the most positive people around! Their exuberant energy can be contagious if you are open enough to it. It is very important to surround yourself with those that lift you UP rather than bring you DOWN. Being around those that constantly complain, have a negative comment for everything and mainly talk “trash” about themselves and others is not the way to go. In my case, my coach has been a mentor for me for me for the past four years. Find people that will “pull the magic out of you”, not drain you and keep you down. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is SO important to find the right support. Especially when things are not going well.
And lastly, by having exercise/health goals, you create an opportunity to connect with others that have similar goals! We all could use more real life personal connections! You can share your frustrations, triumphs, goals, achievements. You can be inspired and help to motivate others. And who knows? You may even gain a good friend!
Don’t stay stuck. Find the right support, the right place for you to train and start changing your outlook one exercise goal at a time. This will help with any adversity that you are facing. It can even sustain you if you are supporting someone else going through a hard time. You will be better equipped to help others. Like I said, “It’ not the load, it’s how you carry it”.
Thanks for reading!