Written by Dr. Keith Ablow
There is a mental “trick” to making it through adversity — and it really isn’t a “trick” at all because it is so closely aligned with the truth. Call it a “truth trick.” It isn’t meant to be a cure-all, and it doesn’t lessen the reality of how painful it is digging out from a storm or looking at a flooded home, let alone grieving the loss of a loved one.
What it does is put you back in control while facing pain.
Here’s the “truth trick:” Keep reminding yourself that every trauma will end up defining you by the strength, determination and empathy you bring to it. You are being tested and you have the capacity to out-perform all expectations.
In other words—while no one would invite suffering upon him- or herself—every challenging chapter in your life story brings with it the opportunity to deploy internal resources of courage, creativity and compassion. And putting those resources into play inevitably hones you in the direction of what is good and decent and worthy in human beings.
This “truth trick” can help you redefine yourself as a survivor, rather than a victim. It helps you lean into the wind, rather than be set back on your heels.
Remind yourself that the courage, creativity and compassion you demonstrate will be contagious to others. Your friends and relatives, including your children, will witness you at your best—confronting adversity with grace. And, make no mistake about it, they can be changed by the power of your example. Your son or daughter, facing a trauma later in life, will have a secret reserve of self-esteem and self-determination because you gave it to him or her, quite literally, as a gift.
I have used this truth trick myself, as a way of calling out the most resilient part of myself. It works. Consciously being aware that you are being tested, not just tortured, can be life-changing.
There’s one other "truth-trick" I use all the time. I don’t know exactly when I came up with it, but I started using it again and again after my first child was born.