Responding to Adversity

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BY SIMONE SMITH 

Hello Toronto Caribbean Newspaper readers! Thank you to all of you who continue to support us here at TCN. Every week, I am meeting more of you in the community who have happily accepted us into your home. As a writer for the Toronto Caribbean Newspaper, I appreciate the support that you give to all of us. This is why I take my time to select topics that I know will continue to help all of us here in Toronto and in our surrounding regions. Again I ask; if there is anything that you might have questions about when dealing with your life, please contact us. I want to always ensure that I am addressing all of the pertinent issues that are currently present within the community. This week, I am going to be looking at how adversity affects us, and how we have learned to deal with this adversity. Are you ready to dig into this week? Let’s go!

The Webster Dictionary defines adversity as difficulties or misfortunes. Other words that are used to define adversity are: trouble, hardship, difficulty, distress, disaster and suffering. As you can see, these words are very heavily weighted words; negative words usually are. They carry this weight because of the energy that each of these words holds. It could be why the feelings that come with these words are just as heavily weighted. There are three common ways that we respond to adversity: catastrophizing, trivializing and assessing the situations rationally (Wong, 2013). Catastrophizing is the most commonly used strategy. It involves taking the situation at hand and creating unnecessary anxieties and suffering. How many times have you done this? Let’ say that your spouse is late coming home one night. All of a sudden, the worst case scenarios start popping up in your head, they have been in a car accident, or maybe worse, he, or she is with another person. These thoughts go on and on until you are in a state of frenzy. This is when it can become dangerous. Catastrophizing can cause health problems if someone stays in that state for a period of time and it can cause a breakdown in relationships.

Trivializing is ignoring the real danger and believing delusions (Wong, 2013). This is also another very dangerous strategy. This is mostly dangerous when it comes to your health and safety. A common and dangerous habit in our society right now is texting and driving. One may trivialize how dangerous this is until they discover that one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour here in Ontario (Ministry of Transportation, 2012). What is worse is that our young people are the ones who are leading this statistic. This is not something that should be taken lightly, yet it continues to be, as the statistics regarding distracted driving continues to rise.

Our last common response to adversity is assessing the situation rationally. Out of all the responses, this is the hardest one to do, yet the best one for you. It is interesting how that works out. In life, the easiest tasks are usually the ones that do not take effort, yet they are not as effective as the harder tasks. When you assess a situation rationally, you take a realistic look at what exactly is happening in the situation (Wong, 2013). When one takes time to do this, it allows for accurate processing of information and limits catastrophizing and trivialization. It allows for appropriate emotional responses to what is going on and can open the door to communication between two individuals. Having the ability to verbalize what is occurring in your life is the best way to release the negative energy that is attached to the situation.

Now it is your turn. Out of the three responses provided, which of them do you use to react to your situations? Check in with yourself Toronto.

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