When I was 18 years old I was travelling In India and ended up in the hospital due to dehydration and continuous vomiting (nice!). The same thing happened in Namibia (doubly nice!). The fire had already been lit during my A levels, but this poured gasoline on the flames and my health spiralled downwards. For 4 years I suffered from severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/M.E.), IBS and irritable bladder syndrome.
I found myself outside of the NHS remit and so took things into my own hands. I decided that I would fully recover and not stop until I did – and I succeeded.
So I understand what it’s like to overcome adversity, along with these 4 experts I heard talk at an event held by IGO Adventures last week. Here are 5 things you can do to overcome adversity.
1. Don’t take no for an answer
Ex-professional international rugby player Shane Williams was once told that he was too short to play rugby.
But he didn’t accept this and worked extremely hard to prove them wrong.
Shane trained tirelessly with a smile on his face, adapting the game to how he wanted to play it.
Instead of getting overpowered in scrums, he trained to be quick and nimble so he could outrun his opponents.
2. It’s all about how you approach adversity: what can I do about it?
Huge and Ross take on, confront and overcome extreme challenges to support research programs and uncover new findings that will help create knowledge and accelerate developments in particular areas of human study and medical understanding.
When Hugo was young, he also broke his next, so he’s definitely no stranger to adversity.
Hugo’s number one tip was when faced with adversity: choose how you can deal with and overcome the situation to the best of your ability.
You have the power to influence your mind, outside of the environment that surrounds you.
It’s down to you to choose how you feel, act and think in these situations.
Choose to occupy the most useful state at that time, choose which path will make you happy in the long run and plough away until you’ve overcome that challenge.
And it often helps to follow your gut in these moments too.
3. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
Anne Usher, Paralympic gold medallist, was following her passion for mountain biking before a spinal injury resulted in her no longer being able to ride.
Mountain biking was Anne’s everything and having lost this, her life spiralled down until she hit rock bottom.
It was around this time that Anne asked herself: How can I join the love of sport and physiotherapy together?
The journey of answering this question led her to a chance encounter with someone putting together a kayaking team for Rio!
With just 7 weeks of training, Anne qualified onto the GB team and this led her to winning gold at Rio!
Anne says she had every excuse not to train for the GB tryouts: she was a full-time mum, got seasick, never been on a boat etc.
But instead of focusing on all of the reasons why she couldn’t do it — Anne thought yes I can and focused on why she could do it.
So when faced with adversity, think of all the reasons why you can overcome something – not why you can’t.
4. Cultivate a positive mindset
A positive mindset doesn’t just come from thinking positively.
A resilient positive mindset stems from an accumulation of powerful beliefs, thoughts and actions that you can do something, that you can overcome adversity.
And as Peak Performance coach Sandy Loder said, just like climbing Everest requires a team, no one overcomes adversity on their own.
You need to believe in yourself that you can do it to start the journey and you also need a team of supporters around you, to help you on your journey.
Keeping positive is exhausting, I know, I’ve been there, so having people around you who can boost your morale is important. It’s also important to have unconscious positive habits built into your day and routine.
Set yourself realistic and reasonable goals, celebrate small wins every day and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t quite go to plan, be flexible and just keep chipping away. If you do this, you will overcome adversity and achieve your big goal
5. Be in the most useful emotional state for that moment
You have the power to influence your thoughts, beliefs, actions and physiology.
I believe a positive mindset is important, however, sometimes, you want and need to feel more than positive. Perhaps you want to feel calm, healing, energy, powerful, ambivalent, or humorous.
When I was sick, I was positive the majority of the time, but I needed something more. I discovered that in order to fully recover from CFS/M.E. I needed to have a calm and serene energy.
It was re-wiring my brain to this default state that enabled me to bounce back stronger, faster and healthier than I ever have been.
As these experts have said, you have the power to choose how you feel at any given time and changing your thoughts and your beliefs, changes your physiology. And this can transform your life.