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Why I Welcome Adversity and You Should Too

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I want to be resilient. I want to laugh in the face of stress. I want to take on life’s challenges bravely, and be made stronger for them.


But I also know that resilient people are that way because they have faced adversity.


What we know from the pioneering work in post-traumatic growth is that facing life’s challenges – however devastating they may be – is what makes us stronger (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). People who report post-traumatic growth also consistently report feeling more confident in the face of future challenges, as well as more able to adapt when those challenges come.


Interestingly, many of these people did not report feeling strong before facing adversity. But what happens when we face even our deepest challenges is that we also call upon strengths we didn’t realize we had. Many of the people Tedeschi and Calhoun studied recounted, “not knowing I could get through something like that.”


It also appears that the larger the challenge, the larger the gain (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Life events that fundamentally challenge our beliefs and values, also cause us to step back and reconsider what really matters, re-prioritize our values, and lead a life that is more central to what we really want.


And it’s not the adversity that is quickly solved that leads to the biggest gains in resilience either (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Challenges that last cause us to persist in the struggle longer, which leads to greater opportunity to develop and build resilience.


Facing adversity is not easy, and certainly, conditions like PTSD and acute stress disorder – both of which result from an overwhelmed emotional system – are very real and very serious.


But avoiding adversity is not the answer either. There is something to be learned in the struggle for all us of. Maybe we will realize strengths that we never knew we had. Perhaps we will uncover opportunities we might’ve missed, and maybe we will realign priorities in a way that better reflects what we really want in life.


And all of this starts with welcoming adversity.


Claire Dorotik-Nana is the author of LEVERAGE: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards. For more information on Claire or her work, visit

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Why I Welcome Adversity and You Should Too

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

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2015). Why I Welcome Adversity and You Should Too. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Jul 2015
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