6 Types Of Adversity and How To Overcome Them

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. See our disclosure for more info.

We should always be aware of the kinds of adversity we might face in our lives and understand the tools and techniques that can be used to overcome them.

Adversity comes in many different forms. Here are six types of adversity you might face and what you can do to get out the other side.

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.

Having resilience in the face of adversity means being able to bounce back, grow, and learn from the challenges presented. Even past adversity can help you persevere over current stress in your life.

A man's hand on a wheelchair representing physical adversity.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Albert Einstein

1. Physical Adversity

A physical disability is the most obvious example of physical adversity. The quarterback who breaks his spine during a football game and is suddenly stuck in a wheelchair faces many new challenges and a drastic change to how he lives his life.

There are less drastic but similarly problematic types of physical adversity. Handicaps like chronic pain, fatigue and obesity force people to fight to achieve a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Whether they’re unable to exercise how they want to, have to more carefully monitor their health or have to deal with other limitations most of us will never know, those with some type of physical adversity face barriers that are not easily overcome.

If you break your arm, you will find it more difficult to get dressed in the morning. You need to develop new skills showing resilience and flexibility to help you overcome your physical adversities.

What can people do to handle their specific situations other than seeking out magical cures? There are a lot of options for coping with physical limitations, big and small.

A priority should first be put on coming to terms with your condition. Accept that it’s a part of your life (at least for now) and that you’ll face struggles that most others won’t. Don’t obsess over how it’s not “fair.” Rather, learn to live with adversity without feeling bitter about it.

On that same note, you need to consistently take good care of yourself. You should take whatever steps you can take to manage your health, physical and otherwise. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and positive thinking are all necessary components to doing well. If you need help thinking positive thoughts, read some Positive Sayings to lift your mood.

If that still isn’t enough, look for social support groups made up of people going through similar circumstances. There are services from such organizations as the American Chronic Pain Association to help you find a community of individuals who can relate to how you’re feeling.

A woman standing by a gray lake representing mental adversity.
“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” – Mary Tyler Moore

2. Mental Adversity

Just like a physical handicap might limit you, so can a mental problem.

Being properly treated by psychiatrists and psychologists is crucial to managing your mental health, but there are steps you need to take beyond going to the doctor. If you’re dealing with mental anguish, routines are your friend. Get in a pattern of waking up, exercising and especially taking your medication at the same times of the day.

Another key aspect of handling mental health problems and improving mental strength is never giving up on the idea of getting better. Things can be rough for a while, sometimes quite a while, but there’s always something new you can try to improve your well-being.

If something stops being as effective, go back to the well to find something that will do the trick. Keep looking, and you will eventually find sanctuary.

With a mental adversity experience, you may encounter psychological distress, toxic beliefs, poor mental health, and declining cognitive function. Mental adversity includes any mental problem or mental illness that can limit a person’s abilities.

Childhood adversity or early adversity can lead you to develop psychopathology early on in life. This can lead to disruptive behavior that later manifests into an antisocial personality.

If you find yourself in a bad situation facing great adversity, misfortune, and challenging times find your sense of humor, mentally prepare yourself, and make peace with the situation.

For help releasing toxic belief systems, also see our 7 Toxic Beliefs to Release for Good and find out where to start.

The profile of a person sitting in the dark while facing emotional adversity.
“Adversity is the mother of progress.” – Mahatma Ghandi

3. Emotional Adversity

Most of us desperately need to learn how to have our feelings without letting them overcome us. Emotional maturity comes from experience and an effective state of mind. Those who don’t have that maturity face more difficulties in life.

A very common, very human problem is for people to undervalue themselves. Those individuals need to learn how to improve their self-worth.

Another emotion that can overwhelm us is rage. Schools don’t teach you how to forgive, even if they should. You have to figure that out for yourself or find guidance elsewhere.

Every emotion, no matter how fierce, can be tamed. Learn to tame yours through the resources available (this Huffington Post article is great) and by keeping a watchful eye on them in case they flare up.

Some emotional adversity challenges one might face include depression, phobias, emotional eating, stubbornness, hypersensitivity, and isolation. You may also experience panic attacks and aggression.

When you reach emotional maturity, you will have a more productive state of mind as you face difficulties in life.

To overcome emotional adversity, you need to develop your self-worth and not let your rage, sadness, or any negative emotion in a situation lead to problems that can affect your daily life. Don’t let negative emotions control you.

A man in a rope harness scaling a rock face.
“As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

4. Social Adversity

How we interact with people is paramount to our success. Life is awfully lonely without friends by your side. You can’t get a promotion at work if your boss doesn’t enjoy being around you.

That means that anyone who doesn’t have certain social skills is at a major disadvantage. People who are “awkward” (such as those that fall somewhere on the autism spectrum) face major and sometimes insurmountable hurdles to succeed in either their personal or professional lives.

Social adversity is often the result of poor parenting, violent crime, and delinquent peers. These risk factors can ultimately lead to a person developing antisocial behavior.

What can people do to handle social problems and this type of adversity experience? There are creative and surprising things you can do when you’re lonely.

Likewise, there are programs and self-help books that will help you improve your social game. Anyone can benefit from a little study and practice to improve their people skills.

