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Last Updated on June 11, 2020

5 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Adversity

5 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Adversity

When something bad happens in your life, how do you react? Do you approach the process of overcoming adversity as a learning opportunity, or do you let it throw you off your game?

Whether it’s an accident, the loss of a loved one, or mental illness, adversity strikes all of us. However, the response to it differs from person to person. Some people are able to thrive when times get tough, while others struggle to keep it all together.

Let’s face it…there is nothing enjoyable about adversity. It creeps up on you at the worst time and tries to mess up your day. For some, it negatively affects every area of their lives.

Adversity can feel like an uphill battle, especially when you’re not getting a break from it. However, successful people have found a way to navigate their way around roadblocks that would stop others in their tracks.[1]

As a result, successful people are able to bounce back faster when adversity strikes. There is a purpose behind every adverse event that you experience in life. However, it’s up to you to look for the silver lining.

Often, if you choose to fight against adversity, it only hits you harder. This is why you need to surrender to what is and learn how to embrace the mess of life.

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Challenges can be used to your advantage. Let’s talk about 5 powerful tips for overcoming adversity.

1. Practice Self-Compassion

We all experience difficult times at some point in our lives. That’s a normal part of living. What we all don’t do is have empathy for ourselves when we are in distress.

Do you ever feel like it’s so easy to practice compassion for others but difficult to do so for yourself? This is fairly naturally as we tend to be hard on ourselves.

If you want to overcome adversity faster, the best place to start is by being more self-compassionate. By doing so, you will improve your emotional wellbeing and give yourself the confidence to rise up and keep moving forward.

Try creating a daily mindfulness practice, like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. This will help you navigate stressful times with a clearer mind. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you need to take a break, do it.

Honor yourself, knowing that you have everything that you need inside of you to weather any storm.

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2. Become the Master of Your Emotions

The way that you respond to a challenge determines your ability to overcome that challenge. Where people get into trouble is that they allow external circumstances to dictate their moods.

They react to things, instead of taking a proactive approach. If you don’t master your emotions, your emotions will master you.

The best way to become the master of your emotions is to start to experience your emotions on a physical level.

Notice what happens when you get triggered by something or someone and mentally note what emotions are coming up. Then, get curious about the message that the emotions are offering you.[2]

Lastly, do the work to reframe negative emotions and situations. Just because you experience negative emotions doesn’t mean that you have to react in ways that are harmful to you or others. Mindfulness and naming your emotions is a good way to give your feelings less power.

3. Make Humor Your Ally

Finding humor in the face of adversity can be extremely healing for the mind, body, and soul. It’s not about discrediting your pain. Rather, it’s about pulling upon positive emotions when you need them most.

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Studies show that in the face of adversity, going through life with a positive attitude helps you become more flexible in your thinking and resolution of problems.[3]

I know that humor and laughter have been a key aspect of my healing process. It doesn’t take the pain away completely, but it’s a great coping mechanism. Anything that lightens your mood and inspires hope during the midst of chaos is ideal.

4. Stay Optimistic

When bad things happen, it’s easy to be negative and play the ‘why me’ game. However, this mindset often gets us nowhere.

Conversely, people who remain optimistic, even in the toughest of times, naturally bounce back faster. Optimism is a powerful tool in overcoming adversity.

Research shows that optimists develop more positive ways of explaining disappointing events, and they are often able to reframe them.[4]

You may be surprised by how much calmer you feel in the face of adversity when you choose to find strength and joy during the darkest of times.

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5. Believe in Yourself

None of the previous pieces of advice on this list will matter if you don’t have an unwavering belief in yourself and the process. Self-confidence in your ability to overcome adversity is the key to bouncing back from anything.

The key is to learn how to recognize when your self-talk is working against you and quickly reframe it. Instead of saying to yourself “I can’t”, replace it with “I will.” Trust yourself and know that there is nothing that you can’t handle.

Final Thoughts

The mindset that you adopt towards challenges will determine your level of resilience when overcoming adversity. People who are able to overcome challenges with grace possess a growth mindset. They choose the mindset of a champion.

They don’t believe that their intelligence is fixed. Instead, they embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, and learn from feedback.[5]

Adversity of any kind can be very difficult to overcome. Nobody wants to experience hardships in life. However, if you never experienced pain, you would never understand peace.

For this reason, overcoming adversity is critical to your personal growth and development. You always have a choice of how you will react to low points in life. You can either give up or view adversity as an opportunity for growth.

The next time that you encounter adversity, remember that these are merely opportunities for you to grow and improve. Fostering a growth mindset will empower you to find hope in the direst of circumstances. It will give you the faith to know that there is nothing that you can’t handle.

More Tips on Overcoming Adversity

Featured photo credit: Lukas Rychvalsky via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

What Motivates You to Succeed in Life and Keep Moving Forward? The Effects of Stress on Your Body And Mind (You Never Knew) How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide) what is grit What Is Grit and How to Develop It for a Successful Life How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It)

Motivation is one of the main reasons we do things — take an action, go to work (and sometimes overwork ourselves), create goals, exercise our willpower. There are two main, universally agreed upon types of motivation — intrinsic motivation (also known as internal motivation) and extrinsic motivation (external motivation).

