7. Adversity versus Resilience

What is Adversity?


Adversity is typically defined as an unfortunate event or circumstance. It is a hardship, obstacle, or challenge that significantly impacts our life. It is difficulties or misfortune.


Examples of adversity include self-doubt, physical injuries, or illness. Adversity can also be defined as mischance, misfortune, and mishap. And when faced with a crisis, it can become difficult for many people to imagine that what they are experiencing will eventually lead to personal growth of some kind. However, this is where resilience comes in. Adversity in health, family, work, or any area of your life could be right around the corner.


Adversity and stress are a part of life, but how we respond is our responsibility. We can succumb to the stress and wallow in it (apathy), or we can rise to the occasion to explore ways to bounce back (growth).


Whether it’s a bad day or a truly terrible situation, life will try to knock us down.


Through adversity, we acquire skills, abilities, and attributes that enable us to not just survive, but ultimately, thrive.


Fortunately, many coping strategies have been found to be effective at minimizing the effects of hardship. One simple but powerful way to enhance resilience is to find silver linings within painful or arduous situations.


Hard times are an inevitable part of life. This statement is particularly evident today as we face significant global challenges.


Everyone’s challenges are unique, and finding silver linings is not easy; but when we can focus on the positive, we tend to fare much better.


Sometimes you may have to dig deep and change your perspective to see the positive. At times, challenges are so deep and mind numbing that the silver lining is only noted later, but it is there.

The 6 Types of Adversity

1. Physical Adversity

Physical disability is an example of physical adversity. For example, a professional athlete may face physical adversity after experiencing a career-ending injury, which drastically changes their life’s trajectory. Furthermore, being blind, deaf, obese, or in chronic pain and having to deal with the difficulties of those ailments may force someone to have to fight to achieve a normal life.

2. Mental Adversity

A mental problem, or mental illness, may limit someone. Seeking help from a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can greatly improve one’s life when dealing with mental adversity. Enhancing one’s well-being and achieving a normal life are the goals of seeking treatment.

3. Emotional Adversity

Emotional maturity allows us to have a productive state of mind and face difficulties in life. Self-worth is vital to develop, as rage and sadness can lead to problems in dealing with daily life. We need to control our emotions, so they do not control us.

4. Social Adversity

Social interaction is crucial to human life. Being limited in social skills can severely limit a person from getting a job, making friends, or maintaining a family unit. Developing these skills can significantly improve one’s life.

5. Spiritual Adversity

Faith in a higher power does not have to be a God, but faith is an advantage in life. It helps when one has hope, compassion, and love for themselves and others to cope with daily life.

6. Financial Adversity

This may be the most apparent adversity that our society and the rest of the world faces. Not being able to afford necessities creates a barrier to leading a happy life and can lead to jealousy and anger.

No matter the type of adversity you are experiencing, our Fort Behavioral Health team provides comprehensive therapeutic programs to give you the mental strength you may need. Also, the enhanced self-confidence that you may feel after your therapy sessions will provide the foundation for future success. Also, you will gain skills and strategies that will help you continue to conquer adversity when it appears in your life.


Healthy coping style for adverse situations in life?

What is the meaning of coping?

Coping is the use of one or various types of mechanisms that are intended to reduce psychological stress (Gurvich et al., 2021).

Healthy coping mechanisms may effectively mitigate the nature and impact of these psychological responses (Gurvich et al., 2021).

1. Healthy emotion-focused coping

  • Cognitive reframing is the positive emotional and/or cognitive appraisal of a stressful situation (Wittlinger et al., 2022). This technique is especially valuable in developing resilience and adapting to adversities.
  • Meditation and breathing techniques calm the mind, relax the body, and can change the amygdala (Yuliana, 2021). Often, taking a step back to take a breath and calm your physiological process help make a good decision.
  • Journaling can be a therapeutic and reflective practice for individuals facing a challenge. Nückles et al. (2020) assert that practitioners should use writing as a way to develop ideas and examine one’s current understanding of the situation as opposed to direct problem-solving.
  • Positive thinking and forgiveness (Kubala, 2022) are effective strategies that directly align with positive psychology. Forgiveness is an adaptive behavior in which an individual reframes a transgression, thus promoting healthy behaviors and contributing to psychological wellbeing (de la Fuente-Anuncibay et al., 2021).
  • Laughter is often said to be the best medicine. It can be an outlet for negative emotions and stimulate the physiological system that decreases levels of stress hormones (Mbiriri, 2020). Further, humor eases tensions and improves moods.

