Home » Blogs » Leveraging Adversity » Seven Things You Will Learn When You Take The Hard Road

Seven Things You Will Learn When You Take The Hard Road

shutterstock_117769045We are primed to look for the easiest way possible — it’s human nature. And there is something to be said for maximizing efficiency, removing obstacles and shortening the proverbial path we take in life. But sometimes, life gives us no choice and we are dealt a hard road. While we may decry the fairness, timing, or reason for it, it is here. Not surprising to those who have treaded this path, however, is just how much we can learn from adversity. Here is what you can learn:

1. You Can Make It Through More Than You Think

If you ask most people what they are really capable of, they probably have no idea. The only way to really know what you can do, is to be tested. And surprisingly, when it comes to making it through tough times, most people underestimate their abilities. How many times have you heard someone say, “I could never make it through something like that.” Translation, I would never choose to go through something life that. Of course not. But life doesn’t give us those kind of choices. Instead, we can only chose what we will do when hardship comes our way. And without an “exit option,” we find a way. Why? because we have no other choice.

2. You Will Learn What Really Matters

When dealing with difficult circumstances, at some point, we will all second guess ourselves. And when we do, we will have to find reasons to go on. Why, after all, are we going on? Why don’t we just quit? These are questions we all have to face. And when we do, we find out what the real meaning for us is, and what is worth suffering for.

3. You Will Find Out Who Your Friends Are

There are people who will stand by you, no matter what, and then there are people who will stand by you, with some conditions attached: when it is easy, when you are in the spotlight, when it benefits them. You get the picture. But in all of the circumstances where those conditions apply, we don’t really need friends. It is when the going gets tough that we realize one of the most fundamental tenets of life: we all need people. So you might as well figure out now who is going to be there with you on that hard road, and who is going to call a cab.

4. You Will Learn What You Believe In

At some point we are probably all going to have to look to something larger than ourselves to make it through. And like our friends, some beliefs will stand the test of strife, and some won’t. Facing challenge has a unique way of revealing just the convictions that will pull us through.

5. You Will Expand Your Limits

Many people limit themselves simply because they cannot imagine going through something that seems out of reach. Yet according to Jesper Kenn Olsen, who ran around the world twice, and authored the book, Runner’s Guide To The Planet, “The body is much more capable than the mind is. It’s the fact that the mind can’t imagine doing things that we don’t think we can. But your body adapts — if you give it time — to anything. It’s your mind that takes a while to catch up.” This is precisely the reason Olsen did run around the world, to find out where his “perceived” limits were. As it turns out, it was his mental limits, not the physical ones, that had made the accomplishment seem impossible. And for most people, things are impossible, that is until you do them — or until you can imagine yourself doing them.

6. You Will See Opportunities You Never Thought Possible

Most of us are going along our path because it is what we know. Whatever we do is a compilation of habits learned, beliefs about what is important, what matters, and what we “should’ be doing. Yet, what do we do when the road we were on is blocked? It is not until what we were doing is no longer possible that we have to answer this question. And when we do, we will start looking to things we had never considered before, because we never had to. And this is a gift. It is a gift because most people never really stop to ask themselves, What do I really want to do?

7. You Will Meet Yourself

Challenges in life have a way of revealing many truths. Truths about who to trust, who not to, what really matters, what to believe in, and not surprisingly, who we really are. We find out just what we do when we are tested — with our nerves stretched to the limits — and what we are made of. We come to know our doubts, fears, excuses, and limits. And when we know ourselves, we can also learn to trust ourselves. Because we can’t trust that life will go our way — it’s not going to sometimes. Yet we can trust in our ability to know how to handle ourselves when it happens.

References: 1. Olsen, J. (2014). The Runner’s Guide to The Planet. Available on Itunes.

Man standing in a road image available from Shutterstock.

Seven Things You Will Learn When You Take The Hard Road

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2014). Seven Things You Will Learn When You Take The Hard Road. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Oct 2014
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.