The intrinsic kind is, by inference, when you do something because it’s internally fulfilling, interesting or enjoyable — without an expectation of a reward or recognition from others. Extrinsic motivation is driven by exactly the opposite — externalities, such as the promise of more money, a good grade, positive feedback, or a promotion.

And of course, we all know about the big debate about money. It’s surely an external driver, but is it possible that it can sometimes make us enjoy what we do more? A meta-analysis that reviewed 120 years of research found a weak link between job satisfaction and money[1].

And what’s more — there is some evidence to suggest that more money can actually have an adverse effect on your intrinsic motivation.

Regardless of its type, motivation is still important to get you moving, to improve, excel, and put that extra effort when you feel like you don’t have a single drop of energy left to keep going.

So, let’s see some of the best things you can do to keep the fire going, even when you’d rather just indulge in pleasant idleness.

Why Intrinsic Motivation Tops Extrinsic Motivation

“To be motivated means to be moved to do something.”[2]

Generally speaking, we all need motivation.

An avalanche of research, though, shows that when it comes to finding the lasting drive to “do something,” internal incentives are much more powerful than extrinsic rewards.

Why? It’s simple.

There is a great difference when you engage in something because “I want to,” as opposed to “I must.” Just think about the most obvious example there is: work.

If you go to work every day, dragging your feet and dreading the day ahead of you, how much enjoyment will you get from your job? What about productivity and results? Quality of work?

Yep, that’s right, you definitely won’t be topping the Employee of the Month list anytime soon.

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The thing with external motivation is that it doesn’t last. It’s susceptible to something psychologists call Hedonic Adaptation[3]. It’s a fancy way of saying that external rewards are not a sustainable source of happiness and satisfaction.

When you put in 100-hour weeks in order to get promoted, and you finally are, how long does your “high” last? The walking-on-a-cloud feelings wear off quickly, research tells us, making you want more. Therefore, you are stuck on a never-ending “hedonic treadmill,” i.e. you can progressively only become motivated by bigger and shinier things, just to find out that they don’t bring you the satisfaction you hoped for, when you finally get them.

Or, as the journalist and author Oliver Burkeman wonderfully puts it[4]:

“Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.

If you want to find out more about the different types of motivation, take a look at this article: 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

If you are still unconvinced that doing things solely for kudos and brownie points is not going to keep you going forever, nor make you like what you do, here is some additional proof:

Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation[5].

One reason is that when we are internally driven to do something, we do it simply for the enjoyment of the activity. So, we keep going, day in and out, because we feel inspired, driven, happy, and satisfied with ourselves.

Another reason has to do with the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation is intertwined with things such as higher purpose, contributing to a cause, or doing things for the sake of something bigger than ourselves or our own benefit. A famous study done by the organizational psychologist Adam Grant is case in point[6].

By showing university fundraisers how the money donated by alumni can help financially struggling students to graduate from college, their productivity increased by 400% a week! The callers also showed an average increase of 142% in time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.

Internal motivation has been found to be very helpful when it comes to academia, too. Research confirms that the use of external motivators, such as praise, undermine students’ internal motivation, and, in the long-run, it results in “slower acquisition of skills and more errors in the learning process.”[7]

In contrast, when children are internally driven, they are more involved in the task at hand, enjoy it more, and intentionally seek out challenges.

Therefore, all the research seems to allude to one major revelation: intrinsic motivation is a must-have if you want to save yourself the drudgery we all sometimes feel when contemplating the things we should do or must do.

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6 Ways to Enhance Your Intrinsic Motivation

So, how does one get more of the good stuff — that is, how do you become internally motivated?

There are many things you can do to become more driven. Here are the ones that top the list.

1. Self-Efficacy

The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1982[8]. Efficacy is our own belief in whether we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves. In other words, it’s whether we think we “got what it takes” to be successful at what we do[9].

Find intrinsic motivation with self-efficacy.

    It’s not hard to see the link of self-efficacy to higher self-esteem, better performance, and, of course, enhanced motivation. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to put extra effort in what they do, to self-set more challenging goals, and be more driven to improve their skills[10].

    Therefore, the belief that we can accomplish something serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy — it motivates us to try harder to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

    You can learn more about self-efficacy in this article: What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

    2. Link Your Actions to a Greater Purpose

    Finding your “why” in life is incredibly important. This means that you need to be clear with yourself on why you do what you do and what drives you. What is intrinsically rewarding for you? 

    And no matter how mundane a task may be, it can always be linked to something bigger and better. Psychologists call this “reframing your narrative.”

    Remember the famous story of John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in 1961? As it goes, he met a janitor there and asked him what he did at NASA. The answer was:

    “I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”

    Inspirational, isn’t it?

    Re-phrasing how your actions can help others and leave a mark in the universe can be a powerful driver and a meaning-creator.

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    3. Volunteer

    Volunteering is a great way to give back to the world. It can also help boost your internal motivation by making you feel important in supporting the less fortunate, learning new skills, feeling good about yourself, or linking to some of your inner values, such as kindness and humanitarianism[11].