2. Healthy problem-focused coping

  • Determining an alternative solution is an effective method of handling dilemmas. This process involves the collection of complete information, planning, and coming up with effective decisions to deal with the challenge (Zaman & Ali, 2019). This method may also be made possible by journaling.

3. Healthy meaning-focused coping

  • Finding the “good” in a bad situation, similar to positive thinking, can combat negative mental health impacts (Lai et al., 2020). This mindset would be especially beneficial when paired with mindfulness techniques. This method is particularly effective for those with strong religious beliefs.

4. Healthy social coping

  • Eliciting the help of a counselor or therapist may be a helpful strategy to get an unbiased perspective. With advances in technology, counseling and therapy are even more readily available through instant messaging and video chats, which provide for anonymity and convenience (Li & Leung, 2020).
  • Talking with a trusted friend or colleague may be enough to ease your stress and build stronger connections. Confiding in someone not only allows you to express your emotions, which increases wellbeing, but it increases interpersonal intimacy (Slepian & Moulton-Tetlock, 2019).

5. Healthy avoidance-focused coping

  • Controlled distraction, or self-distraction, is an activity that is used to take your mind off a situation (Adasi et al., 2020). These activities may include watching TV, listening to music, shopping, or just picturing yourself in a place you feel comfortable. For example, you may try picturing yourself in your happy place while nervously waiting to deliver a presentation. Of course, it is recommended that any distraction be in moderation.
  • Exercise – not only will exercise provide you with an opportunity to walk away from a problem and refocus, but the health benefits of exercise are countless. There is a link between regular physical activity, lower psychological distress, and overall positive neurobiological response (Popov, Sokić, & Stupar, 2021).
    As with other coping strategies, it is important that exercise does not become excessive or compulsive. It is possible to have too much of a good thing – even exercise!

What is resilience?

Over time, stress can have a damaging impact on our psychological, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Psychological resilience can protect individuals from its effects and boost their ability to regain a sense of control in their lives (Southwick & Charney, 2018).


While there are many definitions of resilience, psychologists typically agree that it is a multi-fold concept, made up of both the capacity to handle difficult times and our ability to respond flexibly. Some researchers go further, identifying the following three factors as essential to resilience (Boniwell & Tunariu, 2019):

  • Recovery
    Returning to normality or the pre-stressor degree of functioning
  • Resistance
    Limited or no signs of disturbance following the stressor
  • Reconfiguration
    Returning to a different homeostasis and finding new stability according to the change in circumstances

Unlike recovery or resistance, reconfiguration is an essential part of the process of transformation the individual experiences when a return to their original path is difficult or unthinkable (Boniwell & Tunariu, 2019).


"Resilience is our ability to bounce back from life’s challenges and unforeseen difficulties, providing mental protection from emotional and mental disorders."

Michael Rutter (1985)


"Resilience is an inference based on evidence that some individuals have a better outcome than others who have experienced a comparable level of adversity."

Michael Rutter (2012)


Resilience research recognizes each of the following as both facilitators and indicators of resilience in individuals (Boniwell & Tunariu, 2019; Neenan, 2018):


  1. Reframing
    Looking at a problem or situation from a different, more helpful perspective can help the individual cope.
  2. Using the power of positive emotions
    Such feelings broaden our thinking and enable us to come up with alternative strategies for solving problems more creatively. They can also improve our sense of belonging, helping us bond with supportive individuals and groups and boosting our sense of accomplishment and ideas of purposeful living.
  3. Participating in physical activities
    Being more active can help manage and reduce the impact of stress along with improving confidence and self-esteem.
  4. Ongoing active engagement in trusted social networks
    Social support from trusted friends, colleagues, and family members can leave us feeling less isolated and help us adopt a better perspective regarding what is happening.
  5. Identifying and using signature strengths
    Engaging our strengths can leave us feeling more authentic, increasing our sense of meaning and control when we take on new challenges or overcome adversity.
  6. Optimism regarding the future
    Looking toward the future with optimism can help us recognize that setbacks are usually temporary and surmountable, helping us feel more hopeful and positive about what lies ahead.



36 Ways to Find A Silver Lining During Challenging Times (positivepsychology.com)


Six Types of Adversity | Types of Adversity in Addiction (fortbehavioral.com)

What is Resilience and Why is It Important to Bounce Back? (positivepsychology.com)

Healthy Coping: 24 Mechanisms & Skills For Positive Coping (positivepsychology.com)