A red poppy blooming in a field of wheat representing spiritual struggles.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” – Walt Disney

5. Spiritual Adversity

Faith in some kind of a higher power is generally an advantage in life. That higher power doesn’t even have to be a god, though, for many people, it is. People who believe strongly in the human spirit, the power of community or something equally important will often attain a sense of peace that many others do not.

If you don’t have that, find it. Enrich yourself by embracing something that you think matters. If you already have some kind of faith but feel it slipping, return to the core of why you put your faith into it.

A desk with a laptop and cup of espresso on it.
“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.” – Zig Ziglar

6. Financial Adversity

One of the most obvious kinds of adversity is when you don’t have the money to afford a certain lifestyle. There is no quick way to go from rags to riches, but there are steps you can take to improve your financial well-being.

Learning new skills doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can often make more from a trade school than a university.

Additionally, there are plenty of ways to learn new skills! Night school at a community college is fairly affordable. If you make a small investment and spend a few hours a week learning, you can head down a whole new career trajectory.

There are also effective ways to set a budget. We’ve recommended Mint before because of its versatility, ease of use and ability to track your spending habits. But really, any kind of budget plan can get you a long way.

It’s not easy. No one is saying it is. But, if you have the willpower and mental fortitude, you can move beyond your current means.

Overcoming Adversity

To overcome adversity, you need to build resilience. Life is the antagonist, and you need to find the right tools to overcome challenges and difficulties to continue toward success and personal growth.

This is also often referred to as the adversity quotient. This is a person’s ability to face situations, challenges, and obstacles in life. According to Paul G. Stoltz, the Adversity Quotient (AQ) originator and leading expert, someone with an adversity quotient can effectively face these obstacles and take full advantage of opportunities.

Here are some strategies for overcoming adversity:

Always Be Prepared

To overcome adversity, you need to train your mind to be more resilient. To do this, build inner strength and have more of a growth mindset. If you have limiting beliefs holding you back, determine what they are and then find a social support system. These are examples of how you can be more prepared to deal with adversity and make things easier.

Embrace Positivity

Having a positive mindset can help you overcome adversity. When you face a challenge, take a step back and reframe the situation and spin it into a more positive light. If there is any negative emotion or negative self-talk, replace it with positivity.

Practice Discipline

Discipline can help overcome adversity, especially when your life is spiraling out of control. Positive habits like a daily routine, exercise, and meditation can help with this while preparing your mind for adversity.

Stay Focused

Focus is important in life. Keep your eyes on the prize, the bigger picture. You need to have a passion and a reason for living—a purpose for your life. Stay focused on achievable and realistic goals and continue taking action to reach those goals.

Improve Skills

Think about what some of the more successful people and resilient individuals have done. Most of the time, you will find that they continuously improve their skills and talent on the quest for improvement.

Look at your skills, find your shortcomings, and work on improving them, even through more difficult times. For example, if facing financial adversity, increase your knowledge of finance and management.

Learn From Others

Overcoming adversity also means learning from others. Think of those you admire and ask them how they got to where they are. They can offer their own examples of overcoming adversity.

For more inspiration and the motivation to continue, look for inspirational quotes you can post as a daily reminder about being more proactive during difficult circumstances.

Sometimes your adversity will be too complicated for one category to contain. Physical symptoms might accompany a mental health issue. At times you have financial problems specifically because of your difficulty socializing/networking.

Even if your adversity is multi-pronged, look at the suggestions given in this article and see how they can apply to your situation. Remember that there’s a lot of crossover between the strategies to fight different struggles.

Mix and match them until you find a way to face and surpass the challenges holding you back from success and find your inner strength.

Get Going & Overcome

Sometimes your adversity will be too complicated for one category to contain. Physical symptoms might accompany a mental health issue. At times you have financial problems specifically because of your difficulty socializing/networking.

Even if your adversity is multi-pronged, look at the suggestions given in this article and see how they can apply to your situation. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of crossover between the strategies to fight different struggles. Mix and match them until you find a way to face and surpass the challenges that are holding you back from success.

Photo of author

Hannah Hutyra

Hannah is a digital marketer with a passion for personal development and growth. She holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas and has written online for over five years. Hannah enjoys sharing inspiring ideas and tips on self-help, productivity, and motivation.

5 thoughts on “6 Types Of Adversity and How To Overcome Them”

  1. When faced with adversity your whole life with no options to hold up i believe u was born for it to find resolutions for future disasters

  2. Great article! Thanks for this.
    Adversities are normal. Everyone goes through some challenges and difficulties in life. Sometimes, life can really get you down. However, you always have the choice to whether let yourself down or pick yourself up.

  3. As a life coach and motivational speaker I found your article encouraging. We can overcome adversity and obstacles in life, we just need the right people to come along side of us to help us on our journey.

    • I need to talk to you, I think I have finally found someone one whom I can share a little of my life journey to continue to my destination. Please Email me, would love to get to know you and share a little of my life
      Ms. BF. Gary, thank you.

  4. Very interesting. Will certainly have a good think about this it could be worth while to what I’ve been going through


Leave a Comment