    When you remove any external reward expectations and do something for the pure joy and fulfilment of improving others’ lives, then you are truly intrinsically motivated.

    4. Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Like It” to Do Something

    A great piece in the Harvard Business Review points out that when we say things as “I can’t make myself go to the gym” or “I can’t get up early,” what we actually mean is that we don’t feel like it[12]. There is nothing that psychically prevents us from doing those things, apart from our laziness.

    But here’s the thing: You don’t have to “feel like it” in order to take action.

    Sometimes, it so happens that you may not want to do something in the beginning, but once you start, you get into the flow and find your intrinsic motivation.

    For instance, you don’t feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. Rather than debating in your head for hours “for and against” it, just go. Tell yourself that you will think about it later. Once in the gym, surrounded by similar souls, you suddenly won’t fee that tired or uninspired.

    Another way to overcome procrastination is to create routines and follow them. Once the habit sets in, suddenly getting up at 6 am for work or writing for an hour every day won’t be so dreadful.

    5. Self-Determination, or the CAR Model (As I Call It)

    The Self-Determination theory was created by two professors of psychology from the University of Rochester in the mid-80s—Richard Ryan and Edward Deci[13]. The theory is one of the most popular ones in the field of motivation[14]. It focuses on the different drivers behind our behavior—i.e. the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

    There are three main needs, the theory further states, that can help us meet our need for growth. These are also the things which Profs. Deci and Ryan believed to be the main ways to enhance our intrinsic motivation—Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness (CAR).

    If our jobs allow us to learn and grow, and if we have enough autonomy to do things our way and be creative, then we will be more driven to give our best, and our performance will soar. In addition, as humans are social beings, we also need to feel connected to others and respected.

    All of these sources of intrinsic motivation, separately and in combination, can become powerful instigators to keep us thriving, even when we feel uninspired and unmotivated .

    6. Tap Into a Deeper Reason

    Some interesting research done in 2016 sought answers to how high-performing employees remain driven when their company can’t or won’t engage in ways to motivate them—intrinsically or extrinsically[15].

    The study tracked workers in a Mexican factory, where they did exactly the same tasks every day, with virtually zero chances for learning new skills, developing professionally, or being promoted. Everyone was paid the same, regardless of performance. So there was no extrinsic motivation at all, other than keeping one’s job.

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    A third kind of motivation was then discovered, which scientists called “family motivation.” Workers who agreed more with statements such as “I care about supporting my family” or “It is important for me to do good for my family” were more energized and performed better, although they didn’t have any additional external or internal incentive to do so.

    The great thing about this kind of driver is that it’s independent of the company one works for or the situation. It taps into something even deeper—if you don’t want to do something for your own sake, then do it for the people you care for.

    And this is a powerful motive, as many can probably attest to this.

    Final Thoughts

    Frederick Herzberg, the American psychologist who developed what’s perhaps still today the most famous theory of motivation, in his renowned article from 1968 (which sold a modest 1.2 million reprints and it the most requested article from Harvard Business Review One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees? wrote:[16]

    “If I kick my dog, he will move. And when I want him to move again, what must I do? I must kick him again. Similarly, I can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again. But it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation. One then needs no outside stimulation. One wants to do it.”

    Herzberg further explains that the so-called “hygiene factors” (salary, job security, benefits, vacation time, work conditions) don’t lead to fulfillment, nor motivation. What does, though, are the “motivators”—challenging work, opportunities for growth, achievement, greater responsibility, recognition, the work itself.

    Herzberg realized it long ago…intrinsic motivation tips the scales when it comes to finding long-term happiness and satisfaction in everything we do, and to improving our overall well-being.

    In the end, the next time when you need to give yourself a bit of a kick to get something done, remember to link it to a goal bigger than yourself, and preferably one that has non-material benefit.

    And no, don’t say that you tried but it’s just impossible to find internal motivation. Remember the janitor at NASA?

    Because once you find your internal generator, you will be truly unstoppable.

    More Tips to Boost Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Juan Ramos via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research
    [2] Contemporary Educational Psychology: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
    [3] Scientific American: The Science of Lasting Happiness
    [4] The Guardian: Is the secret of productivity really just doing what you enjoy?
    [5] European Journal of Business and Management: Impact of Employee Motivation on Employee Performance
    [6] Adam Grant : Impact and the Art of Motivation Maintenance: The Effects of Contact With Beneficiaries on Persistence Behavior
    [7] Grand Valley State University: The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement
    [8] Encyclopedia Britannica: Albert Bandura
    [9] Pinterest: Self-Efficacy Theory
    [10] Educational Psychologist: Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning
    [11] University of Minnesota: The Motivations to Volunteer: Theoretical and Practical Considerations
    [12] Harvard Business Review: How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To
    [13] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions
    [14] Richard Ryan and Edward Deci: Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being
    [15] Nick Tasler: How some people stay motivated and energized at work—even when they don’t love their jobs
    [16] Harvard Business Review: One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?

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