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How to Ride the Wave of Adversity

An idea from Kim Duke.

The following is an excerpt taken from edition one of our print magazine. To see the full edition, check it out here and use our code ‘SUBSCRIBER10’ for 10% off.

When adversity crashes its way into your life, it doesn’t give you the luxury, courtesy, or kindness of a warning. One minute you’re thinking about what to cook for Sunday dinner or where you’d like to holiday this year. And then the next minute you’re hit by the tsunami of hardship which sweeps away in an instant everything that is normal.

The car crash, the diagnosis, the job loss, the words “I want a divorce” all cause you to gasp in shock and to immediately flounder and struggle. Life has forced you onto a dangerous journey and there aren’t any guarantees you will arrive safely. There’s really only one thing you can do. That is, to ride the wave of adversity.

You instinctively want to flee from that wave as fast as you can, long before it has the chance to sweep you off your feet. But when adversity strikes like this, you can’t run, as there’s no escape immediately in sight. Denial will quickly drown you in despair, and as much as you’d love to be magically rescued by someone, at this moment, you are the only one who can save you. Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution would tell you that adaptation is the only way you can evolve through this mess. Those who adapt to their ever-changing environment tend to survive and come out stronger because of it. So, what can you do? Well, you can choose to evolve — immediately.

Rather than struggle against the tide, the wave, or the dark current that threatens you — instead, make a contrarian and awkward choice. Face this horrible thing and use its strength in your favour. Strangely, you face it by turning and pointing your feet downstream in the same direction that the water is flowing. You surrender to the force of what’s real and ride the power of the current. If you do anything less, you risk losing it all. For the time being, you release your resistance and go with the wave of adversity. Do not mistake this as being passive. Right now, this choice conserves your energy so you can catch your breath and get your bearings. You have only one job and that is to keep your head above water.

The entire time, you’ll look for opportunities to save yourself from this overwhelming situation. That is part of the skill of adaptation as well. But most often, you need to first ride this wave to calmer or shallower waters. It would help if you released your impatience, your plans, and expectations. Everything is about riding this out.

The poet Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.”

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